For about half an hour, I had only one child in the house! Two of them were working in a local vineyard with our good friends, who manage it, and I let the rest take sandwiches and have a picnic lunch. I stayed in the house by myself (with baby!) to keep the green bean-bottling-process going. While I was eating my lunch and reading something online, baby crawled behind the computer desk and played peek-a-boo from behind the screen.
Saturday turned out to be a very long day. It was a good one, though, although we have no plans of repeating it. Gayle got permission from a local farmer to pick some peas out of his large field which he is growing for seed (a lot of people have been picking peas there). We went over and decided to just pick for an hour and see what we would end up with. We got five bushels! Our pickers are fast. Then–we had to shell them! We all sat around on the front porch all afternoon and evening. I am able to shell peas almost as fast while I read as when I don’t, so I propped a book in my bowl and read aloud. We read an entire 150-page book about a girl in Pompeii that afternoon! The baby played on the porch around us, and 3-year-old brought drinks of water around regularly. The afternoon was a great family time–but we didn’t finish the job till late at night, which was the not-nice part. We ended up with 38 kilograms (57 quarts) of peas in the freezer, but I decided that is not worth repeating (unless they would be organic; these are not).
It’s been a long time since my oldest child at home was three years old! Right now, however, our oldest five are working for our landlord, pulling wild turnips out of a paddock he has planted in Bok Choy for seed. The turnips are blooming right now, but the Bok Choy hasn’t started bolting yet, so it’s very easy to see what to take out. He doesn’t have time to do the job himself, so he stopped by last evening and asked if we could do it. The children were glad to have a paying job, so I took them over just after lunch. That leaves me with only two here–it is quiet in this house! We worked on the bananas I got on special at the supermarket a couple of days ago–the three-year-old cut them and filled a dehydrator tray for me. He was quite excited about that, exclaiming over and over, “Dat is pun! Dis is pun!” (fun). Baby played outside for awhile, and came in with a dirty face, laughing at me as he tugged at my dress. After I tried to get a picture of him (he wouldn’t laugh for the camera), the older one wanted me to take a picture of his face “to see if it was clean” after he washed the chocolate off! And now, I got a message that the children are done for the day and I need to go get them! Just after I finished writing, as we were heading out to get the older children, three-year-old asked one of his famous questions: “Mom, when is Dad going to have a baby?” “Uh, Daddies don’t have babies.” “But you and Dad are married!” “Sorry, only Mommies have babies.” “Will you have two more babies?” “We’ll see.”
We’ve picked wild sweet cherries twice this year, already, and I thought I’d share one of our family’s favorite ways to eat them: Cherry Soup. This is a recipe that my Mom got from a Hungarian cookbook back when I was a girl. We always enjoyed it growing up, and my family loves it today. I don’t think I make it exactly like the recipe, and I happen to be holding a sleeping baby right now so I’m not going to go look it up, but here’s how I make it:
Put in pot:
1 quart pitted cherries
1 quart water or fruit juice (I concentrate plum juice and often use that)
3/4 cup sugar (not sure of this one–might want less)
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring to a boil. Whisk together:
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup flour
Add to boiling mixture, stir till boiling again and thick.
Beat 2 eggs. Stir some of the boiling mixture into the eggs to warm them, then stir them into the pot. Turn off the heat as soon as you think the eggs are cooked enough.
Stir in 2 cups cream or milk.
We enjoy this with crusty bread. Sometimes this soup will be the main course; other times I make it to go along with something else. Leftovers are great for breakfast, or dessert at lunch the next day.
Today was Christmas Day. We didn’t have anyone to spend the day with, so we decided to go to a beach we hadn’t been to before. Napenape (pronounced nappy-nap) is just south of the Hurunui River. It is a beautiful beach! It always amazes us how different each beach is from all others. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time there and relaxing this afternoon.
When I was in the garden this morning, I noticed (again) that the broccoli needed picked, so assigned a boy to cut it for me. We got a nice bowl-full of beautiful, worm-free organic broccoli! Next question–what to do with it? I can’t eat it raw, and we don’t especially like it cooked. When Gayle got home from work I asked him if he had an idea; he suggested cooking it with mushroom soup. I got online, and found this recipe. Well, I have to work around Gayle’s allergy to cow’s milk, and I don’t keep those ingredients on hand anyway, but it sounded good. So, I cooked the broccoli. While that was cooking, I put homemade goat feta cheese in the food processor, with some goat yogurt, and a couple of tablespoons of basil pesto from the freezer, and whizzed it. Then, I made croutons from a flopped batch of sourdough bread by frying cubes in a skillet with fat, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. As soon as the broccoli was cooked, I drained it and in the same pot it had been in, made a white sauce with goat’s milk, flour, salt, pepper and paprika, and added cooked frozen mushrooms and the cheese mixture. I put the broccoli in a baking dish, poured the sauce mixture over it, and topped it with croutons. Then, I baked it for half an hour or so. It turned out quite good!There! Now, I can look back here when I want to remember how I did this.
Every one of our children has loved singing and music, and it looks as though this baby is no exception! One of the children found a CD they hadn’t listened to in awhile, yesterday, and put it in the CD player. It was Eduard Klassen, playing hymns on the Paraguayan folk harp, which is very beautiful music. Baby loved it–see his reaction below!
Last night, we took a picnic supper to Gore Bay. It was a warm, breezy evening, unusual for this time of year. Last week, when I took the children there for lunch one day, we had found a couple of rocks with fossilized bones sticking out of the top, and wanted to go back to take pictures of them. They are in a place you can only go at low tide, which is why we had to wait till evening yesterday. We got there about two hours before low tide.
The boys took off down the trail to the beach as soon as they were done eating, taking a cloth shopping bag with them to hold all the mussels they were planning to collect! The rest of us followed a little more leisurely. We were able to find the fossils we had seen the last time without too much trouble–and then found more and more and more!
A lovely paua shell.Baby appreciates rocks, too–salty ones, especially!
Finally we made our way to the south end of Gore Bay, where the boys were diligently hunting. After walking around a little on the rocks there, we decided to go around into Port Robinson. This was the only access to the Cheviot area in the early days, 100-130 years ago. Apparently, they would unload the ships and send the goods up some sort of track to the top of the cliffs. They say there is no trace of the port left at sea level.
I’m not sure what this tunnel was all about, but it opens out of the cliff just above the high tide line. As you can imagine, the boys were pretty excited when their Daddy found it–that is the sort of thing you generally only find in mystery stories!
The boys, of course, had to practice their mountain-climbing skills, in addition to gathering a shopping-bag nearly full of mussels (now I have to figure out how to cook them!).On our way back to the van, we stopped for a few minutes to chat with some tourists from Australia, and then got caught in the rain when it started suddenly. No one minded getting a little wet, though. Everyone agreed that this was a perfect way to spend an evening.