Environment Kitchen Garden

Then Rain Came


LAKE MACBRIDE— A co-worker and I were talking about the weather on the farm. For city-folk readers, people who work in agriculture do that a lot. I asked her, “when was the last rain?” Without hesitation, she answered, “in July.” And except for a couple of sprinkles, last night’s rain was the first since then. It was luxuriant.

My job at the orchard is related to the u-pick operation, and the rain meant customer activity would be suppressed after a very busy Saturday of temperatures in the 70s and clear skies. No orchard work for me today, so, to the grocery store to pick up some necessities and soon I’ll be at work in the kitchen preserving food.

There is a lot of food to work on. The first crop of apples is ready to be used today or never, so that will happen. It will either be juice or apple butter. Not sure yet. The pears are also in, so I’ll use 4-5 pounds to make a batch of pear butter while the rest ripen.

I have half a gallon of Concord grapes, from which I will make jelly.

From the aging hot and bell peppers, I’ll make pepper sauce with onion, tomato and garlic. Anything tomato-y or onion-y will get added to the pot. It is a variation on my traditional hot sauce mix, and designed to use up produce in the refrigerator. This will be run through the food mill and processed in pint jars.

Tomatoes are everywhere in the kitchen and garden. Some will be canned, some cooked into a batch of chili, and not sure what else. The vines are really producing this year, in my garden and at other local food sources.

So with this tentative plan in place, off to the kitchen and the work of sustaining a life on the Iowa prairie.

Update: 9:19 p.m. The stove was on most of the day, and I made chili and fruit salad for dinner, seven pints of pear butter, three pints of concord grape jelly, two pints of diced tomatoes, and six quarts, one pint and one half pint of hot pepper sauce. Did two loads of dishes and cleaned all the pots and pans before retiring to bed.