Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sala Verde - Canning

Five pounds of tomatoes were sitting on our newly build kitchen counter. I knew I had to do something with this beautiful bounty. The weekend is vanishing right in front of my eyes, I decided to take on canning early Sunday morning. No group y-cycle for me, since I needed to to finish many tasks. Including a trip to the local farm to pick a pumpkin.

I found this easy recipe from the ball - canning site for salsa verde. Saturday was cut short due to work but the rest of the day look was open and busy but we took it easy to catch up and spend time together with each other which includes a afternoon nap as well. Then the rest of the day was spent with friends in town while waiting the oldest to return from a meet. Then filling orders and finally, I was able to get some reading done!

Sunday, getting few more projects done, cooking, canning, and a trip to the farm. Time spent in the kitchen was well worth since I decided to take on canning the green and red tomatoes. As you can see I enjoy every bit of this process. The kitchen was filled with the wonderful aroma of salsa. I am wishing for at least one or two snow days this winter to open some of this bounty from our garden. 

What do you make of green tomatoes. Do you fry them, or pickle them. Few of my friends who tried this said they were great!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prepping the Raise beds for Fall Stage -1

Past few weekends had been brimmed with activities from indoors to outdoors. One of the major tasks was to clean at least one raise bed before it get all crazy. I remember my oldest mentioned during this process that, this garden has supplied us a great bounty throughout summer. It was nice to hear a positive compliment from a teenager!

There were about few pounds of green tomatoes, I offered few to my neighbor but I still had few more pounds. I know what I can do with these may be some salsa verde. 

As we begin the process to take the ties off from the plants, then the stakes, and finally pull the plants out, and fill the wheelbarrow with dried brittle tomato plants gives a nice reminder that the growing season is officially over! Our hands smelled like tomatoes as we pulled about twelve plants. 

we still have parsley, oregano, and sage. Soon we will be harvesting them for our thanks giving meal. 

There is more to prepping beds but for now I am happy to celebrate turn of another great growing season.  As we build and strengthen our gardening skills every year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Organic Growing - Butternut Squash

During Summer vacation, I was at my newly moved compost unit emptying the compost container with a list of things to do on that day, accidentally, I rest my eye on a somewhat large leaf which belongs to a type of a vine. At that time I had no idea what this vine is going to be. I had a big dirt pile next to the compost unit which I was planning to add to the beds around the house. For a minute I was debating with myself to pull the vine so I can flatten the dirt to build the last raise bed for this summer. Luckily, I had no energy left in me to do such task on this particular summer morning. 

With some mental notes, and to find what this vine growing in our yard I headed indoors before the sun beats the ground. I knew we had a watermelon early summer and I must have dumped the seeds in the compost. I could not help notice the smile on my face thinking we will be growing watermelon this Summer. During that Aha moment, I completely pulled the idea out of my head getting rid of the new found watermelon vine by the compost. 

After few week my dear neighbor was very helpful in identifying this mystery vine which was making its way to our yard from the compost corner. I decided that I am going to let it run WILD oh... yes... it did ran wild, and in return it provided many butternut squashes. I shared few with our neighbors and we enjoyed one too. 

Few tips to keep in mind when you decide to intentionally plant butternut squash...

  • These vines tends to run wild needs a bigger ground space but totally doable in a small yard. 
  • Once it starts to bloom make sure to have some other plants which attracts bees for pollination if not you may need to perform this task.
  • Once the vine start producing butternut squash, check all the veins on the squash have disappeared before harvesting.
  • If there is more crop, try to cut back the leaves. Because, it will allow the sun to shine on these beauties. This process will help the crop to mature and turn its color from light green to a pale yellow.
  • Once you harvest the crop let it sit for at least few weeks before preparing it (this resting period is called curing)

We will definitely add a vine to our garden next year as well, since we enjoyed it very much this year. It does adds its own charm to the backyard gardening! Do you plant vines in your garden. Do you plan to incorporate them during early planning season of your yard. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Purple Cabbage & Having an Idea for lunch!

Having an idea for lunch is organizing oneself. At least that is how I see my self. I have been not much organized lately because of busy weeks. Usually I am good at making meals for my family but not necessary for myself which is bad story to begin my lunch. 

I received two small heads of purple cabbage from a neighboring gardner. I am not a big fan of this vegetable. I am more like a white cabbage girl, because that is what I grew up with. I was at my DR.s recently for regular check ups and to keep up with seasonal allergies. I always read their healthy food magazines and this recipe caught my eye and was an easy pick for my lunch. 

I basically had everything recipe calls for only substitute was the white potato instead of purple potato. I have not snipped the chives from the garden yet but they seems to be in good shape. 

Cook the potatoes in a pot with salt, skin, and sliced them. Cube the cabbage and set a side. In a glass bowl mix in mustard seeds, chives, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix in all together and enjoy!

I loved it because it was a time saver, money saver, and more than anything a meal at lunch time. I need to take care of my self more often. how do you plan for your lunch breaks. Do you make your own meals or run for a cup of coffee. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Remnant of a Fall Garden

New Englanders were warned of a substantial temperature drop. The change of schedule for planned activities and the buzz for Halloween mix in the air with misery weather is not what teachers wished for this week. 

As I headed home with my little one who was swelled with Halloween excitement, demanding that I should bake cookies with candy for all the teachers at school including myself was bit of overwhelming. 

When I come home from school we do not have much time outside since the day light time is winding off. We also notice the garden is getting ready to be dormant. We do not have much admiring in ouy yard since the leaves are taking over the dying flower beds. 

The little bit of garden still offer us a bit of a calmness before we head inside for supper. Little Nicolette and myself was happy to find solace among rose shrubs. The brocciflowers were in bloom since we have not harvest them. We watch how bees are being a bit lethargic in collecting and moving around flowers. Our time we spent in the yard getting shorter but looking forward towards Fall.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lunch box ideas Fall 2013

Having lunch and dinner ready for at least the first few days of week is not fun when I am in school. Especially, when it becomes my responsibility and falls on my to do list. I try to see the brighter side that everyone in the house is fed and happy at the end of the day. Also it help us to work on our projects during week. 

How do you tackle this, Do you make the lunches ahead, or the previous night and place it in the refrigerator. I have a fun story I like to share with you. I had a close friend who was a teacher and would pack lunch the night before. She would packed four lunches including hers. Her wonderful husband would comea home after work and would eat her lunch not FUN! This has not happen at ours yet, but it does not mean it is not possible. 

This is one of my lunch box ideas, meat, vegetables, and pasta. You cannot go wrong I have include all major food groups. Of course, I will add fruits and cheese to this lunch as a dessert. This is a great pasta dish I would recommend using a neat pasta sauce like basil tomato, or roasted garlic with peppers. I have a cross country runner and a little girl who is very picky when it comes to vegetables!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apples and Canning...

The canning has become a another part of cooking in my routine. I had few apples left from the apple picking and I bought few pounds from the grocery store since it was on sale. My new found skill in canning have helped to be save the fruits from our garden for the dreadful winter we experience in New England. I decide to make apple sauce, I am not a big fan of apple sauce but our children are. However, I found out different apples may take few minutes extra to cook. 

Mine first batch of apple sauce was a very simple. I wanted to experience the process of making apple sauce. 

The process of cooking and using the food mill to puree, to make the sauce, and then cooking the sauce back was FUN. After a long day at work it was satisfying for me to make the apple sauce and can it,because I know we will be using all of the Summer and Fall  bounty during the winter months. Besides, the apple butter we now have applesauce as well, not much but enough to enjoy as a snack or to mix in with oatmeal!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tomato Story

Late crop of tomato has been sitting in my wire basket for almost two weeks few of these guys have been rotting in the basket, which I hate to see. One reason for this rotting was I needed 5 pounds to make a batch of tomato jam and I was shy of about a pound. My kind neighbor saw me raking our tomato plants and walks in with a concern face. I explained to him my challenge, he kindly said I think I have some ripe tomatoes.

Within few minutes he walks in with few pounds of tomatoes. I promise him a bottle of tomato jam and I was in business for making a small batch of tomato jam. 

I have to admit this jam is a cross between a chutney and a very thick ketchup but tastes great. after canning the last jar I wiped the pot clean with a dinner roll. It smells and tastes great too!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


October brings so much to the table, I might say, I had much to do with September. Well, September went really fast busyness of schools, brings in adjusting to schedules but still making attempts to enjoy the last bit of Summer. That is exactly we have been trying to do enjoy the outside as much as we can. I still have a long to do list. I have two  flower beds to attend which includes digging out some beautiful summer annual bulbs. Three raised beds to clean and build one before frost. We will having total of four raised beds next summer. More canning and sprouting into exploring more new varites of vegetables with our kids!

Garden is still producing, during busy evening, when I pull the car over to park by the garden beds, I still see few bees humming by flowers. I bet they want to suck all the honey they want for winter. This reminds me of this coming spring I need to add at least one bug/bee house, this could be a winter project for me. Garden is getting ready to go dormant. My little garden has worked so hard and offered me an abundance of vegetables, my trips to the grocery store has been cut down significantly. 
This summer, our garden took an indirect step to teach me how to can. I have been busy canning my tomatoes and the summer abundance.

October, brings a nice cool breeze with a hint of chill in the air. I might take on few garden jobs this Columbus day weekend. By the way do you know two cities had been named after Christopher Columbus, One is in the state of Ohio, and the other is in the state of Georgia a FUN fact!

I have a long list I like to accomplish this long weekend. Since, I have been, not feeling under the weather. October, throws the allergy season as well with its spectacular leaf show!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creative room, Art work!

I finally hung the piece I bought from the thrift store. After many attempts of painting over the the frame, I was able to add a bit of color to this old embroidery piece. I love the yellow field there is so much of detail in this piece which I love. the Flowers are beautiful and the colors does add a unique touch!

I have a modern piece I bought from Target on the opposite side of the wall. In way they do compliments each other! I want to make a collage of frames but I am not sure if I want to stick one color for the frames or mix them up!

What do you think? Do you think I should incorporate other textured frames or keep it neutral?