Sunday, September 29, 2013


I never could have processed such a huge crop of tomatoes before. 8 quart jars plus used equivalent of another in tonight's spaghetti and meatballs. Tonights sauce used 1/4 paste tomatoes, 1/4 the other clustering tomato that are medium size and 1/2 the Arkansas Traveler's.
 Yesterday I realized the Arkansas traveler pink tomato vines were out of control.  So I tore them down.  I couldn't reach most of the beautiful huge ripe tomatoes. Because the tomato towers had all fell over on top of each other under the weight.
The toppled mess!

At least 4 piles of vines

This was filled with pink when done. Removed green and filled another bucket of just green.

So I wrapped the green in newspaper tonight as well and put in box with an apple. 

But again my new friend!!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, My Bonnie Lies Over the Sea... Won't Someone Bring Back My Bonnie to Me!

My dad used to sing that all the time. When does this get easier?

But I actually started that song thinking about Bonnie's question to me about sugar substitutes. Dr. Jill Carnahan, a former Peoria physician and now residing in Flatiron, Colorado published in her blog about the bad news of artificial sweeteners. Stevia was on good list but Truvia on bad list. Agave nectar which is called for all the time in many of my functional cooking books, hmph, bad list.

This is one of those times I think to myself, geez my brain needs some glucose and sometimes that's going to mean "F#@% it!" But Bonnie is diabetic so WTF is she supposed to do. Well, first of all we consume way to much sugar and fructose, I agree, so cutting back I think is good idea and well I think Bonnie is better off with stevia then aspartame. But that got me wondering about how to extract one's own sugar from the Stevia plant since it's so often better to do it yourself.

In my plans to move my herbs to the front garden I'm not exactly sure which of my plants if any is the stevia plant. BUT it's easy enough to figure out with a taste test. I found this blog about making a sweetener from stevia. The next step of course is how to incorporate into recipes.

And speaking of herb garden progress....

Can't find my edger!!! Picked up all the bricks last week and planned to use this tool and starting putting in the bricks and can't find it anywhere!

I have no idea how I made this picture do all this changing how cool though!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Update on food mills, food strainers, etc...

While that manual food mill made my sauces much smoother it was a ton of work still. So when I saw this Weston Tomato Strainer I thought AH-HA and it was on sale. It was also mentioned on several tomato canning blog posts so I thought this is the one.
I got done so fast with a sink full of tomatoes that were small, fingerling type it blew my socks off. I was able to go from start to sauce in the crockpot in less than an hour. I used the marinara recipe that came with it and was very pleased. Except I didn't cook on stovetop very long. I did start it in my big wok. But then I transferred batches after boiling to the crockpot so I could leave it cooking all day. Then that night I added soy crumbles and some more seasoning to taste, cooked the noodles and Pat said it was the best sauce yet!

Yeah!!!!! I'm all for that when it's easier too. So when wer're back in Peoria I need to make homemade V-8 since i have tons of carrots and celery in the garden this year. 

 I will correct the recipe if I am wrong but as I remember this is what I did.

Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

Since I gather this I prefer these measurements:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 large red onion left in fridge minced
4 carrots, 2 were small the purple and white and 2        orange carrots 1.5-2 inches in diameter and 8          inches long, chopped then minced
7 stalks of celery just cut off leaves then minced
1 tsp heaping or 1 T level of brown sugar (the brown sugar I added to the veggies in oil before tomatoes)
Small sink worth of tomatoes, rinsed, threw out any blemished, rotten, about to rot...ran through Tomato            Strainer and filled largest pyrex glass bowl twice at least
Seasoned to your taste 

So that you have the more standard measurements called for in recipe I'll use those now here.

In the wok, 1/2 cup of olive oil, one cup each of finely chopped/minced red onion, carrots (one purple, one white and 2 orange for fun) and celery (about 7 stalks) cooked for 15 min on medium to low heat in oil to keep from browning. Added a heaping teaspoon that was probably almost a tablespoon of brown sugar. Then put tomatoes through strainer. At first cutting in half but they're so small and oblong started just throwing in whole and worked fine. Filled at least 2 bowls of tomatoes just kept going until it would fill the crock pot. Then added dry basil, thyme and rosemary, and pepper and salt.  Cooked on the 4 hour setting until I was ready to go to work so probably about half an hour then switched to 10 hour and left.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My first badge from!

I finished the course months ago but I suppose it takes them awhile to review and decide if your worthy? Who knows but anyway I got a badge today for the first course I did. And more importantly a discount code for next course!

Which I plan to resume once the outdoors is less hospitable again. It's a great way to chase away the winter blues!

Designing with John Brookes

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shady Side Yard Collage ver. 2.0 or is it 3.0 now?

OK I was tired but still managed to add in the beautiful red Oriental pagodas and Buddha that they have Sheridan Nursery. And I added a weeping Norway Spruce.

Made first batch of Salsa this year

We ate about 1/2 a jar and I put the other half in refrigerator. Canned another pint. Also made avocado and tomatillo dip. It was good marinade for shrimp that went into quesadilla. I'll add recipes tomorrow. Too tired now.