August Arrives Auspiciously

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. Well, in my last message I said August would be as busy as July and so far I am right on the money! Besides the historic tour last week we have had bake oven highlights, a pottery highlight, a visit from the bee keeper with some of his bees and Saturday was Heritage Craft Day. Heritage Craft Day is a summer event that offers a close up look at a number of the traditional craft and trade skills of the 19th century. As part of our farm museum’s mission we are tasked with preserving this kind of knowledge. There were rye straw basket and hat makers here, spinning and weaving was demonstrated, and the bobbin lace and tatting ladies shared their versions of lace making. The potter was at her wheel, there was quilling which is a paper craft and quilting as well. There was puppet making for the children, the men folk were making rope and the bake oven was busy turning out loaves of whole wheat bread. Aunt Eunice even had a chance to sit a spell and do some whittling. All in all a lovely day both entertainment and weather-wise.

I was in a discussion with a visitor and we were commiserating about the hot temperatures we had experienced in July. He said we hadn’t even gotten to August yet and the “dog days of summer”. While I didn’t correct him it caused me to double check my facts on this phrase. Some of you may already know it doesn’t refer to the weather. Here is what the good Old Farmer’s Almanac says – a well used resource for farm families in the 1800s.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the unofficial authority on all things folklore and weather-related, the phrase “dog days” refers to the hottest time of the year, which is the 40 days that span from July 3 through August 11. The Almanac explains:

August 11 coincides with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding, so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all time: “Dog Days bright and clear / indicate a happy year. / But when accompanied by rain, / for better times our hopes are vain.”

So though tomorrow is the last of the dog days for this summer I doubt we are through with the hot, humid weather! Our tomato plants seem to be loving it and we are harvesting many different varieties. One of my favorites is the Juliet, a small, plum shaped one that is firm and has a sweet flavor.
According to Bonnieplants.com – Juliet tomatoes are slightly larger than the well-known Santa grape tomato, it bears delicious, sweet fruit on indeterminate vines. Some gardeners refer to it as a mini Roma because of the shape. The wonderfully sweet fruit are crack resistant and remain in good condition on the vine longer than most cherry tomatoes. The fruit are as soft and juicy as cherry tomatoes, they hold up well in salads, even leftovers, and they have a longer shelf life so you can keep them on hand without picking every day.

Here is an old time recipe using squash and tomatoes from Quiet Valley’s bake oven cookbook. It may help you use up some of the many you will be harvesting in the month of August!

White Sauce – Ingredients & Instructions

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups half and half creamer (or whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk until combined.
  • Slowly stir in 1 cup of cream (or milk) and whisk until smooth.
  • Stir in the remaining cream, salt and pepper. Whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. This will take 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove the white sauce from the stove.

Cucumbers, squash, carrots, beets, bell peppers, kohlrabi are just some of the other vegetables that we have been harvesting. Last Thursday we pick the sweet corn. It was immediately blanched, cut off the cob and frozen. All the staff received one ear each for lunch. It was delicious and certainly couldn’t have been fresher! I hope your gardens are producing as well as our Quiet Valley kitchen garden. Otherwise remember to check out your CSA or farmer’s markets. Your local farmers will appreciate the support.

That’s all for now folks. Hopefully we will see you on the farm before summer ends. Remember to check our Calendar of Events as we are planning several moderately -sized fall events to supplement our non-profit organization’s income. Take care. Aunt Eunice

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