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Thursday, October 21, 2021

My Week -- Glorious Autumn

It's been a mostly beautiful autumn week, with a few warm and sunny days for talking long walks to see all of the gorgeous leaf colors. On one walk, I came across these remarkable mushrooms. I had no idea brightly-colored mushrooms existed in real life. Many of the yards in my neighborhood are littered with wild mushrooms/toadstools this year due to our very wet late September and early October.


So, last Friday, I did make the pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. And then on Saturday, my two daughters helped frost and put candy corn eyes and noses on each. My frugality sometimes intersects with my sense of humor. As I was making the frosting, I teased my daughters that I was planning to make a pastel orange icing, you know, to save on food coloring because I'm cheap. My daughters joined the joking around and suggested we just put a thin scraping of icing on each cookie, so thin that some cookie crumbs come off the cookies and onto the knife. As you may have guessed, the icing was neither pastel nor thin on the cookies. It was a fun afternoon in the kitchen with my girls.

Also on Saturday, both daughters helped me pick all of the crabapples. This was a poor year for crabapples. Perhaps the blossoms were badly timed with wet weather and bees couldn't pollinate. That happens.  Anyway, we got all but the requisite few left for critters. (I always leave a couple of pieces of fruit on our trees for critters so they're not too disappointed when they come along later.) I simmered the crabapples in water to extract the juice while we decorated cookies. The kitchen-y smells were definitely autumnal.

Our crabapples are not only tart, but astringent. I've tried a variety of ways to use them. Mostly, I make jelly and that's always appreciated. This year, because there were so few on the tree, the yield of juice was only about enough for 3 or 4 small jars of jelly. Instead of making jelly, I decided to save this juice for adding to commercial apple juice to make a hot cider. 


On Monday, I finally got around to making the spiced cider in my crockpot. In addition to commercial apple juice and a couple of cups of the crabapple juice, I added lots of cinnamon, cloves, and some of the spiced heavy syrup from canning green figs. (Another use for this heavy syrup -- bonus!) The hot spiced cider was a hit with my family. I froze the last pint of crabapple juice to make spiced cider another time this fall.

We had a bit of orange frosting leftover from the cookies just sitting on the counter for a few days while I pondered how to use this up. In the meantime, it hardened to a crust on the inside of the bowl. By Wednesday, I knew I either had to use it or wash the bowl. I was baking a pumpkin pie for that night's dessert and thought, "why not." I soaked the inside of the bowl with the milk I'd planned on adding to the pumpkin filling until the frosting was soft enough to dissolve into the milk. I then mixed this sweetened milk into the filling, cutting back on the sugar called for in the recipe. I saved a bit of sugar and didn't waste the frosting. And, yes, the pie was delicious. 

In the garden

Over the weekend, I collected dill and lettuce seeds this week. Some of the dill seeds will be for planting and some will be for cooking. On Thursday, I picked and dehydrated the final batch of oregano, sage, and rosemary for the year.

With the crabapples and figs now harvested, I just have the 2 green pumpkins and 1 winter squash, some carrots, beets, turnips, and lots of greens left in the garden. I check on my pumpkins daily. The weather next week looks like it will turn cold enough to warrant picking them before Thursday. They may or may not ripen indoors. We'll see.

In a normal year, after harvesting the crabapples, I would move on to picking cranberries. However, this year, there are no cranberries at all. The spot where I once picked 3 quarts of cranberries has grown too shady. Last spring, I took a cutting off a cranberry vine and rooted it. This plant will go under and around the blueberry bushes once I top off that soil later this fall. 

Back when I was harvesting the last of the tomatoes, I noticed one of the plants still looked surprisingly healthy. Being a curious person who likes to experiment, I cut off the last 10 inches of a branch and plunked it into a jar of water. This branch has now rooted in the water. I plan to pot this cutting in soil and see what happens. I imagine it won't survive very long without long, warm natural light. I may put it under the lights which are currently dedicated for the radish greens. Gardening experiments are always fun and cheap entertainment.

Indoor gardening


I keep one jar of lentil sprouts in the just-started stage and another jar in the ready-to-eat stage at all times. We've all taken to making Cole slaw with both cabbage and lentil sprouts to have with our lunches. A fresh batch of sprouts takes about 5 days from initial soak to full-grown. So, I'd say sprouts are a very quick produce item to grow at home.

My radish greens continue to grow well under the lights. The longest leaves are about 3 inches right now. I think my most mature batch will be ready in another 2 or 3 weeks. After we enjoy the radish greens, I'll try some spinach under lights.

Free internet shows

I found 2 more historical farm shows that are interesting -- Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm. The cast and format for both shows are the same as for Wartime Farm. These historical shows are not only interesting, but they've expanded my view of what domestic hardship entailed in the past as well as provided a helpful tip or two. I can also appreciate the simpler values of times in the past. If you had food, weather-appropriate clothing and shelter, there was little more one could want. If the Farm series shows sound like they'd interest you, I've found episodes for free on YouTube, TubiTV, and Daily Motion. 

Our beautiful autumn weather is giving way to cold rains in the next day or two. The weekend looks to be very rainy. Should be a good time to check out more episodes of Victorian Farm.

What were the highlights of your week? Have you ever seen colorful wild mushrooms/toadstools before? I think these ones are poisonous, but they sure are fun to look at.


Cheap & Cheerful Meals for a cozy week in this post.


12 comments:

  1. While I have seen red mushroom, I don't think I've seen any that bright before. How pretty!

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    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Until last week, I'd never seen a mushroom any color other than tan/brown. So, this was such a surprise! I hope this batch sent spores out for more of the red ones.

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  2. I've never seen a colored mushroom but we have some big ones outside right now. We've had a bit of rain lately so the mushrooms are huge. It's very much fall outside here in Michigan and it's quite cold especially at night. No furnace on yet and most windows are closed except a couple are cracked open for those who want a little fresh air. Most trees still had their leaves on early this week but yesterday I noticed the breeze had picked up and the leaves are falling fast. We haven't cleared leaves yet but that will come soon. It's quite late this year.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alice,
      I've seen a couple of the super big saucer-shaped mushrooms around my neighborhood, too. My tiny squirrel friend likes to eat the tan and brown ones. I'm glad he's finding something to eat that won't bother anyone (like when he ate all the tulip bulbs in the yard.)

      We've had the furnace on for several hours each day for almost a month. It's felt chillier than normal here for most of October. About half of the deciduous trees have lost their leaves in my yard. Some of the trees with leaves still are brilliant in color, like the dogwoods. Yep, we'll be raking soon too.

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  3. Funny you should mention mushrooms because the girls and I went to Spokane this week. My younger DD’s dog had an appointment with an eye specialist. One of the stops we made was a farmers market. It was raining, and not a very big market, but one of the stands had wild mushrooms galore. She bought at least two varieties, one being lobster mushrooms. She’s ordered dried before but never had fresh. I had never seen so many mushrooms. I didn’t buy any, but it was fun to look. All I bought that day was a very large zucchini and a pretty little greenish grey pumpkin, plus a loaf of sourdough bread for the girls to split. I don’t care for sourdough but the man was so proud of his breads and went into great detail telling us about his starter etc, so I had to buy one from him. At $10 a loaf it wasn’t a frugal purchase, but the loaf was beautiful and I don’t regret the purchase.

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    1. Hi Diane,
      That was so nice of you to buy a loaf of bread from the baker at the farmer's market! Spending more than you would in a regular store is so worth it to know you helped support an independent merchant. I try to do the same when I find opportunities. I bet your daughter enjoyed the mushroom stand. I would love to see something like that.

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    2. My oldest dd told me the bread is really good, and doesn’t have the sourness of traditional sourdough. I said the guy told me it didn’t when I told him I didn’t care for sourdough bread. We went with a loaf that was made with red wheat berries (I think). He was an interesting old guy to talk to, as was the mushroom guy. It was nice that it wasn’t busy because we got a chance to talk to the vendors. A couple even gave deals to the girls. One lady sold dd all the kale she had for $4 because dd was so excited about trying purple kale. Another guy gave my oldest an extra ear of sweet corn because she came out in the rain lol. I wish we had farmers markets like that one. Nice vendors and nice produce at good prices.I don’t even bother going to ours unless I specifically need something, and then I do so knowing it’s going to be very expensive.

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    3. It sounds like you all had such a nice time, Diane.

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  4. I just remembered that a neighbor I used to have grew tomatoes in the house all winter. She had them sitting in front of her sliding glass doors in her dining room. It was south facing but she had a lot of trees. She used to pick cherry tomatoes off those most of the winter.

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    Replies
    1. Hi again, Diane,
      Thanks for mentioning this about your neighbor. After reading your comment, I potted up my tomato cutting and have it in a south-facing window. I'll see how it does.

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  5. My daughter laughs at my fascination with mushrooms so I'm glad others find them interesting. Makes me feel sort of normal, hahaha. Your photo makes it look like something in a little fairy garden display. Last summer while hiking in West Virginia, we saw many bright orange mushrooms and I've seen a few that are similar to your red polkadot one lately. I have a friend who finds ones that grow on trees at a local college that are edible so she's been harvesting them. She says she hasn't died yet! I'm not brave enough to eat them although my dad collected and ate morels. Morel hunting is a big thing in Michigan in the spring.

    We have watched the first couple of episodes of Edwardian Farm and have enjoyed it. Life has been busier lately so we don't have a lot of time to watch more episodes.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      Orange mushrooms! I haven't seen any like that, yet. I'm with you on the hesitancy about eating wild mushrooms. I love the idea, but I'm not willing to trust my own knowledge.

      I enjoyed Edwardian Farm quite a bit. The cast that does these shows are such likable people and the information is really interesting. I hope you get some time soon to watch more episodes. I watched a Christmas special for Victorian Farm over the weekend. Now my head is getting prepared for the holidays.

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