Hi friends, I know it’s been a while.
I had to do some behind-the-scenes admin stuff on my blog this morning, and realized that if I put up a post today then it wouldn’t be an entire month since I last posted. Talk about sneaking that in.
I wish I had the hours in the day to keep up my normal, regular blog schedule and tend to my domestic life and make applesauce and cook dinner and write a book, and but it’s hard to find the time. Story of all our lives – I know you guys understand.
September started out with a rather massive outdoor push to get ready for a visit from my good friend Theresa Loe. Theresa is the co-executive producer of the TV Show Growing A Greener World, and she brought her friends Joe Lamp’l, Carl Pennington and Chris Aelker with her. And all together (but mostly them) we filmed a TV Show.
Here’s what I learned about TV: there is a huge amount of work that goes into making a show that no one ever sees. Before the crew even showed up at my house, there were weeks of storyline and script development and phone interviews. Think: massive, multi-week research project for every episode. And then, once on location, getting action caught on film takes a long time. Things like poor light and background noise from an airplane 2,000 feet away can derail an entire take – and they do actually call them takes!
The whole family got to participate. Oliver showed everyone where all the fruit was, and thought Carl and Chris were superheroes because they had these huge, super-cool, geared-up cameras. Bella was interviewed about her chicken keeping duties and she and I got to faux “clean out the coop” for demonstration purposes.
I was totally cool and nonchalant about the whole thing because I adore Theresa and trust she’d never make me look like an idiot, until Joe said, “Oh we reach a million people a week,” in passing and the difference in reach between new media (like my blog) and old media (like a weekly TV show) sort of hit me like a cartoon piano.
And then this kind of internal dialog started: “A million people a week. Two million eyeballs that will witness me make a gigantic ass out of myself.”
But I’m happy to say I don’t think I made a gigantic ass of myself. It was a bit like dancing with a really great partner – you just follow along and everything seems to be okay. And working with the Growing a Greener World crew was a bit like having an after-dinner dance with a world champion tango master. If I look alright on TV, it will be because I followed their professional lead.
One of the big topics we covered was duck-keeping, and how it’s a bit different than chicken keeping. Working with animals is goofy. Hat tip to my friend (and friend of the show) Robin Haglund who kept the ducks more or less in the pond through careful arm waving just off camera.
When all was over, we all sat back and enjoyed a well-earned cocktail or three.
The episode I’m in will also feature my friend and fellow homesteading mama Jessi Bloom. It should air sometime in December – I’ll keep you posted as I know more.
As soon as the Growing A Greener World shoot was over, I had to seriously refocus on this book manuscript I’m working on. Oh, yeah right….the book. It’s due December 1st. As it turns out (no surprise to regular readers here) putting a lot of words down on paper isn’t really a problem for me – it’s making sure they are the right words that’s the challenge.
In fact, with just a few months to go until delivery-date, my publisher and I had to completely re-work the entire structure and table of contents of the book to deal with my verbosity. That’s a bit like starting to build a house, getting everything framed and sheathed and starting to do stuff like plumbing and electrical, and then deciding the walls are all in the wrong place and ripping them down. So we proverbially ripped down all the walls of my book and I started re-building.
Spoiler alert: I’m still gonna be over word count. Hah!
On the homestead front, nature continues to hurl her bounty at me with slutty abandon. I harvested seven very respectable size watermelon yesterday, along with three Romanesco broccoli, a handful of other broccoli, and about 5 pounds of chard. Peppers need picking and the last of the tomatoes – both green and red – need to come in for processing or slow ripening.
Apples and pears have eaten my counters. A productive friend came over, looked at the Golden Sentinel apples that were falling from my tree of their own accord, sighed, then harvested the entire tree for me and ran about 40 pounds of those apples through one of those peeler-slicer things while watching my son. Community, man. Being an anti-social curmudgeon is all well and good until you realize how helpful good community can be.
After the Golden Sentinel was crisped, pie-filling’ed and sauced, I dealt with 80 pounds of pears and about 100 more pounds of apples. That was last week. We have more frozen apple pie filling than I know what do with now. I’m gonna be like Oprah this winter: “You Get Pie! And You Get Pie! Everybody Gets A Pie!”
The other fall crops are just coming into their own. I’m doing a lot of wandering around the garden and sighing, trying to figure out how to quickly and easily preserve what we can’t eat. (Pro Tip: Lacto-fermentation for the win!)
Although I’m trying to work as seasonally as possible in my recipe testing for the book and use as much of my own produce as possible, the fridge is stuffed with ingredients (mostly store bought) right now that leave precious little room for the homegrown. Whatever I can’t use in testing immediately has to be put up or it ends up getting fed to the chickens.
It’s a weird feeling to have a menu plan that isn’t dominated by what I’m harvesting. What we eat is based on what I’m testing. Sometimes that means roasted chicken over and over and over.
If you get the sense that my life is dominated by the writing of this book right now, you are correct. I desperately miss writing here, in my own space, and the feeling of writing to a like-minded community. But my writing mojo is just blown at the end of the day, writing this stuff that I’m contractually obligated to write. Writing books is far lonelier than blogging.
So really, that’s it guys. I just wanted to let you know what’s been happening around here, and reassure folks that I’m not dead (I’ve had inquiries – thank you for your concern!) and that I’ve not abandoned the blog in any kind of permanent way.
I hope in a year or so, when there’s a book to show for this, we will all think the time and effort was worth it. On that note, huge thank you to my amazing Book Helper Recipe Test Team. You guys are incredible. You’ll be getting another batch of fall recipes today or tomorrow. If anyone else wants to join the Book Helper email list to get behind-the-scenes book updates and have the opportunity to test and critique recipes, you can learn more about that here.
I look forward to a return to blog normalcy. I miss you guys!0
Thanks for the update. Keep up the good work. I know from the state of my own counters and lack of cupboard and freezer space, I’d hate to be shooting TV and/or writing a book on top of it all this time of year. However, I would love to take a roasted chicken or two off your hands. Wish we lived closer.
I just ordered a golden watermelon variety to try next year from High Mowing Seeds. What variety worked for you? Our summers just don’t get very hot here on the North Coast of California and the variety I tried in the greenhouse this summer came out good (but only handball-sized!).
Tom @ Raise Your Garden says
Yes, keep up the good work but we need a new post! Where do you go?!? It’s kind of like where’s Waldo………
Glad you posted an update! I miss your blog posts but the book will be awesome and totally worth the effort. Also, thanks for the behind the scenes look at “Growing a Greener World”. That show is wonderful! It’ll be fun to see your garden through the TV lens. Enjoy the typing but watch out for carpal tunnel syndrome. Take care!
Theresa Loe says
Wait…you trusted ME to make you look good?? Well…that was your first mistake.
We are editing as we speak (write) and as I promised you before – I’ve got your back. But the truth is, there is no need. You nailed it! You look fabulous and editing is going smoothly. Only like 52 more hours to go…Ha!
Thanks for letting us invade your space. The Lemon Loe cocktail was fantastic.
You are probably the busiest lady I know of! I can’t way to see this episode. While I do miss more frequent posts here, I’m glad that I follow you on FB and get to hear from you pretty regularly there.
When you have 10 minutes, please post the canning recipe you use for your apple pie filling. I’m chomping at the bit to do this soon in preparation of the holiday season….I want to be able to “quickly” throw together my apple pies when I’m usually too busy to bother (and I’m sorry, but I really don’t care for the Costco apple pies that everyone raves about). It seems like all the recipes I find call for this “Clear Jel” ingredient. What the heck is that? Is it really necessary. Its not what I would normally put in my pie filling. I’m tempted to just can my sliced apples in a light syrup and then open that and add what I need for my usual pie filling when the time comes….at least the apples would all be sliced and ready to go.
Can’t wait for your book! Not sure if I’m a good enough cook to add myself to your “testers” list…I wouldn’t know if it was the recipe or me that went awry (of course I’d have a suspicion).
Theresa Loe says
Clear Jel is used as a thickener (just like arrowroot or tapioca or flour in a normal pie filling recipe). The reason canned pie filling calls for clear jel is because normal thickeners (like the ones I just mentioned) will separate during the canning process and you end up with a lumpy mess inside of the jar instead of a nice, evenly thick apple filling.
But here’s the thing – You don’t have to add ANY thickener to a canned pie filling. You can use the recipe as is and omit the clear jel all together. Then later when you open the jar, you can add the normal thickener of your choice.
I do it all the time and I have acres of apples that I have practiced on.
So if you find a canned pie filling you like, omit the clear jel and mark on the jar that you should add the thickener when you make the pie. Yum!
Thank you Theresa! I’ll give it a try.
So good to know! I wanted to try canning some pie filling but didn’t want to junk it up with that stuff. Theresa, if you don’t mind, do you have an apple pie filling recipe you’d share? And what you use to thicken it when you do use it and the amount? Is it available on your blog? Thanks!!
Theresa Loe says
Here is a post I did on my other canning blog for Growing A Greener World TV on canning Apple Pie Filling:
If I omit the Clear Jel, I will usually add about 2 Tbsp. of flour as my thickener. But everyone has their own favorites when it comes to pie.
I bet Erica has a special way of thickening her pies.
Thanks for the response! I didn’t want to put anything more on her ‘pie plate’ while she’s so busy.
Not being much of a TV watcher, I’d love to know where to go to watch the show – channel and time, pleeeeease.
Theresa Loe says
Erica’s episode will start airing nationally on PBS the first week of December. Each station is independent and so airs to their own schedule. Some will air that week, others air some time after that.
For this reason, we always post all our episodes (the whole show in HD) on our website the day after the release date.
So this means that once it airs, you can go to our website to watch Erica and rewind to watch her over and over again!
I’m sure she will post here when the show goes live, but the website is:
Can I just add that you fed us an amazing spread while we were on site for the shoot? Holy moly…I can’t stop thinking about, nay dreaming about & drooling over, those amazing nectarines. And, that apricot jam you sent home. I did try it on a roasted chicken with some dijon as you suggested; it was pretty good, but I’m saving the other half to try on pork. I think it’ll be particularly great on pig!
If you need more stuff harvested and stashed in a less-full-fridge, gimme a shout. I know where you live ;).
Kudos! You were fantastic while I was there…can’t wait to see you on TV. Tell Oliver I miss his blushing chubby cheeks…wait, don’t tell him that. He might not like me anymore if you do. 🙂
Tommy Thombs says
Yes, I’ve missed your online presence; but understand that you’ve got little precious time to get everything done. Thank you for the update to assure you’re OK, albeit busy. Please take time to take care of you as you keep on keeping on. 😀
Megan Cain - The Creative Vegetable Gardener says
Congrats on your Growing a Greener World debut. That’s a fun show! Anyone who has ever worked on a large project will understand how all consuming it is. We’ll be here waiting for you when you get back!
Isis- Little Mountain Haven says
Congrats on a being in Growing a Greener World ! It’s so nice when you’re a part of inspiring tv!
I’m super excited for your book too, although sorry to hear there’s been some re-framing needed.
I’ve been wondering where you’ve been too but I also was sporadic with blogging this summer but on the account of lake and mountain weekend adventures with the kids 🙂
Romanesco question! (gorgeous btw) Does it have less of a tendency to bolt than broccoli? I’ve had a heck of a time trying to grow broccoli here and get the timing right, but we get hot springs and even fall heat waves which makes so many things bolt (spinach! sheds a tear). You might not have a bolting issue living on the coast, but I wondered all the same if you knew.
Best of luck with the writing flow!
Kate Rogers says
Great, newsy wrap-up! I’ve heard Lamp’l is a great guy, too. Eager to see that book when the time comes! Kate
Kate @ Short & Sweets says
I want a pie!
thanks for the fun behind-the-scenes look!
Franni H. says
You are incredible! You write, garden, cook……..Mom and all. Absolutely my hero!
Sounds like someone’s husband needs to build a cider press…
Oh, this will be so cool!! You and Jessi both will be amazing! I’m having fun recipe testing (olive oil cake this weekend, yum!) and Jessi and crew are whipping my yard into shape. I feel like I get a two for one deal with this episode. Definitely post when it airs!
Hi Erica! Glad you are well and still with us 🙂 I have to ask, because I have a baby Golden Sentinel at home, what are the apples like? I also have a Scarlet Sentinel if you have any info on that apple. I haven’t had any apples yet, but hopefully next year. They live in pots on my deck as they are collumnar type trees – any advice on overwintering them? I have a green house they could live in, but would it get cold enough here in Tacoma that I would need to do that? Thanks! Kat
Wow! Thanks for introducing me to this show. I switched off the television years ago, didn’t even know such a nice show existed. Now, if we could just get them to do something about permaculture. . . Mark Shepard in Viroqua, WI, maybe? Geoff Lawton’s videos are so cool, I wish THEY could get out to a million people. Especially the recent one on the amazing oasis in the Sonoran Desert near Tuscon, created by a WPA project in the Great Depression and basically left alone since then. Why don’t we have similar projects all over the place??
Theresa Loe says
We are glad to have you as a new viewer! We have done shows about permaculture. Episode # 321 (I’ll link below) and Jessi Bloom who is in this show with Erica is also a permaculturist. Jessi’s new permaculture book is coming out in a few months. We have several more places in our “bucket list” for future episodes. Stay tuned.
Oh, tall sister, I know that pose well. Mind you, you make it look good.
Enjoy the cocktails and I hope the recipe testing doesn’t get you too down. 🙂
I Wilkerson says
Perhaps you are beyond the “too much chicken” phase, but whenever I can’t get through my leftovers, I toss them into curry (lots of leftover (or not) veggies, coconut milk, curry, and leftover meat), then freeze the curry for (other) busy days.
Good luck with all the work. By late fall I can’t wait for the first frost (and I’m not writing a book…)
Great article! I wish you a lot of luck with this show! I think that the idea of this show itself is incredible! Keep going!
I just was cleaning my email box & realized I haven’t heard from you since October. Now I know why. How’s the book coming? & the TV show? & the podcasts? & the GARDEN? lol Wishing you well! Miss you 😉 <3
Naomi G. says
I had the same thought as “Heart.”
I was putting away mason jars this morning when I thought of your blog. I realized that I hadn’t seen anything new come across my feed from you in a while. I hope the book writing is going well. It must be a long journey to dig deep and edit down all of the homesteading work that you do. I can’t wait to read it!
Jennifer G says
Loved the episode! It’s so enjoyable to see how other people grow and farm their own things. We have your own version of that here at our house. But I envy yours! Great, great job. You didn’t look like an ass whatsoever. ;). Kudos to the folks that make the show. Kudos to you.
Watched your episode on “Growing a Greener World”, Congrats! Great to see your family & garden after all these years, lovely show & well produced, good choice for your debut. Best wishes on the book. Looking forward to ‘more to come’. (lol, missing your posts) Take care!
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