Monday, September 9, 2013

End of Summer Musings...and Easy Chicken

For the past two weeks, we've had temperatures in the high 90's. I know that's nothing big for a lot of people, but this is South Dakota! Our temps usually start tapering off around mid-August, and by Labor Day locals keep their jackets handy.

But this year everything has been late - we still had winter weather in April, spring weather in July, and now summer in September.

Wynter enjoying our April 22nd snow storm :)

Finally, though, summer seems to be winding down...finally :)

And on Friday, the produce truck arrived in town! A local hardware store brings a truck in from the Northwest (the Fresh Pioneer's neck of the woods), and it's our opportunity to buy produce for canning. 

I bought a few cases....

Tomatoes...peaches...pears...plums...potatoes.... Oh My!

(And I still have a deadline in September....)

But the story is getting done, and the canning is coming along!

I can tomato sauce in both quarts and pints. Quarts for soup,
pints for tacos and sloppy joes.

I used my 20 ounce jars for the peaches. I haven't seen
this size canning jar before or since, but these were in a box I picked
up at a garage sale years ago. They're just the right size

We still have pears, plums and vegetable beef soup to go, so you know what I'll be doing next week!

My grandmother called these "prune-plums". They're just the
right size for canning!

Meanwhile, I just drink in the sight of this wonderful bounty straight from God's grocery store! And working on stocking up the pantry, as our GAL Julie talked about last weekend: What's in Your Pantry?

Wait a minute! I have a family to feed, don't I? 

I think I could probably live off peaches for a week, but the family might complain. It's a good thing I found this wonderful convenience item (and yes, I'm a sucker for the free samples at Sam's Club!)

All natural and NO MSG! Don't you love it?

This stuff is great.

One day I cooked some chicken pieces with this as the seasoning...

...not too much kick - just enough. We had that with some Cole slaw and dinner rolls, and it was a great meal for 95°+ weather.

Another day I fixed chicken the same way, and we had it wrapped in tortillas with everyone's garnish of choice. (I would have loved mine with avocados, but didn't have any on hand, so I made do with lettuce, salsa and cheese.)

And it was another great hot-weather supper.

Even with all these wonderful summer dishes, we're all looking forward to soup and homemade bread weather around here!

And the right weather to fire up this puppy:

It's a soapstone stove from the Hearthstone
Company. We've been dreaming of one of
these for years!

We had our wood stove installed in May. 


It's in the corner next to my desk. I plan on firing it up sometime in October and keeping the fire going until April, at least :)

And as summer swings around into fall, it's time to share some dog day pictures!

Thatcher at 23 weeks - almost grown up!

But his nickname is "tiny puppy"

Or "short stuff"

And a smile from Wynter! She's almost nine years old.
We call her "the big dog" or "the old lady."

So tell us - are you looking forward to fall? Or will you hold on to summer as long as you can?

Me? I'm a cold weather lover. Give me those -10° temperatures!!!


  1. I can't wait. I love soup and it's hard to eat warm soup in 90 degree weather. Gazpacho doesn't cut it.

    So envious of the wood stove AND the tomatoes. Folks' tomato crop did miserably this season with all the rain. I didn't get to put up any sauce at all. I am distraught.

    But puppy pictures help.

    1. You've had a LOT of rain this year! Such a contrast to last year's drought.

      Gardens around here did okay, but no one could plant anything until the end of May. I thought we wouldn't get much of anything, but this September heat has extended our growing season.

      And puppy pictures always help, don't they?

      By the way, he's hit adolescence. The family is beginning to question whether he has any brains at all. I tell them to just wait. They all went through the same stage. :)

  2. Well, until the last 2 days, we've had the same hot temps as you, Jan. A couple weeks ago, I was pining for the snow and -40 temps. With a picture window we can't open, and without air conditioning, our living room was heading up to 30C/90F. Our ceiling and floor fans only seemed to push the hot air around. Ugh. I prefer the temp to stay around 20-25C/70-80F range.

    The peaches we bought at Co-op last week were so sweet! I wonder if it was the variety or the weather? I enjoy Prune plums and they are good this year, too, but have something on their skins that don't allow them to be perfect looking.

    I don't can any more, probably because my family prefers the fresh/trucked in fruit than something that comes out of a can/jar. When I lived in Ontario, I used to can apple pie fillng and I loved that in the winter! Make a crust, open a jar of filling, and presto! :D

    1. Oooh, apple pie filling!

      I've heard the orchard near my parents have a bumper crop of apples this year, so we'll be picking up multiple bushels while we're there for a visit in a couple weeks. I'll have to turn some of them into pie filling. It's great for cobblers, too!

      And the heat has been brutal with no AC, hasn't it? We have AC in the house (we use it rarely, but we sure are thankful for it when we need it!), but the schools and some businesses in town don't. So all last week the schools had early release, just to send the kiddos home before the buildings heated up too much. It was in the mid-90's inside the buildings by noon most days.

  3. I'm just waiting for the temp to get below the 90s! come on fall!
    I also like chili and soup - though I've had those in the summer too since the a/c cranks non-stop it seems like...also looking forward to a lower electric bill once the temps get reasonable!

    cute doggies - I still like Wynter bestest! :-)


    1. I'm not looking forward to this month's electric bill! I'm saving up for it now :(

      Wynter is such a fuzzy dog, isn't she? When she still had her puppy fur, she was exactly like a plush toy. And she's such a the family. Very protective when strangers are around, though! I guess that's a husky trait.

  4. Jan, I am SOOOO ready for fall and winter. Summer is overrated. Especially when it hangs around forever. I do like the cool weather better. I can always add more layers.

    Love the fresh produce and I'm going to have to look for the seasoning next time I'm at Sam's. Sounds yummy.

    BTW, Thatcher is such a cutie. He gets more adorable all the time.

    1. Oh yes. Layers! If the long sleeves aren't enough, add a sweater. And a hat.

      My favorite is a shawl, because I can cover my head or not.

      Of course, since I work at home, there's no one to tell me how ridiculous I might look...and I don't look in the mirror :)

  5. Ahhh, Thatcher is growing up! I feel like a proud mom. LOL

    I'm so impressed with you canning! And I'm going to buy some of that spice mix. Sounds like something I'll love.

    BTW, do NOT wish summer away, please! I never want cold weather to come.

    1. That spice mix is fabulous. I use it lightly, but you can always put more on for more of a kick.

      And it's so easy to use.... :)

      Are we wishing summer away? Not so much as wishing fall here, I think. But it's a good thing you live in the south. You'd hate our nine months of cool to cold weather.

  6. I'm with you, Jan -- love the cooler weather! Autumn is my favourite season. I'm jealous of your canning. I use to can tomatoes and peaches and pears but since I've been working in schools I'm always besieged by back-to-school stuff at harvest time.

    Thank you for the Thatcher pics. He's such a stunning dog. Love his markings. He looks wise even for a teen dog. Ugh, Simba is hanging over me with his intense 'feed me I'm starving' look that means I'm late for dishing out supper. Gotta run.

    1. When we were homeschooling, I'd plan our fall schedule around the canning season. Tomatoes were done before school started, then we'd hit the books for six weeks, and then take a fall break just in time for apple season! Oh, the joys of setting your own schedule! (But, of course, the pay is lousy for your bank account...)

      And I know that "feed me I'm starving" look. Thatcher is definitely food-oriented, so I have to work hard to keep him from getting fat. I measure out his food and feed him on a schedule. Poor dog.

      But fat corgis are unhealthy corgis - especially for their backs. Slim and trim is the way to go (and the daily walks are good for me, too!)

  7. Wow! I missed this awesome post! This is what I get for not popping in. Live everything about this!!! And I'm coming yo live with you. You obviously know how to eat well!! Yummy!!"