It's been unseasonably warm here in Maine this month, and even more so - unseasonably dry. Gardening is tricky in this weather, since we're not usually set up for needing to water this late into the season. But we're making it work, slowly and by hand (or by rain barrel or with a hose that travels a very long way from the house and therefore trickles by the time it hits the plants). The heat has us jumping in the lake (or ocean) as much as is physically possible in a day, but not really lingering by the shore. Too warm, it is declared (I know...listen to the Mainer's struggle with low 90s weather).
Our house, thanks to the smart ones who built it two-hundred years ago, faces in just the right direction and stays cool all day long downstairs. It's comfortable, and precisely where we all find ourselves retreating to on such hot days. This weekend found us all in more than out as a result. Games, music, art....and canning, of course. Because when it's so warm, why NOT turn the oven on and get just a little bit warmer? (More of a case is being made by the day for a summer kitchen! Someday, perhaps!). I had a few marathon sessions of canning and freezing this weekend, and the shelves of preserves are filling up quickly as a result. This is without a doubt our best raspberry year yet (year four of the plants), which is delightful. Some thinning of the carrots made for a big batch of carrot pesto for the freezer. I harvested some of our fennel for a relish. And the beets just keep coming in, begging to be stored for January. While I'm still water bath canning for some things and pressure canning for others, I added a steam canner to the mix this year. I was hesitant to add another 'gadget' to the kitchen, both for the storage challenge and the unnecessary complication factor, but I'm won over. The process is just so much easier, uses less water and takes less time (heating up that big pot in the hot water bath canner always takes a while). I'm only using it with high-acid foods and thus far, have only used the recipes that came with the canner itself. Steam canners, if you didn't know, are a bit controversial. I've been following the guidelines by the Utah State University Extension for doing so.
The weekend built up like that - a lot of time in the kitchen working on this or that that was being preserved, breaks for running and jumping in the lake, a game of dominoes here and there....and waiting, waiting, waiting for the break in the air that only the rain can bring. It came, finally, just after dinner on Sunday night. Heavy, cool, comforting rains that sent us all out to be poured on, and as quickly as it came, the sun returned. This time, a bit easier to handle, thanks to the rain.