Saturday, May 25, 2013

I am posting a Memorial Day blog a day early. It is about getting ready for the holiday. I did not write about the brave men and women who have kept America free and continue to do so. It is because of them I can still write this blog, still enjoy the love of my family, and travel to be with them without restriction. Fellow soldiers and sailors, I salute you.
I have included a friend's recipe for those who do canning. The flavor in wonderful. By including it, I wanted to change my usual ramblings into something more. I may include a recipe from time to time when it adds to the story.

Prepping For Memorial Day
Who would have thought that I would almost get frost bite of the fingers on Memorial Day weekend? It was cold, windy, and damp. The weather channel announced that there would be the possibility of widespread frost. I had most of my garden already set out. The tender plants would be very susceptible to the frost and would probably die. There was no way I wanted all of my work to come to naught nor did I want the added expense of replacing my tomatoes and pepper plants. The seeds I had sown had not sprouted and were in no danger from the cold.
My garden is about thirty-two by twenty-four feet. It’s not huge, but it’s all I want and need. I planted twenty-six tomato plants: Heinz Hybrid, Roma, and a couple of Beef steak. Twenty-nine pepper plants; California Wonder and Hot wax banana peppers planting them in two rows. There is a reason for so many peppers. I want to can a pepper mix that has many uses. A widowed lady friend named Marie gave us the recipe. It had no name listed on the handwritten note, so we’ve always called it “Marie’s Pepper Mix.” It is a great sauce to put over a beef roast as it cooks, to top a hamburger straight out of the jar, or cooked with ground beef it makes a great sloppy Joe.
In a large pot or kettle, combine one large onion diced, one clove of garlic chopped, and two kegs of ketchup. (Sixty-four ounces.) Slowly start to heat stirring in one cup of sugar and one cup of oil. Adding twenty-five green peppers and thirty hot wax banana peppers that have been cut into strips or coarsely chopped. (When we made it we made the pepper ratio about equal parts to adjust the heat of peppers in the mix.)
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently until the peppers start to soften. Ladle while hot into clean pint jars, cap, and cold pack for fifteen to twenty minutes.

The cold weather and the thought of losing those plants caused me grief. I made newspaper tents for each one, folding and stapling them. Out in the garden I placed one of the caps over each plant for protection. I looked out of the bedroom window in the morning. I didn’t see any frost, but the paper bonnets reminded me of boat sails on a chocolate sea. They were still in place even after the brisk winds.
I needed to finish mowing. The rain had interrupted me and had to quit about two thirds done. I donned a heavy jacket, work gloves, and a cap with ear flaps. I was ready to face the forty degree weather. I started my Toro riding lawn mower and started mowing. The wind seemed to be lazy. It wanted to go through me and not around. In the half hour I needed to finish the mowing, my fingers were stiff and cold. The wind had blown the cold through the fabric of my gloves. I went inside to wash my hands. The warm water stung my heat deprived fingers. After forty-five minutes of thawing, they felt almost normal.
As I sat relaxing, I remembered I had bought patriotic red, white, and blue bunting for the railings of the front porch. I gathered the things that I needed and carried them outside. I couldn’t wear glove to tie them into place and after fifteen minutes, the bunting was hung and my fingers were again cold and stiff.
The yard and the house looks good, but I felt like “Nanook of the North.”

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