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September 2, 2014

Roasted Tomatoes










It is so hard to believe September is already here.  I hope you enjoyed a lovely Labor Day weekend, soaking up the last bit of our "official" summer.  Although the thermometer still says "summer", our routine is switching to "fall" with the start of classes in the morning and soccer games and practices in the afternoon and evening.  Hubby and I had initially thought of taking a small road trip with the Littles on Labor Day weekend, but as we talked about where to go and what to do, we actually made the decision to stay home and take advantage of the one day that we actually didn't have to go anywhere.  We used it as a day to get caught up on a few things around the farm.  Hubby spent most of the day sorting and planing boards for the outside trim on our addition, and I caught up on laundry, mopped a few floors, organized the library, and harvested what I could from the garden.  It was a lovely day, actually, and I was happy that we chose to stay home.  It always feels so good to go into a busy week prepared and organized.

One area that I chose to work on in the garden yesterday was my tomato patch.  We have been harvesting tomatoes for a couple of weeks now and have been enjoying them for lunch and supper almost every day.  We use them for sandwiches, cut them into salads, but mostly we simply slice and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and eat as a side dish with whatever we are having for supper; nothing much compares to the taste of a freshly picked, still warm from the sun, garden tomato.  Up until now we could keep up with them by simply picking and eating, but now they are ripening so fast that it is time to start preserving.  My vines are all brown and dead, having succumbed to a late-hitting blight, but the plants were able to produce quite a bit of fruit, and the tomatoes are ripening quite nicely.  I did pick a bowl full of rotten ones that had been pecked at by our rogue Guinea hen that kept sneaking in the garden before we clipped her wings (the chickens were quite happy about that bowl full), but I harvested a nice basketful for preserving.

I've always canned our tomatoes, but this year I decided to try something a bit different.  I roasted them. It was quite simple; it filled our house with the most tantalizing aroma, and the result was delicious! I will definitely be doing this again, maybe even replacing my usual method for making spaghetti sauce with my new roasted tomato sauce.

It was so simple; I wanted to share with you how I did it.

After washing the tomatoes, I cut them into chunks and spread them onto pans, lightly covered with oil. I sprinkled them with salt, pepper, chopped garlic, basil, and fresh oregano.  You could use as much or as little as you want and add any herb that you like.  I think next time I may try adding a bit of onion and even some green peppers. I then roasted them for about 2 hours at 300 degrees.  Oh, you won't believe how delicious your kitchen will smell while those delightful tomatoes are roasting! After they were finished roasting, I let them cool, put them through my food processor to break up the chunks, and poured the sauce into freezer bags...that's it!  It really was so simple, and the flavor....oh, the flavor...so much better, in my opinion, than the traditional spaghetti sauce that I usually make and can.  Roasting the tomato brings such a smoky sweetness to the sauce and will be quite comforting on a blustery, cold night this winter.  I'm looking forward to putting many more bags of roasted tomato sauce in our freezer.

August 29, 2014

This Moment

I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...

{this moment}

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

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Moment captured by my daughter.

August 27, 2014

Summer Thrifted Treasure










In an attempt to keep our home clutter free, I haven't had much of an opportunity to write a Thrifted Treasure post. I do love browsing at thrift stores and antique shops when I get the chance; however, I have been careful this summer to only bring home what I know we need or will use.  I prefer using natural and organic fibers and am always in search for useful things of that nature, and bringing life back to items that were once used and cared for by someone before me is so gratifying.  I thought it would be fun to share what I have found this summer.

1.  We have a small stack of "orphan" bowls sitting on our hoosier in the kitchen that we have slowly been collecting, one bowl at a time. Most of them have sweet little country scenes on them that we just couldn't resist.  They are perfect for a handful of cherry tomatoes freshly picked from the garden, a place to set a used tea bag, a dollop of homemade pudding, or whatever one may need a sweet little bowl for. It's been such fun finding these inexpensive treasures, never costing more than $.99 a piece, and watching our little stack grow as we add a bit of who we are to our home.

2.  At a recent yard sale, I found a large box of sewing bits and bobs...scissors of all shapes and sizes; vintage spools of thread; packages of bias tape, trim, and rick rack;  measuring tapes of all kinds; needles; snaps; buttons...all  organized in neat little bags.  I so enjoyed coming home and reorganizing my treasure on the shelves of my sewing room.  I'm especially excited about the vintage package of floral bias tape, originally purchased for only $.15, and am looking forward to finding just the perfect project to use it on.

3.  Three lovely children's books, picked up in a free box on the lawn of a local antique store, found there way onto our library shelves.  Who could resist the sweet little stories and the darling illustrations?  I just love the one with Mrs. Nibble sitting on her porch knitting.

4.  Finally, and probably my favorite finds of the summer, are my vintage wool blankets.  Some will be used on our beds when the winter winds start to blow, and others will be used for snuggling on the couch and in the chairs. I have picked them up from various places over the summer, and all have been gently washed, hung in the sun to dry, and packed away in the linen closet for cooler days.  With temperatures climbing almost to 90 this week, the wool blankets will have to wait a bit before we can really appreciate their warmth.

August 22, 2014

This Moment

I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...

{this moment}

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

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August 19, 2014

August Garden











Is it already mid-August? It seems like only yesterday I was looking at my snow covered garden wondering if I ever was going to be able to start planting, and here we are at the height of harvest.  So many wonderful things are coming from the garden now...zucchini, summer squash, cabbage, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, beans...oh, the beans; they just keep producing by the bucketful!  My plan to plant one row for summer eating and two for preserving has worked better than I expected. The freezers and pantry are filling up quite nicely with 8 quarts of dilly beans recently being added to the shelves. I used a traditional dilly bean recipe from my Ball Blue Book, not yet daring to delve into the world of fermentation.  After a very unsuccessful attempt to make sauerkraut, I haven't had the nerve to try fermenting again...oh, I shudder when I think of that disastrous outcome.

Meal planning this time of year is so easy. Some type of meat, usually grilled, or pasta and fresh summer vegetables are standard summer fare here on the farm.  Sauteed zucchinikale salad, and Asian style slaw have been dinner favorites the past few weeks.  I love being able to stroll to the garden in search of our dinner meal, so rewarding and so peaceful.

My attentions have now turned to harvesting and many of the weeds have been allowed to take hold.  I did, however, grab a few Littles and enticed them to help me remove the "carpet" that was encroaching upon my tomato plants.  We have also had some trouble with one lone guinea hen, who escaped getting her wings clipped.  She insists on flying over the garden fence and pecking my ripening tomatoes, and she doesn't miss a single one that is at her level.  Hubby finally caught her in action this past weekend, and gave her a bit of a trim.  My tomatoes are now safe, as long as little children wandering in for a handful of blueberries remember to close the gate behind them.

It seems my attentions this summer have been mostly of the outdoor nature, and my knitting and sewing have come to an abrupt stop. Living here in the Northeast where winters are so long, I want to take advantage of every bit of summer that I can, knowing I will have plenty of time soon for those cozy indoor projects.  Today the sky is blue, and the air is crisp and dry, a nice change from the wet, clammy weather we have been experiencing. I'm looking forward to this lovely, late summer day.

August 15, 2014

This Moment

I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...

{this moment}

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

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August 14, 2014

Gratitude





Thanks to my daughter for this lovely photo



With a week that, so far, has not turned out quite as I had expected or planned, I've decided it would be a perfect time to focus on what has brought a smile to my face the past few weeks, the small things in life that I can so easily take for granted when my days become busy and or my mind is focused on all that needs to be accomplished or taken care of.  I mustn't let these little gifts of goodness pass me by without taking notice or showing gratitude. 


     a basket of antique, wooden clothespins picked up at a yard sale for $.25

     the joy that radiates from our little girl, even when life throws her multiple curve balls

     beautiful sunsets viewed from the porch

     a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables 

     pretty little violas in the garden next to my doorstep

     newly thrifted wool blankets hanging on the line (they will be so warm and cozy this winter)

     cuddles and snuggles from our new little friend

     a game of pick-up sticks, passed down from Grandpa

    ending green beans on the porch with lots of little helpers


What has recently put a smile on your face?

     
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