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Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

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Too many tomatoes, peaches falling off the tree and “waste not, want want.” – Sounds like a tomato and peach glut to me.

I finally grew a real garden this year after several bad attempts and concluding there’s no way I’ll ever have a great garden.  But this year it did amazingly well until the temperatures went three digits. Then everything started to brown, wilt and slow in production. Still I had enough produce to put a few pints and quarts away for the rest of the year. This is how things looked on the west side of my patio sometime in June. (there’s more on the east side)

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And again several weeks later.

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And just to be sure you get the idea. Here’s some of what was harvested.

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So far the 3 tomato plants yielded about 50 lbs of tomatoes and this time I decided it was time I did some canning. So I got busy and canned 12 quarts of stewed tomatoes.

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Then I my husband asked me to make tomato jam. It seems he remembers his mother canning tomato jam when he was a boy. Well, I too remember tomato jam only it was the neighbor across the cul-de-sac from our house. (Thank you – Barbara) And I remember being quite shocked at the sweet yumminess in my mouth.

So, tomato jam would be a first for my kitchen but I couldn’t wait to try it out.  Another several pounds of blanched, skinned and deseeded tomatoes later and some hot bubbly, sugary, steamy work over the stove and several pints were canned.

I was bummed it didn’t set but no worries I just open a jar when I need it, pour the contents into a saucepan and reduce at a boil for about 10 minutes and… Voila! Perfect tomato jam that my husband seems to prefer over that fancy French stuff I pick up at the specialty shop. (have a look at the little jar there next to the quart of stewed tomatoes.)

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This is the way I enjoy my tomato jam … A cup of tea and toast with cream cheese and tomato jam… Mmmmm.. Deliciousness…. Delightful!

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Then this morning I got to canning 8 pints of peach butter. I’ve made apricot butter and plumb butter before but this year I decided my neighbors peach tree hanging over my back fence with the puny, boring fruits with bitter skin that don’t ripen on the tree and never get bigger than an apricot wouldn’t go to waste another summer. So I got to work and blanched, peeled, deseeded, simmered and boiled those little lovelies until they were worthy of homemade toast.

It was highly satisfying to hear the canning lids pop (ahhh!) one by one as the jars cooled and sealed in all that sweet fruit.

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For my next effort I hope to be canning tomato salsa from a recipe that my mother-in-law made.  I lost the recipe years ago and after she passed away I figured I’d never be able to reproduce that awesome flavor until the other day when I remembered a friend of mine has had the recipe for years.  I’ll be giving her a call soon. 🙂

In the mean time, I’m quite satisfied with my labors. My efforts to eat cleaner and closer to the vine are paying off.

Growing your own produce ensures cleaner food on your table and knowing its clean just makes you feel healthier.  Next year I hope to blog my gardens progress more systematically. For now, it was good to finally just get a post on the proverbial paper.

Hope your summer is beginning to cool off.  Leave a comment if you like. Let me know about your canning adventures. Tell me if you’ve ever made tomato jam. Maybe we can swap recipes… c’mon… Ask me how to make it.  For now I’ll leave you with this…

Proverbs 31:15-17

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

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A couple of summers ago I wrote a post about gardening and in it mentioned , “teaching your children and remembering Who it is that has provided the bounty on your plate!”

Pictured above is my oldest daughter, who posted the photo on her facebook album. She reminded me of the impact we can have on our children while they are growing up and how important it is to pass on the things that are most important in life.  Her “sense of adventure” and being a “berry picker” are, apparently, a result of my example.

The truth is these qualities were passed on to me by my parents who took my older sister and I camping, made us work in the home garden and picked wild berries on the side of the road with us, not to mention a number of other things that have stuck with me into my 50’s.

I learned from my parents to keep an eye out for wild critters and learned to spot a deer when most folks would miss it.  I count and track the birds that come and go each year in my back yard.  Even begging my husband to stop on the side of the road so I could enjoy the multitude of wild flowers in the spring was a result of parental guidance.

The things we pass on to our children can last into eternity… It’s up to us to choose what it is that they will live with forever.  Teach them rightly and they will live rightly.  Teach them evil and they will reap the consequences.

There is no greater joy than knowing your children have taken on the heritage you’ve handed down to them.  The next best thing is watching them share it with their children and others.

2 Timothy 1:5 I remember your true faith. That faith first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I know you now have that same faith.

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hmdestll

There’s a part of me that genuinely believes I was born in the wrong century.  When I was a child I loved to imagine myself in the old west something like Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.  Living off the land and preparing all sorts of wonderful and useful home made concoctions.  Sounds so glamours but not very realistic.  

That part of me sneaks up every once in a while and I get the urge to bake or make a home remedy or some soap.  Usually these urges are unheeded but this week is an exception.

This morning I baked some yeasty no-knead whole wheat rolls which were perfect for our lunch sandwiches of roast beef and pepper-jack cheese.  While, over the past few days, I have been drying and packaging peppermint leaves I grew in my garden for tea.  The aroma in my house on Monday was intoxicating and lasted for days as the oven and food dehydrator slowly did their magic and dried the leaves.  After some simple tasks I now have two large canisters filled with loose tea leaves for gifts and for my own pantry.  And I have plenty of peppermint in the garden to make some more next week and hope to stock up for the year.

This afternoon I’ve been trying something totally outside of my experiences.  I’ve created a simple still on my stove and have begun the process of distilling lavender water from which I hope to extract lavender oil.  

Once again the house smells like a perfumery and I’m so giddy at the thought of my first adventure in making my own frangrances for bath and body soaps and salts.  

Leave a comment… tell me what you like to make at home.

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