Archive for the ‘pickles’ Tag

08/12/021 Harvest Time   2 comments

Needless to say we here in New England love the Fall. It’s harvest time for most crops but especially cucumbers which we wait for all year. This is pickle season for those of us who love hot pickles. I don’t mean just spicy hot, I mean hot enough to make your head sweat. My better half and I make pickles every year at this time because the demand for them is high with friends and family. Our time yesterday was spent making 15 pints of hot Bread & Butter pickles and 9 additional pints of smoking hot dill pickles. These pickles are made with our family recipes but we add the additional heat. We add a mixture of sliced jalapenos, serranoes, and my all time favorite, habaneros. Here’s how we get started.

Our preparation actually starts the night before with the slicing of many cucumbers. My better half usually handles that chore because she cuts a much more uniform slice than I do. She also handles slicing the hot peppers because in past years I’ve almost blinded myself by putting my bare hands near my eyes after forgetting to wear gloves.

First we get our lids, rims, and jars sterilized in boiling water. Then we mix a concoction of herbs and spices to make what we call the syrup that will do the actual pickling. We also add three large bottles of jalapeno vinegar which I made earlier this Spring. Just a friendly tip if you’re going to make hot pickles . . . wear thick rubber gloves. Not those flimsy latex gloves because the oils from the hot peppers migrate right through the latex. Once it gets on your bare hands you’re in trouble.

It’s really not a difficult process once you’ve done it a few times. We completed this entire job in 2 hours minus the preparation done the previous day. When you have a good product people want it which is why we have a long list of folks waiting for these pickles. In a normal year we’ll process 35 to 40 pints of a variety of pickles. Then we can get started with our hot pasta sauces, BBQ sauce, salsa, chili, and wing sauces.

It really is a lot of fun and will keep our family and friends well supplied until Spring. You should give it a try.

07-23-2016 Bread & Butter Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Today begins my summer chore of making the first batch of Hot Bread & Butter Pickles.  Over the course of each Summer I normally can at least four batches of pickles. Each batch is usually 14-15 pints and I make both Dill and B&B versions.  All of my pickles are Hot which means slices of jalapeno and red pepper in each jar as well as a shot of ground habanero for good luck. Today I’ll walk you through the process but without giving up my secret pickling mix recipe.

The first thing this morning I prepared the jars and canning supplies by sanitizing them with boiling water.

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Once the jars, lids, and rims are boiled I then wash the cucumbers thoroughly.

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They are then sliced along with the red pepper and jalapenos. All are set aside until I’m ready to fill the jars.

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I  return to the stove to prepare the B&B syrup. It consists of my secret spice mix, 7 cups of sugar, and 7 cups of distilled white vinegar.

 

Packing the jars is my least favorite part of the process but still very important.  The jars are carefully packed, the syrup added, and the lids and rims tightened down. The jars then take a boiling hot water bath for a full fifteen minutes.

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Getting the first batch of the season completed is always a good feeling. Here’s the finished product . . . 15 pints of very hot and sweet pickles. They’ll be ready for eating after they sit for a few months to absorb all of the flavors.

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MORE TO FOLLOW

06-29-2016 Festivals & Farmer’s Markets!   Leave a comment

Is it just me or has June zoomed by in a flash. I’ve always considered the Fourth of July as the summer’s half-way point but I can’t believe that half of the summer is already gone. That is supremely depressing. A few days ago I mentioned in a post that my better-half and I had visited the Brunswick, Maine Strawberry Festival.  I sort of glossed over that visit for some reason but after rethinking things I decided to throw a few pictures your way. Check these out.

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The town of Brunswick is rather quaint and the park located in the downtown area is just beautiful.  The perfect place to take your kids on a sunny day, to quietly read a book or to walk your dog.

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It’s called the Strawberry Festival but it’s much more than that as you can see. Farmers from all over the area come to town loaded with fresh vegetables of all types.  It’s a giant farmers market and they offer some really delicious foods as well.

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I’m a former cheese addict who has been forced over the years to reduce the amount of dairy I eat.  It still won’t stop me from sampling a few tidbits of excellent goat cheese when I happen upon it.

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Many of the farms also sell canned pickles, jams, and jellies. They are a bit pricy but you’ll never find any fresher or as flavorful in a supermarket.

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I was more than a little surprised at all of the available vegetables this early in the summer.  We look forward to visiting many more of these festivals in the coming months. There seems to be one scheduled every weekend somewhere in Maine until Labor Day.

A GREAT START TO OUR SUMMER

07-27-2015 Journal–Dill Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Every summer about this time I donate one day of my time to the making of dill pickles.  I’ve loved dill pickles for most of my life and if I do say so myself, I make one helluva pickle.  Mine are a bit different from the store-bought variety since I pickle the cucumbers in a dill brine accompanied by a selection of sliced habanero’s and jalapeno’s.  The results have the best dill flavor I can supply with enough heat to make your head sweat. 

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My better-half isn’t a big fan of the dill flavor so I’m relegated to making one small batch each summer that will usually last me most of the winter.  I have a couple of other people in the area who are also big fans of dill and I make enough to keep them supplied as well.

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The process begins with a 48 hour bath for the cucumbers in lime water.  This will help keep the pickle slices crisp after the canning process has been completed.  While the cukes are soaking I slice up a sufficient amount of habaneros and jalapenos to add to the mix.  I was able to pick up a package of fresh dill yesterday and I’ll place a small sprig in the top of each jar. It’s mostly for decoration purposes but in addition to that I also add dried dill to the brine.

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After the cucumber  slicing, dicing, and jar  packing, the final product is covered with dill brine and capped. Then into a boiling water bath to help seal the jars and to precook the pickles.  Then it’s on to the cooling rack for a few hours and here’s the finished product.

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Thirteen pints of some truly hot and tasty dill pickles.  Good for any occasion or you can just sit and eat a jar while watching a movie.  If possible and if we have a good supply of cucumbers I may make a second batch of Kosher Dill pickles later this fall. It’s a totally different flavor of dill and I love it as much as these.

* * *  NEWS FLASH * * *

Today is a big day for us.  Today is our Independence Day from cable TV.  All of the companies equipment has been removed and will be shipped back in a few days.  The account was closed after the typical games these companies insist on playing.  They offered me a 50% reduction in my monthly rate if I would reconsider and stay with them.  I asked only one question. If they could afford to do that so easily now it must mean they’ve been overcharging me for years.  We agreed to disagree and that was that.  Good-bye, Good Luck, and get the hell out Dish Network.

* * * HOORAY FOR US * * *

07-07-205 Journal–Moving on to Summer!   Leave a comment

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‘Don’t look at this image, it might be against the law here in Maine.’

With the holiday weekend coming to an end summer has officially been declared here in Maine.  Even with that being said we still sat on the deck over the weekend in hoodies and sweatpants because it was a wee bit nippy. So it’s onward and upward to the many summer activities soon to come.

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‘Hot Bread & Butter Pickles’

We had a stay-at-home Fourth of July this year which we both found rather enjoyable. We relaxed on the deck until dark and then decided to be outlaws and lawbreakers.  For decades it was against the law in Maine to own or use fireworks. Two years ago the ban was lifted and fireworks stores sprung up overnight and everyone happily thought their future holidays could be celebrated with a little noise. Oh how wrong we were.

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‘Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Rhubarb, and Triple Berry Jams’

It’s impossible for politicians, local or otherwise,  to keep their collective noses out of everyone’s business for more than a heartbeat.  The town politicos then began to play their silly little games by passing local ordnance to ban the use of fireworks once again. It’s just like a bunch of political morons on a power trip to pass another law that can’t be enforced.

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‘Smoking Hot Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa’

As dark ascended on the neighborhood the law breaking began in earnest.  It sounded like the first night of D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy.  Every neighbor was trying to out do the others and being the weak minded idiots that we are, we joined right in. Sparklers, Zippers, Rockets, Roman Candles . . . you name it and we had it.  All of that noise and law breaking going on and not one police car was ever seen.  They were probably sitting at home in their driveway while their kids set off their own fireworks.  It was a lot of fun, no injuries or deaths reported, and the cleanup the next day was only about twenty minutes.

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‘Honey & Maple Mead’

The remainder of the weekend we were kept very busy.  B & B pickles were made and canned, an assortment of jams were made and canned, and I finished my first batch of salsa for 2015. It yielded thirteen and a half quarts of a salsa that’ll make your head sweat.

We are definitely on a roll for 2015.

09-03-2014 Journal Entry – 2014 Garden Results   Leave a comment

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Today’s my day to brag a little.  We finished the last of the canning yesterday which means that within the next three weeks I’ll begin to close down the garden for this year.  I have to say it’s been a great gardening summer with more enough rain to keep the plants happy and a level of production at least 30% better than last year.  This first list is the approximate amounts of veggies we harvested over the last three months.

  • 10 – pounds of cherry tomatoes
  •   6 – pounds of jalapeños
  •   2 -pounds of cayenne peppers
  •   6 – pounds of snap peas
  •   4 – pounds of black beans
  • 30 – pounds of zucchini
  •   2 – pounds of kohlrabies
  • 50 – pounds of cucumbers
  • 4 – pounds of Beets
  • 5 – pounds of radishes
  • Two additional plantings of lettuce.
  • Two additional plantings of snap peas.
  • One additional planting of radishes

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We then took most of them and processed them into the following list of usable foods for the winter months.

  • 10 – pints of hot mustard dill pickles
  • 15 – pints of pickled zucchini
  • 12 – pints of pickled jalapeños
  •   8 – pints of pickled veggie mix
  • 24 – pints of hot B&B pickles
  •   1 – pint of pickled jalapeño/habaneros
  • 13 – quarts of roasted corn/black bean salsa
  •   9 – half pints of radish relish
  • 18 – large loaves of zucchini bread
  •   5 – quarts of pickled kimchi
  • 12 – quarts of chili for freezing
  • 4 – pounds of kale, frozen

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This last list are the herbs I harvested during the Summer to help refill our stocks for winter.  We use a great deal of them in every meal we make and we also supply to to family and friends when requested.  They’re extremely easy to grow and dry and taste great.

  •   1 – quart jar of dried oregano
  •   1 – quart jar of dried parsley
  •   1 – pint jar of dried habaneros
  •   2 – quarts of dried chives
  •   1 – quart of dried garlic chives
  •   1 – pint jar of dried jalapeños
  •   2 – quarts of dried kale
  •   9 – pounds of dried sunflower seeds
  •   1 – quart of dried Cilantro
  •   1 – quart of dried Basil

All of this was from a 350 square foot garden.

Gardening is not as easy as most people think but the rewards make it well worth the effort.  My better-half and I really want to know what we’re putting into our bodies. While it’s almost impossible to do that 100% these days, it gives us a little more peace of mind than the average person.  Along with gardening we’ve become two of the biggest pain-in-the-butt label readers anywhere.  It’s something everyone should learn to do because it’s enlightening and at times a little scary.

The better-half has a few batches of jam to prepare in the next few weeks but there’s no rush.  All the necessary berries are in the freezer and can be used at any time. I always look forward to the blackberry jam made from the berries we picked, there’s nothing better. 

 

08-02-2014 Journal Entry – Festive Festivities!   Leave a comment

I’ve been so busy of late I decided to take today off.  My only task this morning was to can another ten jars of Bread & Butter pickles.  The garden is producing ridiculous numbers of cucumbers, zucchini’s, and beans, making it a little difficult to keep up. 

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‘After’

I really hope to get a little reading done over the next few days. Last weekend we visited a local fair at St. Matthews church in Limerick, ME. This is an event that we try never to miss. It’s a three day event and draws quite a crowd from southern Maine. It consists of a huge flea market where you can still find a treasure or two for a very low price.  Over the years I’ve found quite a few jewels and this year was no different.  I found two stainless steel stock pots in like new condition without a mark on then for $15.00. If I tried to buy them at a retail store it would have been more like $50.00.

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There were crowds of people everywhere but as always the biggest crowd was in the book tent.  Tens of thousands of books, sorted on tables, and being rummaged through by hundreds of people.  I normally am able to buy enough books to keep me reading for most of the Winter for less than $20.00. It’s hardback books for a buck and paperbacks for $.50 each.  I bought so many I had two make two trips to the car to unload the bag.  I may be a big fan of the Ereader’s but at these prices I’ll take a step back to reading actual books anytime.  I still like the feel of the book in my hands and turning each page manually.  An Ereader is more convenient to be sure but old habits are hard to break.

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‘My Winter Stash’

Another thing I look forward to are the french fries.  I’ve been on a no-carb diet for almost a year but there are certain occasions that demand that I eat some greasy, salty, and crunchy fries.  I pigged out and with the help of my better-half, her daughter and her husband, and the grandson, we totally destroyed a giant box of fries along with half a bottle of ketchup.  It was sinfully delicious.

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The grandson who is just now starting to speak spent most of his time near the tent where they sell used children’s toys.  He was drawn to a hot looking plastic Camaro with flashing red lights and shiny decals.  That should keep him occupied for a week or so making it an excellent investment.

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They offer some minor gambling with a chuck-a-luck wheel, a greenhouse selling plants, and a host of other food booths.  The odd clown or two doing face painting for the kids and a huge barbecue cooking area loaded with roasting beef and chicken.  The aroma is almost overwhelming.  I like all of it except for those clowns that always seem to roaming around the grounds and showing up right next to me. After all these years they still creep me out.

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‘Yikes!’

The better-half, the daughter, and the grandson are leaving on a road trip tomorrow heading south to Delaware and then on to Ocean City, Maryland. They’ll be meeting up some of her family members for a few beach days and a night or two on the Boardwalk. I guess I can expect another silly baseball hat and T-shirt to add to my collection. That also means a week off from everything on my better-half’s Honey-Do list.  I’ll be able to read a few books, relax on the deck with the cat, and clear my head a little. 

It should be a good week for us all.

07-27-2014 Journal Entry – Harvest Time Begins!   Leave a comment

I know it’s a little early in the year but with the garden filling up with cucumbers it was time to get busy.  Last night I gathered all of the equipment together in preparation for canning.  I cleaned jars, gathered lids and rings, pots and pans, and updated my experimental pickle recipe. We normally make hot Bread & Butter pickles and a lot of them.  I’ve made dill pickles in the past but never was really happy with the results. My approach to things has always been to identify a problem and then fix it and this new recipe for Hot Mustard Dill Pickles is the fix.

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I took my normal kosher dill recipe and jacked it up with a number of additional ingredients and spices. The end result will be pickles that are extremely hot, canned in a liquid containing dry mustard, curry, habanero powder, and a handful of other minor ingredients.  I soaked the cukes in canning Lime overnight which should help keep them crispy once their canned.

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Yesterday afternoon we picked the cucumbers, zucchini’s, and jalapeño’s from the garden along with some herbs.  I’d be making my mustard pickles and my better-half would be making her new experimental recipe for hot pickled zucchini or as she calls it Hot Zucchini Pickles. She’s trying to come up with a few solutions for processing and storing of the large number of zucchini’s we’re expecting.  She’s always made a lot of zucchini breads but we can only eat so much of that.

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We work well as a team and set up an assembly line in the kitchen.  I sliced the cukes, the habaneros, and a few jalapeños and set them aside. She prepared her zucchini,  and jalapeños, and we were ready to rock and roll.  She was responsible for packing the jars and I then added the brine, capped the jars and placed them into the water bath.  It took a couple of hours of work but we rolled along like a well oiled machine.

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After all was said and done we had ten pint jars of the mustard pickles and six additional pints of pickled zucchini.  The jars sealed properly and will be ready for labeling tomorrow. Unfortunately we have to wait a month or so before we can taste the finished product.  The veggies need time to absorb the flavor from the brine and the heat from the hot peppers.  We can’t wait to try them and will keep our fingers crossed for the anticipated good results.

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“The Finished Product”

07-23-2014 Journal Entry – Another Rainy Day!   Leave a comment

It’s raining like hell this morning so I decided to spend this time in bed enjoying the sounds and smells of the day.  I like walking in the rain almost as much as I enjoy listening to it but not today.  Today is going to be a computer day for me because I have a number of things that need to be accomplished.

In my last posting I made an attempt to create some discussion with my list of ten questions. While a good number of people visited and read the posting the response to my request for their answers apparently fell on deaf ears. Not one single response was disappointing as hell but not totally unexpected. At least I tried to wake up a few brain cells out there and just so you know, I will try again.

Today is the day I begin learning how to use the new software package I recently purchased.  Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 & Adobe Premiere Elements 12 has been purchased and installed and await my full attention for the next six hours or so. I’m also awaiting the arrival from Amazon of a 400 page User’s Manual I was forced to buy because those cheap bastards at Adobe don’t feel that including a Users Manual is cost effective.  Both of the programs are massive and without a manual you might never ever know all of the bells and whistles they contains. I’m praying that the manual arrives today or tomorrow so I can spend the next few days experimenting with the software. I need to get up to speed as quickly as possible because I have projects that will be much easier to complete once I’ve gotten a little hands-on experience.

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This week another of my goals is to begin preparations for my first canning class of 2014.  A number of my better-half’s friends are interested in learning how the process works so they can eventually can their own pickles. With so many requests I decided to do a class that would take care of them all at once.  I’m just a week or so away from canning my first batch of pickles this year so I’ve invited a group of them to get together, watch me do a batch, take appropriate notes, and return home to attempt to do some of their own. I’ve tried to convince them that canning is a simple process but they appear very skeptical.  I also make myself available 24/7 for emergency telephone calls when the occasional mishap arises.  I’ve done a few one-on-ones in the past which were very successful so this should be a breeze.

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I’ve been cleaning and preparing jars for a few weeks because it’s going to get very busy very quickly and I need to keep ahead of things.  I’m estimating we’ll be canning 40-60 pints of hot Bread & Butter pickles, 20 pints of hot Mustard Dills, and 15-20 pints of hot Kosher Dills.  Add in another 30-50 half pints of assorted jellies, jams, and relishes and you can see that we’ll be canning our asses off for six weeks or so. If I do say so myself, we make some damn good pickles, a truly excellent variety of jams, and the relishes can speak for themselves.   Many of the folks who request our pickles return the jars for a refill and as you can see I have them everywhere.

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Fun, fun, and more fun.

08-26-2013   3 comments

It feels like a good day for a journal entry.  As the summer winds down my better-half and I have been very busy with the garden and the canning of everything possible.  Even though the weather’s been a little strange at times this summer overall it’s still been very productive.

I’ve been forced to work very hard this week due to the subpar garden fabric I purchased at Home Depot earlier his year.  Because of the failure of the fabric to eliminate the ever present weeds I’m now faced with several days of back breaking work to clean up weeds and begin to remove plants that have run their course.  I worked on my hands and knees for three hours removing weeds and pieces of surviving fabric and being ever so careful not to damage the hot pepper plants that are still producing.  I have a small trailer for my lawn tractor and I filled it twice with weeds in almost no time.

The Cayenne, Serrano, and bell peppers are still going strong and should continue for a few more weeks.  The cold nights aren’t helping but what can I do? I’ve removed fifty percent of the cucumber plants because we are becoming overwhelmed with them.  I canned more than forty pints of hot Bread & Butter pickles and could have done at least that many more.  Truthfully I ‘m just tired of looking at them.  I found myself dreaming about pickles a couple of recent nights which was a little disturbing to say the least. I’ve taken three handful of rhubarb seeds and planted an area behind the house with them.  If we’re lucky next spring might bring us an entire new patch of rhubarb.  The plants from last year have done well and next summer we’ll be making some killer strawberry-rhubarb jam.

I’m really tired of this weeding.  I’ll need to check with a nearby friend for advice on what fabric to buy for next year. I don’t plan on ever doing this again even if it cost me a few additional dollars.

We’ve successfully filled the larder with pickles, relishes, herb flavored vinegars, vegetable mixes (for stir-fry’s), spicy pasta sauce, salsa (2 large batches), and three batches of jams.  We spent one recent day at our favorite blackberry patch and within a half hour collected close to three quarts of blackberries.  The triple-berry jam recipe is to die for and we’ll now have more than enough for the winter and as gifts for friends.  I might even consider a small batch of black berry wine if we have enough berries.

All in all a very successful summer.  We’ve now started winding down in preparation for winter and it already feels like Fall and it’s still only August. I’m planning on rebuilding a portion of the garden and changing things around a little.  Then it’s soil preparation, fertilizing, and waiting for the snow to fly.

I’d like to chat further but I’ve got more work to do before my better-half gets home from work.

* * *

Just as an afterthought here’s a little something I just received from my sister. It made me laugh out loud and that’s always a good thing.  Enjoy.

HOW IS NORMA?

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph ‘s Hospital. She timidly asked,
"Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing ?"

The operator said,
"I’ll be glad to help, dear. What’s the name and room number of the patient ?"

The grandmother in her weak, tremulous voice said "Norma Findlay, Room 302."

The operator replied,
"Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse’s station for that room."

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said, "I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow."

The grandmother said,
"Thank you. That’s wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good news."

The operator replied,
"You’re more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter ?"

The grandmother said,
"No, I’m Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me shit."

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