Before too long, the "new" soon becomes "what we do": Hot water bath canning; pressure canning; juicing; blanching; pruning fruit trees; grapevine tending; potatoes in buckets; companion herbs; roofline bean strings are among the many skills we've acquired or growing methods we've adopted and adapted.
This year, I want to perfect:
~ Salsa. We've had mixed luck with texture and flavor: Too watery, too acidic, too dense, not enough heat. For an attempted solution, we're going to try adding freshly chopped tomatoes and cilantro to roasted tomatoes, onions and sweet/hot peppers.
~ Jam. Gelling point eludes us. We've created jars of strawberry slush freezer jam; so-hard-you-need-a-chisel raspberry/currant jam; and to-die-for black raspberry/gooseberry/black currant jam. It's Goldilocks roulette. But this year, we're going to figure it out!
~ Dried herbs. We had an epiphany late in the season to use our dehydrator for herbs and had great success with parsley and basil. This, after tossing numerous stone pans' worth of sun-dried basil soup earlier in the summer after unintentionally leaving pans of nearly dried basil out in the rain. This year, we will be dehydrating machines -- drying as many of our own herbs as we can.
~ Sand storage. I vow to not miss sowing deadlines for fall root vegetables and to store a cornucopia of parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, carrots, potatoes and celeriac in boxes of sand. Of course, without a garage or easily accessed basement, I'm not sure where these boxes will go, but we will figure something out.
~ Rain barrels. Our beautiful repurposed whiskey barrels have been sitting useless since we bought them three years ago. With a fully healed right arm, I will build stone pads for them to sit on, and we will finally hook them up!
~ Bay tree and southern wood. Both herbs I'd like to add to our collection are best grown from cuttings. I don't want to let another season pass letting them slide.
So, there they are: Our goals for 2014.
All, of course, with the underlying hope that neither of us unexpectedly goes parasailing in a freak lake storm.