Well, not really in the kitchen so much—I’m doing lots of food stuff, but most of it is taking place outside. Like cutting and drying basil, and braiding a little garlic.

I’m starting to freeze okra and peppers. The regular bell peppers have just gotten going, after a summer of lush and gorgeous foliage, but very little fruit, but the paprika peppers have done amazingly well. We’ve yet to have one turn red, but we’ve been enjoying them green.

Inside I’m canning tomatoes today, and making yoghurt, which is pretty much the only dairy product (besides butter) that I’m making.

It’s still hot—90-ish during the day—but it’s cooling off so much at night, and the humidity is so low that it really feels like fall. It’s glorious!

Bellstars, Heinz, Sungolds and a Great White

DH picked half the tomatoes last night, which is about the only time you can be in the garden right now. I’ll try to pick the rest today, and get started canning. We have so many Sungolds—what do you do with cherry tomatoes? I’m thinking of just pureeing them, skins and all, and canning the puree in pint jars to add to soups.

Yesterday we brought in a ton of cucumbers, and I’m trying a recipe for lactic pickles, in which you slice the cucumbers (perfect in this case, as these are fairly big), toss them with salt, and then pack them in jars with pieces of horseradish root (and I used a few shredded leaves, too), garlic and hot peppers. They go in the jars dry, and make their own liquid. So far, so good—the jars are about half full of liquid—and the cucumbers taste wonderful.

Butter in my new blue bowl, with the scotch hands I use to work it.

Not much going on with dairy these days. Milk production is down because of the heat and dry weather, and the air in my kitchen is too miserably hot and

overrun with wild yeasts to make it a very good environment for cheesemaking. That’ll have to wait for cooler weather. I bought some yogurt starter this weekend and will start that today, and of course we make lots of butter.

I am in the garden a lot these days, especially when I can convince the rest of the family that they don’t really need me for all the animal chores!

We got all the tomatoes in last week—a full week earlier than last year, thanks do DH’s help hauling manure. Over the years we’ve really narrowed down our tomato varieties to those we really, really like, and that seem to do well here. Our constants are Carbon and Great White, both open pollinated, so I am able to save my own seed; and Sungold, an orange cherry tomato, which is, unfortunately, a hybrid, so I have to buy seeds for it every year. It’s worth it though—there’s never been a better flavored cherry tomato, in my humble opinion! The last few years we’ve grown Juliet canning tomatoes, and I love them—they’re seriously disease resistant, which is important here in tobacco country—and very, very productive, but they’re so small! It’s a ridiculous amount of effort to pick and can them. So this year instead of Juliets, we’re growing Bellstar and a tomato developed by Heinz years ago. Both are open pollinated, and both are determinate, so maybe I’ll get my canning done in one giant burst instead of a little at a time all summer long.