Ahh!…The End of a Beautiful Summer!

…southeastern Pennsylvania style!  You may have read Sharon’s post with this same title, so here is my edition of our ‘end of summer’ here in countryville, Pennsylvania!  In Utah, summer means hiking in mountains and canyons, rodeos, and Utah Statehood days; in our neck of the woods, it means stocking and storing up Summer’s Bounty!

Last year, I posted about canning tomatoes, something I had never done before!  Then I tasted the canned tomatoes.  I was sold on them.  The problem was, in January, I ran out.  And then it was, that I decided, rain or shine, this next summer, I would can tomatoes, and I would can a lot of them!  So last week I did twenty-four quarts, and may have more to come!  Have you ever tasted home-canned tomatoes?  Suffice it to say, I don’t mind if I never taste store-bought canned tomatoes again!Oh yes, and those green beans are actually remnants of last summer’s bounty!  They have a story of their own you can read if you missed it last year!

Then there is the sweet corn.  Oh, the sweet corn!  A dear friend (and even more dearer now!) blanched and froze corn with another lady from church.  Kindly, she offered to give us a bag.  I expected one ziploc bag of frozen fresh corn for us to taste.  Well, she awarded us with a grocery bag full of sweet corn!  Wow, what a blessing!  We tasted it for the first time last Sunday.  I hate to be prejudice, but it had to be the best I remember!  It had no sugar added to it, and yet was soooooo sweet!  And the flavor and even texture were perfect!  Come to find out, it was from this church lady’s Amish neighbors.  Well, they must know the secret to raising and harvesting sweet corn!

Then there are all the berries!  Last year we picked wine berries, a type of red raspberry, and I also picked blueberries.  Well, this year I went the easy route, and simply bought blueberries and strawberries.  I had to get up a good store of strawberries for Dustin’s favorite smoothie: Strawberry-Banana-Orange Juice.  Bananas are still easy to find in the winter, as is orange juice, but strawberries go from $1-2/quart to $5-6/quart!

And last, but not least, we made refrigerator pickles.  Dustin had a taste for pickles, and so after some research, we decided to make our own.  We found a good recipe, put the spices into the jars, sliced and chopped cucumbers to fill them, and added the vinegar and water.  They look mighty tasty, but we have to wait one more week for them to ‘pickle’ before eating them.

And there you have it…this time of year is very busy here in rural PA!  There are produce stands all over the place, not to mention the farm markets; and some ladies at our church are very busy canning and freezing and pickling!  We certainly don’t compare to the stockpiles some families amass, but we do make our own feeble attempt to preserve Summer’s Bounty!

How Big is Your Eggplant?

665A0486The Quarryville-Solanco Fair, in the heart of countryville.  The epitomy of “country”.  There are no rides, and only one stand for each type of food, which consists of the following:  One barbecue beef stand, one submarine sandwich stand, one icecream/shake stand, and one funnel cake stand with a VERY LONG line!  Someone really ought undercut those funnel cake people and invent a slightly better recipe –they would certainly make out!  And I don’t know why the submarine sandwich-sellers set up camp right next to the prize-winning barbecue pork!  That was a bad marketing decision!  Hmmm, was that barbecue delicious!  665A0487

Many of the other items at this fair are common to most county fairs; after all, fairs are, in themselves, a sort of celebration of “country”.  There were many sorts of crafts entered in the competition, including quilts, dresses, crocheted items, and even baked goods.  Then there were the canned goods!  I wonder how those are judged…by appearance perhaps!  And there were cows and pigs to be shown and bought.  There were even little duck chicks…adorable!

665A0488Then we saw the produce section!  Tomatoes, corn stalks, forage (like small bales of grass or hay!…now isn’t that going a little too far?!  There were huge pumpkins, and all kinds of garden goods, even eggplant!  I guess it is a contest to see who can grow the biggest and most beautiful items!  Marcia and I decided next year we were going to stop by Weis grocery on the way,and buy some tomatoes to put on a styrofoam plate, and enter them in the fair next year!


How big is your eggplant?!

What Country Bumpkins Do for Fun

665A0481It is true…I am becoming a country bumpkin.  For after my first experience at canning tomatoes, I allowed myself to be wooed into canning green beans!  So for five hours I snapped.  And snapped.  And squirted the green beans at Alyssa.  And snapped some more.  And kept on snapping.  It was a bit different than canning tomatoes with three other ladies helping!   Just Jenny Starr and I worked on two bushels of beans: one for her and one for me.  And what I learned is that it takes a very long time to snap two bushels of green beans!

We did have some entertainment, however, when we learned that upon snapping them, some emit a slight spray of green bean juice on you.  Then, when turned toward Alyssa, Jenna, or Brandon, they emit the same slight spray on them.   So before long, we were reaching across the table, interrupting homeschool work which was going on, and running around from person to person squirting!  I guess that is what country bumpkin children do for fun!  (But I was right in the middle of it too…Does that mean I am one too?!)  At the end of the day I came home with thirty-two pints of green beans to put up on the closet shelf next to the quarts of tomatoes!  They were tasty, but I must say, that if it were not for the fellowship, I probably would not can green beans again!

The Pressure Cookers

The Finished Product

Oh no! Am I Becoming a Country Bumpkin?

Well, for all of you who didn’t hear me voice my expectations before moving to Pennsylvania, they were not necessarily the most favorable.  The only thing I knew about Mt. Zion Baptist Church was Marcia (Starr) Hardecker –WOW!, and the fact that Marcia’s mom sent my mother a canned cake one time.  Who ever heard of canned cake?  And WHY?  I mean, Y2K scared some people, but what was the worst that could possibly happen?  We would be back to living off the land and cooking from scratch!  And wouldn’t dry cake mix keep just as long as cake in a can, and how do you even can cake?  Who was the person that came up with that idea?  It was all beyond me.  Then I found out about the quilting ministry!  What kind of a church has a quilting ministry?  And do I have to be there every week, as an assistant pastor’s wife?  I thought, Here I am going to this church in the wilderness, to can my life away, and quilt, and probably much more!

Well, it wasn’t that  bad at all!  Actually, I am very happy here.  It is definitely a country church, but there is something special about that as well.  Most here are very hardworking and eager to help whenever anyone needs it.  They are faithful soulwinners and ministry-minded people.   And of course, God knew exactly what He was doing placing us here.  It is a strong, Bible-believing church; the people, like born-again, Godly people the world round, are very kind, helpful, generous, and hospitable.  As for the quilting ministry, it is composed of a handful of dear ladies who make quilts and give them to our missionaries; AND… well, I am even adapting to the canning!!!  I have this strange knack for adapting to wherever I am at.  In Mexico, a friend said, you are almost, almost Mexican, the only thing you lack is to have been born in Mexico! (Minor detail!)


And now, in “Country”ville (A.K.A. the middle of nowhere!), I am canning tomatoes like a native!  Last Wednesday, Mrs. Starr said her and Heidi (daughter), were going to can tomatoes, and if I wanted, I could come.  By the time I arrived Thursday morning, they were done with the first batch.  “Do you want to go get tomatoes and do some for yourself, Andrea…our first batch went very quickly…go ahead!”  So, Heidi and I went, bought tomatoes, and headed back to the house to start my batch.  I think I got twelve quarts out of that first half-bushel of tomatoes.  Then, Marcia (other daughter) called…”Marcia, we’ve already got everything set up to can, if you want to, come on over and do some for yourself –Oh, wait, Andrea says bring another half box of tomatoes for her to do more!”  (What, Andrea? The one who did not want to come to this Countryville Church?)  Yes!  So then Marcia came, and we did another box for me and one for her!  Does it ever end?  And I walked out that day with twenty-six quarts of canned tomatoes!  What are Dustin and I going to do with all of those?  Well, they will last through the year, and I can give them away to friends also, such as my Mother-in-law, my Dad back home, and others.  But, when dear old Mrs. Whitmore asked me in church Sunday, “Could you use some more tomatoes?”  I said, “Well, I think we are good for now, but thank you!”

…we will officially have internet on Monday the 24th, which will be nice!