Pizza Sauce and other tomato canning

Today was another day of working on the tomatoes. I looked back and the last post on tomato work was done on Oct. 2, 2017 and I wrote out the soup recipe at that time. I think today’s soup was much better, but that is probably my opinion. Today we took every last ripe tomato off the table, out of the boxes and out of the sleds. There is a post back someplace in this past month that shows how we were running out of space to store the tomatoes that were picked but not quite ripe, and so we grabbed the long plastic sleds from the garage and used them. It was a great way to transport them too.

I am happy to report that by the end of today, the sleds have been emptied and all of the tomatoes are in the house on the extra table under newspapers waiting to ripen. So far we have not had to throw very many away, which is nice. Each year several spoil with the ripen them in the house method, but the alternative is to allow them to freeze outside and they are all lost. I think this is a better idea.

So, I should have done this canning yesterday, but after Thursday’s marathon of house cleaning, I was not moving too well. Today we also had one extra hand as Paulina was home. I started the day with a batch of bread but that didn’t turn out so well this time. Paulina ended up cutting it into cubes and tomorrow she will brown them into croutons. We will see how that turns out. I tried it one other time with very little luck, but knowing her it will be great.

When we were finished with the tomatoes today, we had 5 quarts of juice, 4 quarts and 1 pint of soup, and 16 half pints and 3 pints of pizza sauce. This is the biggest batch we have done this year. James and I figure we should be at about 3 or 4 more times of processing tomatoes before the year is over. As for the soup recipe, it is on the post from Oct. 2. I looked and looked for my recipe for the pizza sauce and could not find anything. I looked at the single jar of it left in the pantry and found I had done those in 2015, so I was sure that I had posted it on the blog, but no luck there. I finally went to the Ball Blue Book and checked, and the only thing I could find was tomato sauce, so we went with that.

Truthfully, I have come up with my own concoction based on what I know about canning. The issue is that I never have a firm handle on how many ounces or pints or gallons of tomato liquid I am dealing with when I start. It is always sort of a hit or miss sort of thing. I wish that I had a way to measure the level of acid in what is in the pot, but I usually add lemon juice just to be sure of hitting enough acid to prevent any sort of spoilage or sickness.

Soup, pizza sauce and juice. The bottom of the sign says “seasoned with love”

For this sauce, which turned out to be 5 1/2 quarts of liquid, I used 1/8 cup of canning salt, not quite 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, about 1 Tablespoon of garlic salt and 1/2 cup of Italian seasoning. We used only Roma tomatoes for this batch. Throughout the entire process I kept pouring off the runny liquid and blended and sieved out the seeds of that and poured it into jars until we had exactly 5 quarts. Paulina peeled the Roma tomatoes, while I peeled the Celebrity and the Big Boys. Those that I peeled were blended separately and put into their own stock pot to make the soup. I also took the liquid off the ones I peeled, and added it to the juice. I think this is the first year that I have planted the Celebrity variety, and I find them to be a bit sweeter. The juice from them has been fantastic. I hope to plant more of them next year and a few less of the Romas, though they produce so much better. Actually for me the Big Boys don’t seem to produce very well, but I probably don’t feed them as much as they need. I will have to try some different methods with them. I also might try rotating where the stands go. I have some stands that seem to always grow smaller plants. I wonder if it has something to do with the medal that they leach into the soil? I guess that is enough of my tomato making story for one day. I need to get to working on my message for tomorrow. The gospel scripture is on rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Not sure how to drag that out for 10 minutes, but I will have to find something. Catch you later!!

A Day in the kitchen

All the breads

I knew it was going to be warm out today, but I also knew that there was a whole list of items for me to do inside, so I started early with the idea that I might make it outside later. So, later did not happen yet. Mainly I wanted to get the apples off the counter, but instead I started with making bread. Since I knew the oven would be where I would want to set the loaves of bread to rise, I wanted the oven hot baking something, so the day began with making banana bread. A double batch turned out 1 large loaf and 3 small ones, 2 with walnuts and one with chocolate chips for James. Next came the regular bread, 2 large loaves and 1 mini just for fun. While the banana bread was in the oven and the other bread was rising on the stove top, I peeled the mini potatoes boiled in their skins to make fried potatoes and green beans for supper.

Pie tastes better than it looks according to my husband, hurrah!

Apple sauce on the stove.

About when I thought I should be taking a break, I began to peel the small, somewhat not so good apples. This is the second batch of them, and apparently the first of what we picked. Most of these were salvaged off the ground and by many standards might have been tossed. I decided to do up what I could. The only bad thing about that set of apples was the paring knife I was using. I think I could whittle a wooden knife out of the wood in the shed stacked up for fire pitting, and I would have an easier time peeling. Oddly it is my left hand that hurts instead of my right that did most of the work. Apparently I do more with my left than I know. I ended up making a pie with them, which is ok, but I need a little practice on the crusts. I had more apples than the pie needed because I went through the batch of good apples and also peeled the smallest of them and any that had bad spots. I put the extra of what I peeled into a kettle and boiled them down into apple sauce and ended up with 1 quart and 1 cup, which I am enjoying as I type this. I added about 1/4 cup of lemon juice,  1/2 cup of apple juice and 1/2 cup of white sugar to the apples then put them on the stove on medium heat to boil down. Just wish I had some whipped cream in a can to add to this. There is nothing so delicious as hot apple sauce topped off with whipped cream.

About the time I was finished with the pie and ready to take a break James came home. He decided that he needed a hair cut and since the beautician is located right beside the campsite, which needs a final mowing for the season, he decided to drive across town with the mower and take care of both before supper. While he was gone, I cut the potatoes into the fry pan and added a small bag of frozen beans from the garden this summer with some butter and let it set to wait for him to return. Then I finally got to work on the part of the apples that was my original intent of the day. Boy talk about procrastination.

Slicing apples

In the dehydrator

My all time favorite thing to make with apples is dehydrated apples. I sprinkle a little cinnamon on them and sometimes put a little lemon juice on them before they go on the dehydrator. I could eat them all day, and really need to be careful to get enough liquid when I do eat them. James does not like them because he dislikes the texture of dried things. I think that is why I like them because of the texture. At any rate, I also really enjoy making these. I have an apple corer from Pampered Chef and that works so well. I also enjoy the rhythm of using the slicer or mandolin as I understand it is technically called. I have some family members who do not like it so much because they think it is dangerous. Again, mine is not real sharp and for some that might pose a problem, but I am used to how it operates and so we get along pretty well. I also know about when to switch from doing it by hand and using the sliding piece. When I had the bowl filled, I stopped to check home many would fit in the dehydrator. I actually had a few too many, which was great for me.

Eating the extra’s reminded me of sitting and watching my Grandma Freda make apple pie. She would peel the entire apple usually in one long peel. I would pick those up from her and eat them. After she had the apple peeled she would cut it in quarters and core it then slice it straight into the pie crust. She made the best pies ever, and it didn’t matter the flavor. Man I wish I had taken notes and kept better track of what she did. Perhaps it would be good to keep practicing, but basically it is too late for me. I am too old to start now to ever get to her standards.

Well enough of all this for one day. I am about tired and tomorrow I have a long day and evening at church. Happy Fall or Spring Gardening to you all as the case may be!!!

Declaring war on clutter, sort of!

The view from my bed of the east side of the room.

Looking at the southwest corner from the sewing machine

I am a little hesitant to add the pictures that go with this particular post. Frankly I am embarrassed at the way certain rooms in my house look. I have always said our house is for living, not for show, but I am not so sure that I have not slipped into existence rather than living. It is time to move closer to the issue of functional and enjoyable living. Now that you have this as the background, I will show you the “before” pictures of my bedroom, without the bedroom part in the picture. Just know this room should have been a family room instead of a bedroom. It is really large and I believe that is why it has become such a dumping ground.

I refuse to do a total an irreparable purge of all that I own, let’s just get that out there front and center. I refuse to throw everything that I have accumulated throughout my life. If it was valuable once, it is worth considering before it goes out the door. And, let’s be even clearer on the matter, nothing is going into the landfill unless it is absolute junk.

I am sharing this as a way to motivate myself. I hope to be able to update weekly or when something major is accomplished. I have a long list of what to do to get this in order. Yesterday I began by locating my tub of winter clothing. I thought that I had all my sweaters in the drawer until I was shopping and remembered what was missing. As I emptied all of the winter clothes, I went through my closet and put all the completely summer items into the tub including all my cropped pants and sleeveless shirts. I also took out all of the sleeveless dresses and re-hung the skirts so that it all looks neater. I also found the scarves that I bought this summer in Baltimore. I will have to figure out how to wear them. I think my next step in the closet is to identify which items need to be removed permanently. I just need to figure out where they are going, then they can be gone. Ya!!!

My next issue besides getting rid of all the produce in the kitchen/dining room and garage is doing some cleaning around here. I eliminated several of the dust bunnies hiding under the bed and tables and even did all the laundry and bedding. It was nice enough outside that I could hang out the bedding, and oh was it wonderful to snuggle under sheets that have the fresh smell of outdoors. I have not touched the windows. My sisters and I plan to do a little cleaning in our joint houses later this week. One of the things on their agenda is windows. I told them that I have never done windows and at my age I am unable to learn anything new. I hope that works for me through the weekend. Maybe I will end up cooking for the group, but that will be fine. I am working on bread again today, but that will be another post.

Well, I will get off the computer and get to work; Happy Fall to all of you!!!

When Daddy Fell Into The Pond… — Carrie On Happy

Hey I just wanted to re-blog this wonderful story. It looks just like something I would have so enjoyed reading to my children and even more so to my grandchildren. I think Jaxon and I would have had a great laugh together about this poem. Hope you all enjoy and give a shout back or a like to the original author of this post. Thanks so much to Carrie On Happy for putting this out there in the first place.

Undoubtedly one of my favourite books as a child was the Ladybird book of Bedtime Rhymes…full of fun little dittys which made me chuckle, wonder and above all else happy. My favourite was ‘When Daddy Fell Into The Pond” by Alfred Noyes I defy anyone to read this or have it read to them and […]

via When Daddy Fell Into The Pond… — Carrie On Happy

Idols and Refusing God’s Invitation

Here is the message I shared on Sunday, October 15, 2017. The scriptures were: Exodus 32:1-14, Isaiah 25:1-10a and Matthew 22:1-14. I had another one listed, but saved its reading until the end of the message so it is printed there. The title in the bulletin was, “Called/Chosen.”

Today we are taken back to another parable that puts a bad light on the Israelites. The passage in Matthew 22 that we read for today on the surface is about a King throwing a wedding feast for his son and no one wants to come. This story seems to go against the idea of weddings in the time of Jesus. A wedding feast by a wealthy family would involve lots of food and festivities and would likely go on for days. It was a big deal and people would make sure to be there if not to only to celebrate the wedding, but to have an opportunity to take part in the feast and hopefully build or strengthen some important ties with the one throwing the celebration. Come to think of it, some of that might still hold true today.

The allegory, the deeper meaning behind the parable, is the idea that God has chosen the Israelites to be his people. He is basically inviting them to the wedding feast of eternity in heaven, the opportunity to be his heirs forever, and they reject the invitation, they reject the idea of being with God. And worst of all they do more than turn their backs and ignore the invitations, they do some evil things to the servants sent with the invitations, and the scripture tells us that God did retaliate on those originally on the invitation list. Thus God sends his servants, his prophets, his own son eventually to call anyone and everyone else to come to the feast, to join at the table (an idea we celebrate as the table of Holy Communion—which we participated in last Sunday). God also invites us, all of us to come and participate in this wedding celebration.

The other major part of our discussion today is that business in Exodus where the Israelites get tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and they insist that Aaron make them a God to worship and Aaron obliges by taking all their gold and melting it down and making a golden calf which they call Baal to worship.

First off in this story, I want to know what is wrong with Aaron. Is he that much of a wimp that he can’t convince the people to just chill a little? The readings that I did this week were far more sympathetic of the people of Israel than I had ever heard messages spoken in the past. I have pictures in my head of this story that involve dancing and music and people doing all sorts of immoral things in relation to celebrating this god, this idol, Baal. The more I think about it, I might be thinking of the old Hollywood version of The Ten Commandments. In light of some of the stories coming from that area lately, I won’t add any comments here.

If we look closely at the wording of the passage in Exodus 32, we see just two things that would give a Hollywood producer this idea. One is the verse where it says after the calf was made, they gathered up items for a thank-offering then sat down to eat, and after they ate, they got up to revel. Later there is a verse where God tells Moses to hurry down the mountain because the people have gotten involve in perverse actions.

The commentary from the Sermon Seeds on the UCC website suggests that the people should not be judged so harshly, at least not by us. The author mentions several theologians who see the Israelites in the desert without Moses as being scared, terrified even. They have been wandering about for years, almost going in circles, and they don’t know what is coming next then their leader who has been their go-between always interpreting the words of God for them, is just gone. He goes up the mountain and there is no word, no message, no communication of any kind, and they are worried that he is not coming back.

They are a lost people, and they just want some sort of proof that God exists and that God will be there for them. They want a structure a solid piece of something to let them know that even without Moses, they will be cared for and protected. I suppose that is not anymore than any of us want in our lives: Proof that we are loved and cared for and protected. Let’s see how does that hierarchy of needs chart go that we learn in education? First is the basic needs of food and shelter, second is safety needs, third there is the need for belonging and love.

The Israelites were so worried about what they would do without Moses, without their leader that they reacted badly. They were so caught up in their own issues, that they turned their backs on the one God who was with them in all things. And in their turning away from God, they got involved in idol worship. They turned to something else to be their God. I have to ask myself, how different am I from those Israelites? How different are we from those Israelites?

This historical accounting of the actions of the Hebrew people when they are in the desert between escaping slavery at the hands of the Egyptians and finally finding their homeland, and the parable that tells about all of the people who reject the invitation of the king who is throwing a wedding feast for his son are not that far off from each other and from the actions of ourselves and those around us. We all have our own idols that prevent us from worshiping the one true God. We all have excuses and reasons not to accept the invitation of the King and join in the wedding celebration of his Son and the church, we the church. Even those of us who are faithful church goers have our days, even those of us who are here faithfully each week, we have times when we are not quite sure, when life doesn’t seem just in line, and we get worried about what will we do without our Moses to guide us and interpret for us, and how can we possibly do it ourselves? We need something real, something to give us security and safety. We need our idols, to feel like God is here. Right?

Actually we shouldn’t need idols, but I am afraid we probably all have had some along the way in our lives. Now as we hear and use the word idol, we often, I at least, would think that doesn’t pertain to us. We don’t have statues in our churches, on our public places, in our homes that we bow to like some ancient people did or maybe some still do. We don’t have that, so why do we even consider that sort of thing in a church message today?

It seems our idols are a little different in nature. Our idols are not really those statues that you bow to, but more the sort of thing that takes up our time and our thoughts and blocks our ability to have a real and personal relationship with God. We become too busy for God or the actions we are asked to do for God: love our neighbors as ourselves sort of thing because we have these “idols” taking up our time. Of course the one thing that most people believe is the ultimate idol in our time is money. We spend so much time chasing around after wealth for the sake of financial security that we don’t even realize that we are doing it. Perhaps what we need to consider is what we do with our wealth, our form of riches. Do we use it to care for those who are truly in need? Do we share what we have, even if it is a cup of cold water? There are lots of other things that can be our idols in this day and time. Maybe it is the job or the business that we pursue to get this wealth?

Maybe it is the leisure activities—whatever their natures that prevent us from any sort of time to spend in worship or in devotion or in prayer talking to and listening to God. The question for us today is probably not obsessed, but perhaps with what are we so consumed that we don’t have time to work at our own relationship with God? What do we have in our way that makes it impossible or even just a little difficult for us to know the peace of Christ that peace that surpasses everything else? What did we hear in the verses from Isaiah today? We heard about the great power of God to destroy evil, to shelter those in need and to wipe away every tear from our eyes. Why or what could we possibly find in our lives to prevent us from having a relationship with someone who promises to do that for us?

I want to give you one last thing today. At the end of that parable it mentions that when the servants went back to the streets and invited all of the commoners to the feast, to the wedding—which in essence meant the Gentiles, the non Israelites, what includes us too, after they came and the banquet hall was filling up, the King came and noticed that one of those who had been called came to the banquet, but did not ready themselves as expected, and that person was not allowed to stay. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Harsh words! It was sort of like a formal event, and the person came in jeans. What the king, what God was looking for what God is looking for is someone who when they accept God’s invitation they make the effort to develop that relationship with God through worship and study and prayer.

My best comparison is to a sports team, many are called to participate, but only a few are chosen to get on the field. To be part of the team line up, the ones who actually play, you have to work at it. Having a relationship with God is something we should always be working at. Putting aside our idol worship, putting aside the things that prevent us from having that intense personal relationship with God takes an effort. What I am trying to explain  is that there isn’t anything about our lives that we shouldn’t be able to stop and take a time to share it with God in prayer. There isn’t anything too trivial, too silly, too personal that God doesn’t hear us and care about us. But we have to put aside whatever it is that is preventing us from going there. And I believe that God answers us, we just have to be looking and listening to hear those words. Now let us close with the words that Paul left for the Philippians in chapter 4:4-9. Read it.

God wants us to put aside the idols that are preventing us from accepting the invitation sent for us. I hope we are able to do that so we too can enjoy that great feast that has been prepared with us in mind. Amen.

What, More yarn? and In progress items

So we have one more night of knotting quilts in church then we are finished for good. We had a stack of quilt tops in the basement that were just left from the ladies group when they disbanded. It must have been there for 2 or 3 years before the secretary and I revived the idea of finishing them. I sort of understood the concept of what we had to do to put the top to a back and add a piece of filling, but I didn’t totally have the routine figured out. Fortunately the secretary was getting into the quilting world, and she got us set. Next we added the rest of the congregation men and women, and a few of the former quitters came out, and then for three years we joined together for 4 nights each year to do what we could. Now we are down to the last year with the last of the tops. It will be great to have them all finished and given to someplace that will benefit from having them. We will feel good about giving them, will have more room to do something else in the space, and we also had some great times working together.

shell pattern

So, the issue with the yarn pictured above is that instead of using that sort of yarn, I brought my skinny crochet yarn and that is what we used to tie up the blankets. Because I brought my yarn, I was able, or maybe the notion is I had to take the other yarn. I have not removed it from the boxes and I plan to make at least one blanket with the small balls of yarn. I will probably use the shell stitch that I always use and try to match the dimensions of a lap robe. Maybe it will give my fingers something more constructive to do than to play Gummy Drop with every waking moment. At any rate, I have started on another beanie with a blue and a white skein. I have pictured that work in progress off the side. Happy knitting to you all!!

Sunrise and definitive proof of fall

Leaves on the ground.

A few days ago I posted a picture of the ash trees all dressed up in their orange and yellow leaves. Yesterday when we came home from school the leaves were all on the ground as the trees had emptied themselves for winter, I forgot to take a picture of the later until last evening just before is got too dark. I was upstairs in my room getting ready to sit down to watch the latest episode of the 13th season of The Voice, and I stepped outside to take this picture first. This would be a great weekend to have grandchildren over to the house, but instead we are all busy running one place or another. It is also getting harder and harder to just pack up either set of them and drag them to this place for a weekend. Hopefully by the time James and I are 81 and 80, it will be easier to transport them than us. We also have not made any headway in our efforts to move things around here to open up more room for overnight guests. Maybe this winter when we have nothing better to do in the dark of night. HA! I am sure by that time we will be baking something or canning something else or even putting out the seedlings for the garden next summer. This past week has been one of picking the rest of the garden and dragging everything inside to the house or garage or wherever it fits, which means the van gets to stand outside like an unloved child.

We made a little room on the table inside the house after when we did the last batch of tomatoes on Monday night. We started as soon as we got home and ended the evening fairly early–8:30 ish. The results were: 1 qt and 1 pint of juice, 4 qts. of spaghetti sauce and 3 qts. of soup, plus a 3/4 filled qt of each of those last two. Those have been put in the fridge and will have to go to the top of the menu real soon. I don’t understand quite how they happened. I measured out the spaghetti sauce into a quart jar before putting them into a kettle. Perhaps that reduces as you warm it. Learned something there. As for the soup, I wasn’t quite sure on that, and I should have known it would expand with the additions of butter, sugar (that always adds volume) and then the flour for thickening.

As I sit at the kitchen table to write this the sun is streaming through the east window nearly blinding me. I have been sneaking peeks at it rising almost like a space ship at lift off. It’s rays are so intense this morning they seem to blur in the cool fall morning. Interestingly, the winds came up with the sun. I was outside earlier to take these pictures of the pre-sunrise, and I don’t remember being bothered by a breeze. By the way they are in order as you see them from left to right.

Sunrise 10-11-17

Later I stepped out onto the east deck to snap the final shot (and the door closed and locked behind me, and I did not have on the large coat I wore earlier) I saw the branches moving on the trees then felt the wind as I ran around the house to get to the garage door and inside. All in all, it is a very pretty morning her in the northern part of South Dakota. I pray today for those recovering from the hurricanes, the earthquakes and now going through the horrors of the wildfires in California. May God see fit to bring them some rain to quench the demons racing through that area. I think we will be singing “Showers of Blessing” this Sunday in our way of asking God for some respite.

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