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All these past days we’ve been very busy still making food preservations … we’ve finished with the tomato sauce (~40 liters of it), made another batch of the miraculous winter salad, a failed Zakuska which will hopefully keep is a nice complementary dish to cooked rice, prune compote and jam, more pickles (this time of cauliflower, carrot and peppers).

Today we decided to start the day with a bit of movement before sitting down for more cooking … so we went and harvested walnuts from three trees on our property – one tree nice and and large nuts, a second young tree with a little medium sizes nuts and a third large tree with many but small nuts. We hope to have time to do some pruning and coppicing of many trees this autumn and to see if/how they come to life. We’ll probably be using a lot of the wood for constructing our first large raised beds.

I spent the better part of the day splitting open the green shells of the walnuts – my hands are well stained (though we have quite a few experiments planned t actually use the stain for numerous applications!) and the shells accounted for about half the volume and weight … but still have a very nice crop of nuts for the winter. At some point I also started taking care of more eggplants and peppers that were roasting on the rocket stove. Andreea was busy expanding our next-year-seed-reservoir by adding eggplant, garlic and thyme seeds … we already have tomato, peppers and basil set aside (all from fresh crops).

We’re starting to see the end of the winter food preservation process … still planning to make another batch of prune jam, pear compote and jam, two more Zakuska (both of which we started preparing for today) … oh and we finally got a 120 liter plastic barrel we are going to fill with pickled cabbages.

It has been called attention that we have some kind of wood-infestation in the house … mostly in the older furniture we haven’t tossed out (though we will soon) and (unfortunately?) a bit in some of the visible beams. It seems to be slow acting … but we do need to look into it. We finally ordered a large batch of wood for furniture and construction (long story I will tell in detail) … should be delivered in the coming days … so I am looking forward to picking up with more carpentry … there are quite a few more things we need to get done for winter.

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3 days have flown past … the 20kg of roasted peppers have finished their journey and become a large load of delicious Zakuska. Another large batch of Zakuska with onions, eggplant and peppers is also ready and slowly cooling down.

We also created a wonderful thing called a winter salad which includes finely chopped parsley roots & leaves, celery roots and leaves, carrots, green peppers, red peppers and dill … all mixed with a lot of salt to keep it preserved. It’s a ready to use cooking mix … we’ve tested it already and it is amazing. Chop an onion add some of the mix and you are good to go (it’s already salted too!).

Today we had guests over (a lovely couple who are preparing for a home-birth and have asked Andreea to be there with them as a doula) … so we didn’t get as much done as we had planned. We did managed to prepare another large batch of tomato sauce.

After tasting everything its getting harder to avoid eating it daily.

The rocket stove continues to rock day after day … amazing productivity with very little wood!

oh … and the dogs (the big ones) practically tried to kill each other the other night … not a nice ending for a long day of work.

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Today we focused on peppers … from the big load we got yesterday evening.

Andreea chopped some up for freezing and preparation for other dishes.

I stood at the rocket stove all day and roasted 27.5kg of red peppers … a whole lot. I continue to be in awe of the efficiency of the rocket stove. At the end of the day it was really burning hot (got a blister when I pulled out one of the rear bricks to clean it out) … I had boiling water for a bath in minutes.

We got another batch (28kg) of tomatoes – the last from our next door neighbors … waiting their turn at the Squeezo.

I am dead tired again … now going to sit down together with Andreea to eat, watch a movie and peel all those peppers.

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phew … long day … again … thank god the days are getting shorter … otherwise we would probably be working even more hours.

food preservation is an intense and focused effort … much produce is needed simultaneously … so there is a sudden wave of work that can’t be put off … otherwise the produce will spoil. We are so looking forward to repeating this next year with food from our own garden!

this morning we started off slowly and agreed to keep it a light and easy day … yeah right!!!

We focused on apples … started with fresh picking … which was the easiest part. If you count all the apples I’ve eaten in my life … it doesn’t come close to the number that I peeled today.  The skin on my index finger is literally warn off from pressing against the peeler … but anyways we ended up with almost 20 liters of lovely sweet apple compote and 7+ jars of apple jam. I think tomorrow we will round the apple theme off by making some apple juice concentrate (we don’t have the tools yet to crush and press apples for cider … maybe next year).

The ducks and chickens were great help in collecting and eating the apple remainders … though they couldn’t put a dent in the quantity we had … so three buckets of leftovers went to the neighbors for their pigs.

We ended the day by hopping over to another neighbor where we loaded the car again with much goods (freshly picked for us today!) mostly carrots and peppers. Tomorrow we expect to pick up from our next door neighbor onions and another big load of tomatoes for more tomato sauce!

We are learning the ins-and-outs of cooking-based preservation … many subtle details to improve on … hope to collect them in an orderly way and publish them soon … many little things that nobody told us and I wish they had!

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Went out early this morning to do the second layer of finishing on the kitchen sink cabinet.

Then most of the day went to more food preservations. More peppers were roasted (~3.5kg) and then cooking. Andreea’s intentions were to make our first Zakuska (a generic Romanian name for a diverse range of cooked vegetable mash like things … really tasty … and a substitute for vegetables during the cold winter months) – which we have are. A large pot is on the stove in its last cooking stage and the jars are outside in the rocket stove. Soon we will bring the jars in, sterilize them in the over, fill them and cook them some more … then the day will be over.

But I also suggested we start making apple compote … to which Andreea agreed … but later we realized we took on too much … didn’t have enough large pots … etc. But we did make two  jars which came out really tasty … the leftovers are awaiting us after dinner. The compote project will be resumed … hopefully tomorrow.

… and in the midst of it all I did some light sanding and polishing of the kitchen cabinet … the sink _and faucet are installed and the cabinet is now functional … looks great. It doesn’t have doors for now … we’ll see what to do about that later. It also doesn’t have a back … I’ll take care of that once we finish the plumbing.

Andreea is calling me … time to bring the jars in and bring this day one step closer to a close.

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Another long day gone bye … great stuff today too.

Our neighbors are separating (we think they were a great couple), she is staying here (which makes us happy) and he is going back to his home-village. We purchased from them one of their hay piles .. and this morning he brought it over to our place. We had a coffee together and said goodbye … we were sad to see him go.

I finished assembling and applying a first coat of finish to the kitchen sink cabinet. Tomorrow another coat pf finish then some fine sanding and polishing and another piece of furniture goes to work for us 🙂 I also assembled a tricky part of the base of the shower stall … a skeleton which creates the drainage for the stall … worked out great too.

Andreea was back at the rocket stove continuing our food preservation work … this time she roasted 10kg eggplant and 5kg peppers … both as a preparation for two different kinds of Zakuska.

At the end of the day we used the running rocket to heat bath water … I pushed lots of wood in to see how fast it can heat water and we had steam coming out of ~15 liters of water in 20 minutes. Hot water was great … though it is getting cool in the evenings (and it was freakin cold in the morning).

Food is warming … nice to be at the end of another fruitful day.

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Roadtrip to Piatra Neamt & Bacau

On the day we moved out of the city we set out on a Roadtrip through Piatra Neamt (Andrreea’s home town) to Bacau where Andreea’s aunt prepared many village goods for us. I’ll get to the visit itself in a follow-up post, for now I’ll leave you to enjoy some of images of a beautiful green Romania:

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Super long and fruitful today for us … we are beat but extremely satisfied:

  • In the morning we drove to pick up fresh milk and carry over large quantities of freshly picked vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants and peppers) from our neighbors.
  • Then it was humanure-hacienda time for me … we had a full load (4 buckets) to unload 🙂
  • Andreea processed the 20kg of tomatoes into 10 liters of tomato sauce (some of which she also cooked into soup we really shout sit down and eat). The Squeezo was fantastic … we have pictures of the process and will publish it in detail soon. 1o sealed bottles are now wrapped in blankets next to the wall … slowly cooling. We plan to do ~60kg more of tomatoes … and to think that next year we will do this with self grown tomatoes.
  • I almost completed unloading the car from all the stuff we brought back from the city.
  • I decided to assemble first and then finish the kitchen sink cabinet. Went very well … great fun seeing the pieces (started from yucky junk wood) come together … and the sink fit like a charm! Tomorrow a bit more assembly and then finishing (which was the plan for today)

It now seems that Loui (the puppy) doesn’t like being left alone at all … and repeatedly takes a walk down the path to the neighbors’ gate (~200 meters) and whines until they let him in. He’s figured out it works and that he likes it … so there!

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Hate the city … I feel like led weights are tied to my legs when I walk in the city … so much superficiality, so much lack of focus (people literally walk lousy), so crowded, so noisy… arghh …

… we did manage to make an efficient day of it – came back with a car loaded (again) with cardboard boxes (intended for sheet mulching), a second batch of jars for winter food preservations, went to apply for a car-tax refund in the county offices, purchased food supplies, finishing materials for additional kitchen furniture AND came home with our Squeezo which made it all the way from the USA … more on that story soon.

We got home and the cherry on top for the busy day was a missing puppy – no where to be seen. Apparently he didn’t like that we left for the day so he strolled over to our neighbors, whined until they opened the gate for him (he’s been there before numerous times with us) … and spent the afternoon there … which is where Andreea found him.

Need to recuperate … looking forward to a soft day tomorrow … easy work with finishing the kitchen sink cabinet … we purchased the water-based material I much prefer to work with … which means I may be able to get all the finishing done by Monday!

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It’s 5:30am and sleep has left me … actually it left quite a while ago … it’s just that now I have surrendered to it being gone 🙂

Day before yesterday:

  •  Started off as a great router-work day. I managed to do some half-decent routing work on the posts of our soon-t0-be kitchen sink cabinet. I was very happy with the results.
  • We then went out for a quick visit to the village, when we got back it was really hot out … so that pretty much ended our work day.
  • The gypsy didn’t arrive for work … apparently it was a(nother) holiday. However half way into the day he did arrive with a friend in a car with a small trailer to pick up the junk metal parts he had collected on our property … which he sells to a junk-metal recycler/dealer dude. My first thought was to send him away until he finishes his work … but then realized that we were getting free garbage cleanup so we let him load most of the stuff and carry it away for us.
  • Had a mushy rest of the day … developed a slight headache.

Yesterday:

  • Gypsy did not come to work today. Seems like the metals were his primary agenda … anyways …
  • Went out earlier then usual to start working – taking advantage of the cool morning hours. Did some jigsaw cutting and then lots of sanding on all the parts of the kitchen sink cabinet. Then did a quick dry assembly … made some more cuts to the side panels (too wide) … and it’s looking really good. Just when it was assembled on the lawn … it started to rain so that halted the work again.
  • We planned our visit to the city today and went over some more food preservation plans … we need to get both jars and vegetables and get started with that project.
  • In the evening I cut and sanded and finished a few more parts of the shower stall … hopefully I will be able to make some progress with the drain-plate (surface that should drain all the water out of the shower stall) over the weekend.

Andreea and Nora have put together plans for the first Doula course in Romania – they’ve even scheduled the first one for November. Also Andreea’s home-made ointment is continuing to sell from word-t-o-mouth… great stuff 🙂

Today … heading out to Cluj to suckle a bit on the tit of industrialization 🙂