Okay, it’s been nearly a month.  Blame Facebook.  All those little updates make me feel like I’ve already reported on everything.  I’ll just throw some photos and information at you rather than trying to craft a coherent narrative.  You know, the usual.

Booth at the Middletown Heritage Days–total bust.  I sold two bags.  Granted, the weather went crappy after the first few hours, but people weren’t buying anything but sno cones and kettle korn.  There was a booth across from me that sold adorable origami earrings for 7 bucks each and they weren’t moving, either.  One needs misspelled junk food in order to make money at that thing apparently.  I just put everything up on my etsy shop and sold more in 6 hours than I did at the show.  I can sell even more if you go buy…www.sixgables.com

The fair was…unfair.  How I love fair food.  How loaded it is with gluten.  Couldn’t eat a damned thing.  Grr.  But still we went, the usual family trip on carload night, the individual mom-and-kid trips each afternoon, and then the 4-H scavenger hunt on Friday.  Our schools get the day off to go to the fair and usually we avoid that day as it’s sure to be mobbed.  The 4-H activity was in the morning, though, so we donned our green shirts and headed out.  I teamed up with Rose, who had her nice camera along, so there are actually photos, and I’m even in some of them:

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There was a combine set up with a slide in it.  This was easily as fun as the rides that took tickets:

I think perhaps they’ve oversold the fun of being chewed up and spit out by a combine harvester.  At least Mad Men viewers now know to watch out for John Deere…

One of the things they had to do/find on the hunt was to card wool:

They had to find an antique tractor, so that lead to playing on the tractors for at least as long as it takes for me to think “Enough already!  There is no key!  You cannot actually go anywhere!  A fie on your childish imagination!”

Studiously checking off the items we found:

And yes, Shepherd Football does sound like it might be one of the lamer Monty Python bits

And yes, "Shepherd Football" does sound like it might be one of the lamer Monty Python bits

The final item on the list was “Eat something you’ve never eaten before.”  We are dedicated eaters, but vegetarian, so that almost threw us, but the kids are nothing if not resourceful.  Julianna had never had a fried pickle (now whole and on a stick instead of previous years’ fried pickle chips.  A mistake, I think), Ben gave fried Oreos a whirl, Lily went for the new-this-year fried…wait for it…macaroni and cheese.

I just had some lemonade.  Sigh.  Not deep fried.  Sigh.

I did a bit of canning, although not as much as I’d have liked.  I made grape jam for the first time and it was YUM.  I’d only ever had grape jelly and I like the wee skin bits that are in jam.  I love concord grapes, they taste purple.  I ended up with 12 jars of grape jam to add to the peach and the strawberry I already had.  So when the zombie apocalypse comes, we’ll have jam to eat.  Or the zombies will have a lovely homemade condiment for our brains.  I also made the best spaghetti sauce ever, but it only came to 6 jars.  A lot of work for 6 meals.  I slow roasted all the tomatoes and cooked down the juices and broiled the vegetables…and oh it was a lot of steps over many days, but it is goooood.  No pickles this year, we still have some from last year.  Same with green beans.  I do have some dried beans from my garden, but again, not as much as I’d have thought.  But look at my pretty wee shelf in my dungeon:

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Oh, salsa, I also made salsa.  So you see above, from the left, watermelon pickles, tomatoes, green beans, peach-blueberry chutney (I have a lot of this.  it is good, but seriously, how much chutney do a bunch of white folk go through?),  peach jam, grape jam, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and salsa.  Strawberry jam is in the freezer so we’ll eat that first when the zombies come.

Yesterday, we went on a 4-H cider pressing adventure.  We rode out to pick apples on the tractor.  The farm, Distillery Lane Ciderworks, specializes in apples no one else is growing.  We picked Bramley’s Seedlings which were as big as a baby’s head.  Check it out:

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I just made a huge apple pie today and it took only 3 apples.  Haven’t tasted it yet, but the farmer assured us that this is England’s #1 pie apple.  and I was all “ooo, I’ll use THAT” until just now when I thought “I have no idea what England likes in an apple pie.  Apple Pie is an American thing.  Screw those limey bastards and their enormous flippin’ apples!”  Of course *I’ll* be eating a gluten free apple crisp while everyone else digs into that flakey crust.  Pity me.

Anyway.  We picked the baby head apples and some other kinds (one with pink flesh, which is weird) and then he drove us over so that we could toss fallen apples to the cattle.  Dude had it figured out, I must say.  Get people to pay YOU to come pick your apples and feed your cows.  He drove us back to the cider press room and while he was setting it up, the kids all ran around, wrestling, tossing apples for the dogs and generally behaving in that Idyllic Childhood way that makes you want to dip the whole moment in amber.

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To go into the cider room, we had to wear something on our heads.  As far as I can tell, it’s some sort of quasi-religious respect thing, b/c people were allowed to just put up the hood of a sweatshirt or wear a baseball cap, or, if you had no hood or cap, you got a little paper “Do you want fries with that?” circa 1970 hat from a box labled “Classy Caps.” I cannot imagine that any of these methods are keeping hair out of the cider.  So I have to assume it’s so as not to offend the gods.

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And he mushed them all and made them into cider which he then graciously offered to us at SEVEN FREAKING DOLLARS A GALLON.  To paraphrase Vincent Vega, it’s a good glass of cider, but it ain’t worth no 7 dollars.  Let us not forget, also, that we picked the damned things ourselves!  And sorted them!  Such a racket.  I’m trying to figure out how I can charge school kids to come clean my house or tend my garden.

let me know if you get a plan…

Edited to Add: had the apple crisp, which I made with the English pie apples.  It was…weird.  The apples tasted wrong.  So, lesson learned.  Don’t use Jimmy Dean sausage in Toad in the Hole.  Don’t use English pie apples.

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