So, remember that big hole in our yard in early August?

It's coming along.

Fortunately, the foundation wall was not washed down the hill by Irene. The storm and the flooding did set us back a little though. It has been pretty soggy here, and the excavators (both the man and his machine) have been down in Schoharie helping out these last few weeks. Finally, though, it all came together last week for the last concrete pour: the slab!

It's beautiful!

So, it's getting pretty barny here. Now we just  have to figure out how to get the timber frame up.
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Maybe the Best Thing I Learned This Summer

One June day, craving fruit, I stopped at a farm stand. It was a hot afternoon and the strawberries looked a little squishy, but the farmer seemed nice, so I wanted to buy something. I settled on a quart of chanterelle mushrooms.  I'm not sure I had ever had a wild mushroom. Upon closer examination of the fungi, though, I had the feeling I had seen them before, like recently, maybe while walking the dog in the woods behind our house.

As luck would have it, our friends Brian and Kasia were visiting that weekend. Kasia is from Poland, where apparently mushroom hunting is a national avocation. She is a mushroom queen. When we all went walking in the woods, I pounced on a little golden growth in the field at the top of the hill. "Not so fast," she cautioned, showing me how the ribs on the bottom of the cap stopped suddenly where the cap joined with  skinny stem. Not a chanterelle at all. Oh well.

Not yet, that is. For just a little way down the path, more apricot-colored fungi poked out of the forest undergrowth. These had thick stems with ribs partway down them. They smelled kind of sweet. And they were everywhere in this section of the woods. I took the bandanna off my head to collect them and soon ran out of room, so Fin took off his long-sleeved shirt and we loaded them into his shirt too. At various spots on the trail, Kasia the mushroom queen would pointedly detour. We'd follow her to whatever random mushroom den she had miraculously located with her eagle eye and collect them. When we got home, we had a huge pile of chanterelles! I did a spore print to make sure. We ate them the next day and didn't die. In fact, they were delicious.

2 1/2 pounds - we weighed them
There's a bolet in there too.


Harvest Moon Harvest

The harvest moon has been shining bright the past few nights, but I harvested these eggplants during the day. Over half a bushel!
Vardaman the cat endorses these eggplants
There's more out there too. This is the first successful eggplant crop for me. We started them in late May with fabric row covers that gave us a head start and also protected the plants from flea beetles, which usually devour my baby eggplant seedlings within a week. In late June or early July, when the plants were ready to flower, we took off the row covers. Nothing really happened until August, when suddenly there were eggplants everywhere!
Some of them, I grilled and pressure-canned. The USDA does not recommend canning eggplant at all, so hopefully we will not get botulism when we make baba ghanoush all winter. I made a batch of baba ghanoush to eat right away too, of course. Here's how:
4-5 small-medium eggplants
1 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1-3 cloves of garlic (you can probably guess where I stand on the garlic spectrum)
salt & pepper
parsley (chopped)
Roast or grill the eggplants until they are mushy. Let them cool and scrape the mushy insides into the bowl of your food processor. Add the tahini, garlic, and olive oil and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in parsley last so the whole thing doesn't turn green. Eat it on pita, with crudite, or on sandwiches.


Building an Ark on the Hilltop

It’s Wednesday, September 7th, and it’s raining torrentially again. I’m feeling antsy, wondering what’s going on in the valley. A week and a half ago, Hurricane Irene swept through here, devastating Schoharie County and many other places in upstate New York. More rain is the last thing we need right now.

This is the view from Vroman's Nose in Middleburgh on Monday, August 29. The Schoharie Creek normally winds around those submerged trees at the bottom of the hill in the back of the photo.
Photo from the Albany Times Union

Irene was forecast to be a pretty big storm. Fin, my friend Clara - up from Brooklyn for a visit - and I spent Saturday morning preparing. We cleaned up the yard, filled a couple of water buckets, brought all the houseplants and hanging baskets inside, got some movies at the library, and hauled out the generator, just in case.

We awoke to rain on Sunday. Shortly after that, the power went out. It did not come back on until Friday night, almost a week later. We spent the day reading, napping, knitting, snacking, and comparing notes with friends downstate. Outside, the wind blew the rain horizontal. The tiny stream that runs next to our house overwhelmed the culvert and there were several inches of water on the road. The rain slowed down in the evening, and we milked the goats and made grilled veggies and couscous in the twilight. Before we went to bed we watched a strong wind blow the remaining clouds away, revealing a sky full of stars, brighter for the lack of electric light anywhere in the vicinity.