Recently, my father flew down for a long-overdue visit from Texas. My dad’s a human search engine, knowledgeable on many things. Need to build something? Dad’s probably built it before. Gardening? He’s got tricks. Something needs fixin’? I call my dad for advice. Many of my favorite tips, I learned from my father. Dad recently turned seventy-five, and I love that he still teaches me things I didn’t know before!
Daddy flew in on Labor Day. It was a beautiful, sunny day with hardly any traffic. We drove to the airport in Newark, New Jersey to pick him up. The George Washington bridge sported a huge, beautiful American flag in honor of the holiday.
With my daughter back at school, during the week we enjoyed catching up while staying “local”, or tinkering around the house. We’ve tried everything to get our sinks unclogged, but something’s always running slow or backed up. Daddy showed us how to take a plastic drain snake to clear the drains. This flat, long, plastic piece can be found at hardware stores for around $2.50. It’s “teeth” grab trapped hair and muck when sent down the drain, chemical-free! We were amazed at what my dad pulled out of the drains, and our sinks clear faster than ever.
The weather during my dad’s stay was beautiful! We took advantage of sunny days, visiting farmer’s markets and my favorite flea market.
We were going to buy some corn from a local farmer for dinner, when my dad suggested we take advantage of buying in bulk and filling up the downstairs freezer. Dad doesn’t blanch his corn before freezing on the cob. “It tastes just as fresh in the dead of winter as it does right now”, he states, when frozen so soon after being freshly picked, and not kept longer than one would keep any frozen veggie.
When we got home, we made shucking corn a family event!
To prepare it for freezing, after removing the shucks, wash the corn well, removing the strings with a soft bristle brush.
Allow the corn to dry completely. Any dampness can result in ice crystals or the corn freezing in a clump. Once dry, place six ears of corn in a freezer bag, press out excess air, and freeze. When you’re ready for summer sweet corn, simply remove what you need and prepare. We ended up with 64 ears of corn at just $0.31 an ear!
I inherited my green thumb and love of gardening from my dad. I love pickles, so I’ve been making tasty dill pickles with this season’s bounty! I make my pickles using Bragg’s Organic apple cider vinegar, water, and Kosher salt for the brine, along with fresh-picked cucumbers, pressed, fresh, organic garlic cloves (four for each jar), dill seeds, and red pepper flakes. I process the jars in a hot water bath after pouring in the brine and sealing. As you can see, my first couple of batches turned out just fine:
However, one evening’s batch of pickles looked normal, until I removed it from the hot water. It looked like this:
Much to my horror, I could see bright turquoise green masses resembling my once-white garlic floating among my spices, as green as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas! To say I was alarmed is an understatement. None of my canning friends had seen this phenomena. Taking my dad’s advice, I didn’t toss it all out immediately. After speaking to two Master Gardeners and the Ball Canning Company (I wanted to be thorough), I learned that garlic, especially when very fresh, can change to shades of green, blue, even purple when cooked. It’s caused by a chemical reaction occurring with compounds in the garlic and minerals most likely from water. (Well water can also result in a cloudy-looking brine). Thankfully, color-changing garlic is harmless and safe to eat!
We had such a nice time catching up. My dad patiently let my tween school him in all the latest music and books, and spent some quality time with all of us.
Unfortunately, our week was bittersweet when our twenty-one year-old kitty passed away one evening.
With us twenty years, we were blessed to have him so long. He had so much personality, much like a dog. I was grateful my dad was here to hug and comfort my heartbroken daughter, who’d loved that kitty her entire life. Grampas are good for that.
Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole