It was an insanely beautiful day today - much nicer than late October has any right to be. The sun was out in full glory, and I could feel the heat on my shoulders all day long as I completed various fall chores. This has not been a good year for leaves, and so even though the sky was a bright, washed blue, I did miss the sharp contrast of the yellow, gold, and red leaves against it.
Friday, October 14, 2011
That's an awfully petty complaint, though, isn't it?
I had a productive day. This morning, I went and cut a whole lot of grapes. A neighbor woman was advertising on Craigslist that she had a nearly unlimited amount of concorde grapes, and would sell them for $5 the five gallon bucket. That was the first thing I did this morning - cut grapes. It's a fine task - searching through the thick leaves, just beginning to wither and yellow, for the dark blue bunches. Her elderly pit-bull bitch followed me around the vineyard, occasionally pushing her wet nose into the back on my knee. It took me some twenty minutes to fill the bucket.
When I got home, I washed and sorted the grapes. I soon learned that only the very ripest and blackest of the grapes were sweet enough to eat out of hand. The majority of the grapes were dark red, but still sour. Not knowing quite what to do with them.I decided to juice them and boil down the juice (with added sugar) into a concentrated syrup that I could can and use throughout the winter to make grape juice. I saved out the sweetest for table grapes, and spent the next couple of hours juicing grapes and boiling down the resulting juice. I have to say, I'm not very happy with it. It isn't clear and claret-colored like store grape juice - it's kind of thick and brownish, and not very good looking. It tastes delicious, but I doubt it will make an attractive table beverage. Oh well.
Other freezer-related developments: we butchered the last two baby goats, and I put one of them into the freezer in the form of small, carefully wrapped packages of raw meat. The other was, as usual, steamed for several hours and consumed in the form of tacos. My family, my sister's family, and our friend C. the butcher's family all ate heartily, and there was enough leftover to send C. home with several pounds of shredded, cooked meat; to send my my brother-in-law home with a couple of pounds, and to put a couple of pounds in the freezer as well. According to my calculations, one medium-small seven month old goat can feed twelve adults and eight children, three times over. Or, I guess, thirty-six adults and twenty-four children. That is, of course, with side dishes, tortillas, beans, etc.
Lastly, we bought a side of beef. In years past, we have always bought a side of beef jointly with my sister's family - a quarter for each of us. That has always been plenty of beef. In fact, I think I just cooked the very last roast from last year's quarter last week. We didn't choose to get a whole beef because we wanted more meat. We did it because the farmer (a neighbor) couldn't find anyone to buy the other half of this small steer. Rather than lose the beef, I said we would take the whole thing. My sister's family is splitting their half with various relatives, but we haven't made any plans here. I seriously doubt we can use an entire half, so I'm going to have to look for somebody to share our half with.
Hey - if you live nearby - this is excellent beef, 100% grass raised and grass finished. We've bought from the same folks for four years running and I have never tasted such good beef in my life. I can see the cows out my front window and can personally vouch for the fact that they live happy, natural lives and that the land is beautifully cared for. You can get in touch with me through the blog if you are interested. I figure I have about a 100 pounds of beef to sell, in the form of hamburger, roasts, steaks, and ribs.