Sunday, August 30, 2009

Market Days


My market days list for this week:

Three bunches of red beets, garlic, romaine lettuce, wonderful eggs (from happy chickens), shelling peas (we are the only ones that have them this time of year due to a second crop the farm puts out, so these are prized items), summer savory (which I am drying), cilantro, broccoli, green beans, celeriac, sun gold and cherry tomatoes, blueberries, peaches, and basil.

This week was a very fruitful week for me. Basically I didn't have to put out any money whatsoever for this amazing feast of bounty I have sitting on my table in this picture. Why? Because I asked when every one was packing up if they had excess or bruised fruits and veggies that they couldn't sell but were still sound. The peaches and blueberries would have been $.50/lb, but being a vendor myself, I traded our leftover veggies for that. So I didn't even have to pay for that. But even had I paid, it wouldn't have been much and the blueberries are just for eating, the peaches are for peach butter (recipe later), and that bag of goodness you see on the bottom right??? Yeah. That's basil. About 1 1/2 lbs of basil. *glee* Look for my pesto recipe later this week. :)

That jar of yummy that is sitting in the middle is a trade for my roasted tomato sauce from another vendor. Smoke jalapeno peppers. I can't wait to try them!

signature

Friday, August 28, 2009

Preserving Food ~ Sugar-free Peach Canning Marathon 2009


I'll be perfectly honest, I don't expect anyone to be as insane as I feel right this moment and take on 120lbs of peaches for the year. Yes, we use that many. And yes, it has become a yearly ritual for me to do a lot of peaches... but wow. Last year I did 4 boxes, and this year I did 5, and just after I did all of the tomato sauce. I am not sorry, but I am CRAZY tired. I have been running on nothing but coffee and junk food for days and I feel it (and isn't that ironic?). In the last two days, I have spent 18 hours canning, picking up stuff for canning, or preparing to can. That doesn't include eating the junk food I have bought, or cleaning up (which I haven't done yet). BUT, if you wanted to do a box or two of peaches (which would take you an afternoon and you would still be perfectly sane at the end) this is how I do it.

First, get your stuff together. You will need:

  • "Freestone" sweet canning peaches (Ask your farmer or market guy for freestone peaches... he will know what you are talking about.)
  • Jars (for each 20 - 25lb box, you will need about 12 jars)
  • New lids
  • Rings
  • Pineapple Juice (2 46oz cans per box)
  • Honey (3 cups per box)
  • Two huge bowls (or three if you are not using your sink for the cold water bath)
  • One small garbage bowl
  • a sharp paring knife
  • A water bath canner
  • Large pot for blanching peaches
  • Large pot for syrup

Step 1: Preparing the jars and lids

Your jars should be in your dishwasher on a hot light wash. Remember the heated dry. This should also be on. The jars HAVE to be hot when you fill them or they may break during processing. (To do this outside, my friends and I had success with pouring boiling water in the clean jars and then pouring it out right before we filled them. Even just filling them half way worked out well.)

Put the lids for your jars in a small bowl or pan, and pour boiling water over them to get the seals sticky.


Step 2: Making the syrup

Hannah's amazing sugar-free peach syrup:
1 cup honey to 4 cups pineapple juice
With these measurements I figured out that one 46oz can of pineapple juice needs 1 1/2 cups of honey added to it for the right ratio. I made two cans of juice per box of peaches. Put all this in a large pan and get to a good and hot simmer... boil before adding to jars.

Step 3: Skinning and slicing the peaches

Get the large pot of water boiling and drop the peaches in it for 2 mintues. Take them out and put them in a cold water bath. Could be a large bowl, I just use my sink:

This is to help remove the skin. It comes off so easily after the hot and cold dips that you can just take it off like this:

To cut up the peaches you will use your paring knife and slice them down to the pit slowly moving around the peach. This should also work very easily with the 'freestones' and they should literally fall into the bowl as you are cutting them.

Step 4: Filling the jars

Pull the hot jars from the dishwasher and add peaches.

When you have your jar filled with peaches, add the syrup. You should add it up to about a 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Run a knife around the outside of the jar to remove any bubbles, and if you need to, add more syrup.

After the jars are full, place the hot lid on top and put the ring on 'finger tight'.

Step 6: Processing

Place jars carefully in a waterbath canner and process covered in water that is at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.

Pull the jars out with a jar grabber and place them on a towel on your counter with some breathing room around each one for at least two hours.


Most of my jars were sticky afterward, so I washed them off once they were cool and placed them in the garage on the shelf:


Enjoy peaches on oatmeal, peach cobbler, and everything peaches all winter long.

(My kids asked if they could have a jar this morning and I flat out told them "NO". Lol... maybe I am mean, but I need to look at this sight in my pantry for a week or two before I let them dig in.)

signature

One Pretty Thing


The other day I was featured on One Pretty Thing! I love that site and have gotten many a good idea from her Craft Roundups over the last few months since I found it. I think the idea of the Craft Roundup is brilliant and I am so excited to be able to be a part of this collection of crafters. Seriously, when I first saw my work on there I felt like a rockstar!

Here are the round ups where you can find my work, along with TONS of other craft ideas from amazing crafters all over the net.

DIY August 26th (Smocked Pillowcase Top)

Craft Roundup for Kids (Budding Artist Gift Roll)

DIY August 25th (Pillowcase Dress)

If you are a crafter, or even if you are just wanting to bring more fun crafts into your life... One Pretty Thing is one of those sites that you want to be following in your feed or on your dashboard so you see it each and every day. You don't want to miss these amazing ideas and crafty inventions. I have been printing out and filing away ideas for Christmas gifts, things for the kids, and even a few gifts for the husband from the lists. It is a wonderful collection and I am honored to now be a part of it.

signature

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homeschooling year starts... well, keeps going.


We never really stopped homeschooling this summer. We have done book lessons, classes, camps, retreats, etc all summer long. The nice days have led themselves to outings and fun educational adventures where ever they fit in with the bookwork. It has been wonderful! I would rather take off the boring months of the winter than in the summer where it is so easy to find educational fun.

This beach tour was an idea I came up with after accidentially stumbling upon a beach next to the zoo. The kids loved it so much that for the last two weeks we have been touring beaches around our area. We have gone in the morning (low tide) and in the evening (high tide). We have brought dinner, lunch, or nothing but sand toys. We have enjoyed it with friends, family, and just us. I am really excited about this way to learn about our new area. It has been fun and educational.

Did you know that beach glass is really rare? But we found a bunch on our tour in all colors... even blue (the rarest). I put it in this new bowl for the nature table. I also had another bowl that I put a bunch of rosehips into from another beach tour.

Cyan learned how to tell the sex of crabs as well. She really enjoyed this and has been flipping over every dead crab we see to tell me if it was a boy or a girl. lol! (I know... ew!)

It has been a lot of fun adventures.

signature

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Preserving Food ~ Roasted Tomato Sauce


This sauce is best made with a variety of tomatoes. I used the Champions from the garden, along with the sauce tomatoes and the Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes from the farm.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes (One flat of tomatoes makes about 8 - 10 pints of sauce)
Garlic
Balsamic
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Pepper
Italian Seasoning

Equipment:

Roasting pans (I used my glass Pyrex baking dishes)
Knife
Large spoon
garlic crusher
water bath canner
clean and hot jars, lids and rings

First, cut all tomatoes at least in half. Even the cherries. If you don't do this, they 'pop' later in cooking and give your sauce a watery consistency. Fill a baking pan with the cut tomatoes about a layer and a half deep. Crush a head of garlic into each baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, 2 Tbs or more of balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper.


Mix well and put in a 400* oven for 40 minutes. About a half hour into the roasting you will smell the tomato sauce. :) When your timer goes off, your sauce should look like this:

Then, VERY CAREFULLY, put it into a blender or food processor and process on low speed with the lid held on (but not tight, only so it doesn't splatter and burn you.) Slowly turn the speed up on the blender until you have your sauce to the consistency you want (I like mine super pureed). During this step, add your Italian Seasoning and any salt and pepper you might need to your taste.

This is what mine looks like when I am done:


At this point, it is the perfect place to let the sauce cool, and put it into bags for the freezer if you so desire. Make sure it is cooled completely in a bowl or in the blender before adding it to the freezer bags. It will separate if you freeze it warm.

Put the jar lids in a bowl of boiling water. Then fill hot, clean jars with hot sauce, and put on the lids and rings (again *very* carefully! Everything is hot at this point!). Process covered with a rolling boil in a water bath canner for 35 - 40 minutes:

This is our soup base for tomato soup, our pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and is dumped into our chili for that tomato flare.

The process is time consuming... but oh so worth it! What an amazing taste this will be come January! If you want to try it... just make one batch to test and see if your family likes it as much as mine does. :)

signature

Dad's Wedding

This has been a really long week. I have had family in town for my dad's wedding, and then of course, food preservation on top of it. These last two weeks have been amazing. But really long.

The wedding was beautiful! It was very casual, and a lot more people showed up than they thought would have. Luckily, they had made it a potluck reception, so there was no worrying about how much food they had because everyone brought something to share! My favorite part of the ceremony was when they were saying their vows.

"Randy, will you hurt or anger Margret?"

"I may..." (followed by smiles and laughter)

"Will this be your intent?"

"No."

"Margret, will you hurt or anger Randy?"

"I may..." (giggling now)

Will that be your intent?

"Never."

How true, and how beautiful??? That bit was followed by a Celtic hand fasting, and then the traditional "You may now kiss the bride" and lots of clapping. Some dancing, conversation, and good potluck food and it was over. But it was a beautiful evening.

For the potluck, I took two batches of my Anyberry Bars... one with wild Cloud berries, and the other with Blackberries. Both were a hit... the blackberry didn't even make it half way through dessert.

There was one embarrassing moment though. Logan, being very two, is also much more verbal than most two year olds. lol... and as Cyan (the flower girl) and Dad and Margret were walking down the isle to the waves crashing on the beach, he piped up with "Why are they not talking? This is dumb." Yeah... I was mortified, and I don't know where he got that either. But everyone laughed and no one really remembered afterward so I hope it doesn't go down in the Rose family history that our children are rude at weddings. ;) There was another moment when they were saying their vows and Logan says "I DO!" really loud. That was a little bit cuter. lol... And luckily, the only one of his little outbursts that was caught on video.

signature

Monday, August 24, 2009

Market Monday!

Sorry I have been so absent. A bad burn on my left index finger has caused me to not really enjoy typing as much as usual. I got a hot glue gun (and the glue) somehow up under my finger nail and the resulting blister separated a small part of my nail from my finger... so you can imagine that the forming blister was rather painful. It took hours for it to stop throbbing. This was last Wed and just yesterday it started to feel a whole lot better. I am hoping the blister goes away soon, but for now, I am able to type. That is good.

MARKET! Market was crazy yesterday! Just nuts... but unfortunately we didn't make much money for the farm. We thought by the end of the day that the average order was about $6. We kind of got 'nickle and dimed' to death. Sigh. Hopefully we will have a better week next week.

My list:

Cabbage, Italian zucchini, cucumbers (blond and slicing), mint (for mint water, yum!), cilantro, dill, fresh Walla Walla onions, 6 heads of garlic (for tomato sauce), 3lbs of new crescent potatoes, and two heads of Lolla Rosa Lettuce:

It is the darkest, purplest lettuce ever... and it is tasty! I couldn't stop munching on it yesterday. I am excited to add this to the romaine and make the most beautiful salad ever!

But of course, my list doesn't stop there. It is food preservation season after all. I got 4 flats of tomatoes to make into sauce today. I say today because they were all getting ready to turn, and so we had them on special all day long and sold a lot... but these were still going back to the farm and wouldn't get used with the new ones coming out of the field. So I got them. :) The heads of garlic will be matched with them this afternoon to make the best sauce I have EVER had... and I am going to attempt to can it. If it works, I will be sure to post a recipe and instructions.

And peaches.

I picked up 12 boxes (that is 265lbs!!) of peaches yesterday. 5 boxes are for me and my family and then three other mamas got in on the good market deal with me and I picked up a few boxes for each of them. Peach canning marathon 2009 should be happening on Thursday night (they need to finish ripening). I have a special sugar free way to do peaches so I will be sure to post that too.

I don't stop moving in August. It just keeps going and going. I feel like an energizer bunny until about October. BUT, I love it... my freezers are full (with organic grass fed beef now too!) and my pantry is filling... it is an amazing yearly ritual that feeds us all winter. I have to admit to being really tired at the moment though. I think a day off this week will be in order where I do nothing but read good books, make lists, and watch movies. I may even throw in some junk food. LOL!

signature

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ecolovies ~ Smocked/Shirred Pillowcase Top


There are some things that pillowcases lend themselves to so beautifully that it would be silly not to try it. This is one of those.

Shirring is really simple. However, for this project, you will use your iron as much as your sewing machine, so make sure that when you start this project, you have both ready and on hand. Then it can be finished in next to no time.

For this project, you will need:

1 pillow case
matching or coordinating thread
sewing machine
elastic thread
iron and ironing board

First, measure your child from arm pit to where you want the shirt to go. For Cyan (long torso and size 8) she measures about 17 inches. Measuring from the bottom of the pillowcase, I add one inch to that length (for seam allowance and gathering factor) and cut the rest off the closed end of the pillow case. (Keep aside for straps.)

Then make a small hem at the cut edge to finish it off. Not too big, about 1/2 inch is great. Iron the edge with the pillow case seam (there is only one) at the back center.


Now, wind your bobbin with elastic thread. This thread can be found at any sewing and craft store. The top thread will remain the same, so you want to pick one that either matches or compliments your pillowcase really well.

Starting at the top where the hem is, stitch the hem with the elastic thread underneath all the way around following the hem. It will not look like it is doing much gathering at this point. This is very normal.

Now move your fabric over so that the hem is on the right edge of the presser foot. This is where you sew your next line of gathers. If you use your presser foot as a gage to where your stitches are supposed to go, you end up with very neat and strait gathers without having to measure every line.

Make 10 gathering lines, lock stitching (if you can) each line at beginning and end. Try not to cut the threads until you are finished. Just moving your presser foot down to the next line and lock stitch, sew all the way around, and then lock stitch again. (If you like a longer smocking, try 15 lines on the top.... or just a bit of smocking at the very top with a more princess type look, do only 5 lines. It is a very versatile pattern.)

Iron. This time you want as much steam as your iron can pump out. This will help your top gather nicely into the smocking.

To make the straps, just take the left over pillowcase, and cut it into 2 1/2 inch strips. Then fold in half and iron. Fold both edges to the middle where it was ironed and iron again. Fold in half and sew down the open side. Place the top on the child, and pin the straps in place at the right length. Take it off them and sew the straps to the top. (I use safety pins so when I take it back off Cyan it doesn't poke her.)

I chose to place the back straps close together for a more racer back look, but any placement will look cute!

signature

Morning

I breed morning people. If Logan sleeps until 7 am I am a lucky duck. Alex was even earlier. He woke up at 6 everyday without fail, and I only got relief after he was old enough to make his own breakfast... and then I had Logan. lol....

Most of the time I really don't mind. But sometimes... I just want to sleep in. Never happens. I am a very light sleeper and my kids love to pile into bed with me first thing in the morning. Logan is first... he will pull the covers up and climb in, all elbows and knees, and then pulling the covers back down over him he will snuggle in close to me as he can get. This ritual holds a special place in my heart. I remember several years worth of mornings, spent dosing next to my mom who was still trying to hold on to slumber. With me, all elbows and knees (and cold feet!) snuggled on the very edge of the her bed. Many a morning when I would close my eyes for as long as I could...... and then thought it was magical that when I opened them again, it would be lighter through the skylight. Laying there, looking through the large slider until I could see the hippie bumper sticker of the unicorn that I had put there when my dad made the lean-to green house. Slowly it would go from a grey blur... to brillant colors. These were everyday mornings... with a little magic in them.

Our house faces West... and so all the morning light floods into the back windows every morning. The light in this house is pretty amazing. Every sunny morning we have woken up to rainbows thrown around the house from the sun catcher in the dining room. The kitchen is flooded with glowing sunlight... the only time in the day you don't need a light in there. There is still something magical about waking up early. Still something magical about watching the sun come up...

That doesn't always mean I want to be up when it does. *Yawn*

signature

Monday, August 17, 2009

Market Monday

I was so blissfully tired when I got home from market yesterday. It was a long day. I woke up way too early, and hadn't slept well the night before.... so I started off behind. I ended up getting a coke halfway through the day just so I could stop staring off into space. My sweet market partner was great through it all. She also, was not really prepared for the work of the day. 5 hours, over $2,000. Crazy busy. Food flying off the table, and us trying to juggle it all... with sleep deprived brains. We forgave each other a lot, teased each other a lot, and laughed a lot. Thank god for good friends.


My list for this week: Three pints of tomatoes (two sun golds, and one plum tomato), green onions, three bunches red beets (for this recipe), three bunches carrots, , three fresh Walla Walla Onions, Italian kale, romaine lettuce, salad bowl lettuce, 3 crookneck squash, a bunch of dill and 5 heads of wonderful Carpathian garlic. From market trades I got one dozen eggs, a full pizza for lunch, 4 large peaches, and 3 lbs doughnut peaches. Along with all that I got 10lbs of shelling peas that the kids and I are going to shell and freeze today, and 20 bunches of golden beets to preserve (like this).

Our garden is starting to produce tomatoes. *glee* We have gotten a few really ripe ones, but most of them are the orangy red of 'just before ready'. I gave Logan one of the cherry tomatoes because he asked for it... and what I knew would happen, happened:


My picky boy. He will get older, and he will love tomatoes. Just like his mama. Or he will hate them, just like his dad. Only time will tell.

signature

Preserving Food ~ Drying Fruit


I had some serious nostalgia of the little farm I grew up on while my daughter and I cut and dried fruit the other day. My mom and I would spend hours making dried bananas, apples, and cherries for our winter oatmeal. I really loved doing it with Cyan.

The cherries were first. Thank goodness for the Pampered Chef cherry pitter. Seriously, I am not a gadget person, but over the last two years, this little thing has really wormed it's way into my heart. (Pitting three pounds of cherries would have taken hours without it.)


Here is Cyan cutting the strawberries.


They dried for 10 hours and then I pulled all the ones that were done off the racks and left the others for another 5 hours.

I do need a bit of advice for drying though. How do you keep them sweet? I got them at the peek of season, I made them large pieces, and didn't over dry. And yet, every now and again, you get a REALLY bitter one. I know none of this fruit was bitter. Any ideas?

signature