A Farmgirl and her Father

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!

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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.

IMG_9330-001With 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.

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The weather during my dad’s stay was beautiful! We took advantage of sunny days, visiting farmer’s markets and my favorite flea market.

Sunbeams one early morning

Sunbeams one early morning

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.

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When we got home, we made shucking corn a family event!

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The chickens enjoyed a treat.

The chickens enjoyed a treat.

To prepare it for freezing, after removing the shucks, wash the corn well, removing the strings with a soft bristle brush.

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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:

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However, one evening’s batch of pickles looked normal, until I removed it from the hot water. It looked like this:

IMG_9366Much 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.

I snapped this beautiful sunset we were treated to from my deck when we dined outside one evening.

I snapped this beautiful sunset from my deck when we dined outside one evening.

Unfortunately, our week was bittersweet when our twenty-one year-old kitty passed away one evening.

603With 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

 

 

 

Leave a comment 34 Comments

  1. Nicole,

    Dads are certainly the best. That’s a really darling picture of the two of you. You’ll cherish that someday. I really like the idea of freezing the corn without blanching it. I will try that next summer – certainly saves a lot of time. – Dori – (AKA: the new Ranch Farmgirl!)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori! Welcome, farmsister! So nice to “meet you”!

      Thank you, yes, I love that photo. I live in such a beautiful area; the drawback is having been so far away from my family, but we usually talk by phone every day.

      I’ve already pulled some corn out of the freezer to use…so easy to get just what we need. Happy Blogging! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  2. Jan Sturgill says:

    Don’t you just love the fact that your dad is such a wealth of information!! I loved your corn project and now I will have to try it…I didn’t raise any corn this year, but I have a neighbor that has delightful tender ears. My husband is a corn head, so he will especially appreciate this in the winter!
    So happy that you had a wonderful time with your dad. I still draw from the knowledge that my dad passed on to me…

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jan! I just want to add…I did a little experiment. I had a few ears I kept “fresh”, and made some of the ears that were “frozen”. No one could taste any different! That corn will be a welcome taste of summer in the months ahead! Thanks for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. diana henretty says:

    I loved your story of your faithful father!
    My husband is of the same making, everything is homemade, I am blessed.
    Yesterday we had to put down our 18 yr. old dog, so I know your missing moments well this morning.
    We took him for one last visit to the river where he ran 3 miles a day the first 14 yrs. of his life, we sat and talked while my husband dug his grave.
    After the vet’s visit, we buried him facing the river, his new home is covered with little decors of love today.
    Thank you for sharing your father’s story, it reminds me to cherish every new day with my “homemade husband”…..Hugs to you from the Ozarks, Diana

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Diana, hugs to you and your sweet husband. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. What a lucky dog to have had you all as his humans. Such love. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Sweet corn. Sweet dad. Sweet post!

  5. Nancy says:

    How sad for your family that you kitty passed. Know that he is on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge waiting for you anf ptd your daughter. Regrets

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, thank you. It is a weird thing when a pet passes, especially when they are with us as long as our sweet kitty. Their favorite “spots” seem so empty. Our dog really misses her buddy. We have found her laying in the spots Badger always was, places she never went to before. He was a good kitty, and we will never forget him. I shared the Rainbow Bridge poem with my daughter…it’s so sweet, and Heaven couldn’t be heavenly without our pets! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Betty McTiernan says:

    A very nice story. I felt the love too.

  7. Diane Loehr says:

    Hi Nicole! Grandpa looks like he had a great time! Savor every minute that you have with your Dad. Unfortunately my Dad just recently passed away (8/28/14). I got the call to come home right away, since he had been bed ridden for over a year. I was too late, but my Mom was with him and the Hospice nurse. I miss my Dad very much, but know that he is happy in heaven and looking down on us with a big smile. You had a long time with your kitty, but it is never easy to lose a family pet. I hope that your family will find comfort in knowing that you provide him with such a great home and lots of love.
    Until next time – Diane

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh, Diane, I am so sorry to heart of your loss. Hugs, warm thoughts and prayers your way, farmsister. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Sippie says:

    Wonderful post. Makes me miss my dad — and my kitty, both of whom were as special to me as yours are to you. Thanks for this, Nicole. May you enjoy many many more years, visits, and learning opportunities from your dad. Sadly I think most of us (myself included) don’t realize what we have til it’s gone… making this post all the more special.

  9. Adrienne says:

    I’m so glad you had the chance to visit with your father and your family shared his wisdom and love. You are blessed!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Adrienne, Oh after he left, we all missed him so much, including my chihuahua! Pip still looks for my dad! They became fast buddies, and we thought we might need to check Dad’s luggage for the dog before he got on the plane! 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Cute picture of Badger. He was a sweet kitty. So glad your father finally unstopped your “drains”! I will have to find a drain snake too. Love, Mother

  11. Rose says:

    Thank your dad for cleaning the hair out of the shower drain tip! I am going to get one of those gadgets from the Hardware store today. Looks like you had a good visit with your dad and learned some of his old fashioned wisdom to pass along to Audrey.
    Sorry about the passing of Badger. He was a sweet kitty and I am glad that you gave him a loving home for so long. You had a big heart years ago when I called you up and asked if you could adopt him and you said yes right away.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rose, Who knew how big an impact that kitty would be when you were our vet? Of course, how could I say no when you handed him to me at the office, and he was so beautiful and purring…he really was the prettiest kitty ever. We will be forever grateful to you.
      As for the gadget, it’s a little tool that does a great thing!
      Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. CJ Armstrong says:

    Nicole,
    Loved your post and so glad you had a grand time with your dad . . precious are those times. And, I’m sure Audrey enjoyed his visit as well.
    Thanks!
    CJ

  13. Dorothy says:

    So glad you got to enjoy your time with your Dad. These are good memories for your family to cherish. I also will try the corn in the freezer next year. Thanks for your post.

  14. Meredith says:

    Hi Nicole! I was so sorry to read of the loss of your sweet kitty. You are right that you were blessed to have her so long- what a gift! I enjoyed reading about your visit with your dad. You are fortunate to have him still too! My dad passed away two years ago next week and I sure miss him. Thanks again for your wonderful posts and photos

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Meredith, I am so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your father. No matter our age, every day is truly a blessing. Thank you for commenting. Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Sue Ingle says:

    Loved your blog! My ‘Dad’ is 73 and I cherish the moments we have together! Thanks for the wonderful tips and your kitty reminded me of our ‘Misty’…who we lost a few years ago. Blessing & hugs to you!

  16. Joan says:

    Great post, so nice that y’all had the time with your Dad! I too do the corn like that, I do however have a Food Saver machine, sucks all the air out and the bags can be put in boiling water to cook the corn, that way no water on the corn – so fresh tasting, you will love it. Sorry about kitty, I know you were a great family to him.
    God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, so much Joan! Love the idea of using a Food Saver. I don’t have one, but have thought of getting one. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Denise says:

    Gorgeous photos. An absolute treasure time with your dad. How wonderful for you and your family to have this time together, an absolute blessing hugs
    Denise
    Australia

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, Thank you so much. It was a great time. I miss my family every day, but am lucky I talk to them by phone almost daily. Thanks so much for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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