08 August 2009

Canning, cutting, and cavorting

I spent a good part of the day processing tomatoes, as you might imagine. I used about two thirds of the harvest, I'd estimate, and I ended up with about 4 liters/quarts of puree. It cooked pretty much all day: a couple of hours in the morning before we sieved the seeds and skins out, and then at least a couple of hours in the afternoon, on low heat, so that it would reduce and thicken.

Once I sterilized some jars, put in the hot tomato puree, and put the tops on them, the lids all popped down, meaning they were sealed. I planned to put the jars in a boiling-water bath to process them for long-term storage, but I neglected to ascertain in advance that the jars would actually fit in one of our big stock pots.

They wouldn't. They are too tall. So this morning we ended up opening the jars, pouring the purée into plastic containers, and putting it all in the freezer after all. The jars will go to the recycling center. They're of no use to us.

Yesterday afternoon Walt started sawing wood for this coming winter's fires in the wood stove. He has to cut each meter-long log into three pieces, because that's what will fit in the stove. Below is a picture of our wood storage area, which is a carport we don't use otherwise.

The woodshed and the chevalet

Under the carport, you can see not only Walt's impeccable organizational skills on display, but you can also see his new chevalet. It's the thing he puts the logs on so that he can cut through them with the chainsaw. I think in English it's called a tooit. I figured that out because Walt said he would start cutting wood as soon as he got "a round tooit." And sure enough, as soon as he got the chevalet, he started. It doesn't look very round, but sometimes arcane technical terms have unintuitive meanings.

Up the hill and through the woods

When the tomato puree was in the ill-fated jars, I took Callie out for the afternoon trot through woods and vines. We headed north, down through the woods to the bottom of the hill, a few hundred yards on a flat path, and the west along another path through woods, up the hill to a paved road.

Callie alongside "her" rows of vines

The narrow paved road (about 9 feet wide) is the Route Touristique mapped out for people — tourists — to be able to drive through the vineyards and admire the neat rows of grapevines. Callie hates the paved road, so she hurries along, wanting nothing more than to get to a place where she can jump over the ditch and run down a row of vines to a place where cars can't go. We didn't see a single car along the half-mile of road we walked on, actually.

Callie in the tall grass

We cut across a field that is lying fallow. It is overgrown with various grasses and a lot of carottes sauvages — wild carrots. They're what we call Queen Anne's Lace. Isn't it very French to call a wildflower by a culinary name?


  1. No better place for a chevalet than in a carport!

  2. chm...Ouch...that one really hurts!

    It really is a "Charp Chevy", though, as is my Pontiac Pointu.

  3. They really are wild carrots you know – the ancestors of what we eat today. And the yellow flowered ones are wild parsnip.

  4. So that's what a round tooit looks like! I've been looking for one for ages. I'm sure Walt will make excellent use of his.


  5. Susan, two words: Daucus carota. Give me some credit!

    BettyAnn, the tooits are hard to find over here. Maybe it's a translation problem.

    CHM, no wonder it was so hard to find a chevalet. Didn't that company go out of business?

  6. chuckle chuckle chuckle chuckle :))

    (It's getting really hot here... going to be close to 100° this weekend.)


  7. You are so witty today!

    Glad you had a Plan B for the tomato sauce after all that work.

  8. I'm very envious of all that lovely tomato sauce. Are there any snakes in that long grass? I'd feel a little nervy.

  9. Ken: Well, I was a bit surprised :-)

    Sue: There's only one species of venomous snake in the Loire, and no one has died from being bitten by it for decades. They are rarely seen and even more rarely bite. But yes, there probably are snakes in the long grass – non-venomous couleuvre / grass snakes.

  10. Sue, our neighbors tell us to be careful about vipers, and they say they've seen them. We haven't. We have seen some grass snakes and a lot of lizards. I don't think a viper bite is immediately lethal. The person bitten has time to get to the doctor's or the hospital...


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