Monday, August 11, 2008

50 never looked so good!

Happy birthday, babe!

Canning, part deux

After my first canning exerience, I couldn't wait to go back to the hardware store for more jars, this time I got jelly jars.

Making jam was fairly quick and easy. I made up a batch of peach (for Ricardo) and blueberry (for me) jam.

I had a bunch more tomatoes, and this time I decided to be more ambitious and make tomato sauce. Otherwise known as the magic tomato shrinking process.

I just had to show off my biggest tomato so far, it's a heirloom named "mortgage lifter." The story behind it is that the tomatoes were so big that the farmer was able to pay off his mortgage.

After peeling, coring, seeding and chopping, two big bowls of tomatoes become one.

And they continue to shrink after they're put through the food processer and put on the stove.

In the end after many hours of boiling, I'm left with 2 and a half quarts of sauce. But hey, that's gonna be one heck of a lasagne on Christmas Eve.

And here's my collection, ready for the pantry. I've already been combing the cookbooks for my next experiment.

My latest obsession: canning

Our tomato harvest is starting to become unmanageable, so I've decided to take on canning as my latest project. I've never canned before, but I bought some books, read some websites and got some advice from others. My local hardware store had all the supplies I needed, and I had about 40 tomatoes on hand, so here we go!

I decided to start with tomatoes packed in water because that process seemed a little easier than others. Here are my guinea pigs, ready to be skinned, cored and quartered.

I wasn't sure that giant pot would fit on my stove! The whole process was different than I expected -- more like a science project than a cooking project, but it was very satisfying...

Especially at the end when I ended up with these five beauties!

Friday, August 1, 2008

My favorite spot in the house

Ricardo think's I'm loopy, but I love our mudroom.

This is my view of the mudroom from the kitchen sink -- I can see my garden out the window. Samantha is my constant companion, and Vince is always lingering around his bowls.

In my mudroom I have hanging veggie baskets, which I'm also using to dry my cayenne peppers. On the wall is a popover pan. The sign says "Beware of hungry cat."

Here are closeups of the measuring spoons and hooks that we got at the ACC Baltimore. They're handmade in Fall River, Mass.

These are my mudroom shelves, loaded down with tomatoes, canning supplies and all my grilling stuff. I have herbs drying in the paper bags.

But maybe my real reason for loving this little room is that it's always home to a cat, or two, and if you're lucky, all three.