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!!!

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.

A little garden work on Sunday

Sunday we really had intended to take the day off from the garden. We picked all the tomatoes on Saturday and had a pile of rubbish in the wheelbarrow waiting to be taken away to the compost pile, and so we were just going to chill after we had lunch. Everyone was headed in different directions after church and so we went home to eat and rest. I sent a pint of the applesauce I made on Saturday home with Melissa for Carson. I told her to have him add some sugar because it is a little sour. He was busy working on a paper for school, so hopefully he was able to take a little time and have a treat.

Well, about 3 p.m. the time of rest at our place was over. James decided that we might get a freeze this week, and he wanted to make sure the onions were pulled because they could freeze in the ground as it is going to drop pretty low, or so the prediction seems to be indicating. The carrots and the beets were left in the ground because a good frost only makes them sweeter. I am guessing they come out on Thursday.

Sophia getting ready to be carried to the garden.

Today, we took the wagon, the potato fork and Sophia along with us to the garden. We closed the gate behind us and let Sophia run while we worked. She never is allowed outside unsupervised since she had the hypothyroidism diagnosis. She can’t take the pills and so is on a strict diet, which means she isn’t allow to eat any other cat food or human food or rodents. Of course since the neighbor cats hunt our area and the hawk frequents the back yard, there have not been any rodents. Hurrah!!

Pumpkins!!

So, much to our chagrin about the wagon to carry the plethora of onions we would dig out. There was barely a small basket of them to pick. The cosmos grew up and around them so intensely that most of the onions were smaller than the seed onions we planted to begin with. So much for that idea. We did, later, go back outside and cover the one remaining tomato plant, then we clipped and brought in the pumpkins. It was a good idea and they are quite ready to be picked. Now just to wash them and set them in the house as decoration. I am not putting them outside to freeze. I didn’t plant them and am quite happy to have them as volunteer produce. I don’t know why I would jeopardize keeping them. They are currently in the garage safe and sound under the table holding that vast array of onions (all 24 of them). That number is just a wild guess. We planted 100 each of white, yellow and purple. I guess in the future, I agree to pull the cosmos as if they are weeds when they are growing up between rows of vegetables of any kind. On the other hand, I have been getting a good crop of cosmos seeds. I wonder if those would be sellable???Hmmm. Who knows they might have a copyright on them. Of course, I have been taking my own seeds for so many years, I wonder if that still counts.

Long day of labor

James and I opted for a Saturday at home. It was supposed to be a day of much needed rest, but instead it was far more labor intensive than we spend during the week as teachers and preachers. I guess. Anyway the issue was to do as much as we could in the garden. I had a really hard time getting started, and in fact thought it would be best to let the tomatoes have as much time on the vine as we could allow today.

James started by digging out the rest of the potatoes. He said it might have been better if we had taken them sooner. It seems that there were worms or slugs or something underground eating on them after it rained. I stayed inside while he was digging and made some vegetable soup. I wanted to use up the carrots in the crisper before we dig out our carrots and store them there. I also had this idea about baking bread.

Opps I almost forgot, in the meantime before I really got going on the bread, I peeled up all of the damaged apples and made a batch of apple sauce. How could I forget about that. It took longer than the bread mess that I have printed out below.

So, here is the bread thing. I used this recipe that Paulina left behind. I misread the yeast amount and by the time I was adding the 4th cup of flour, I knew that something was very wrong. I needed 4 teaspoons and had read it as 1 tablespoon, so I was only off by 1 teaspoon, but something else must have been off. I actually accused her of being another Grandma Freda.

James asked what I meant, and the thing is that my grandmother would never really share any of her recipes because, well she just didn’t. If someone insisted on having her recipe, she would leave something out, or give it just a bit off, so that no one else could do what she did. I remember watching her bake pies and I was never smart enough to write down exactly what she did. No one could make a pie the way she did.

Finished Pretzels

Pretzel dough

OK so now I had this dough, and it was either figure out a way to salvage it or dump it. I know that 95 percent of my family would dump it. I am such a Scrooge that I pondered until I came up with a solution. I know that knepfla dough involves milk and eggs, so I added about 3/4 cup of milk and two eggs them mixed it as best I could. Next I turned it onto a floured board and kneaded it up. I flattened it out and cut it into strips then rolled it into a rope in my hands and made pretzels with most of it and bread sticks with the rest.

Bread twists

strips of dough

For the bread sticks, I sprinkled it with Italian seasoning and garlic salt. I let it rise for a bit, though it really didn’t rise much then I baked it at 350. Sadly I over baked the pretzels, but with a slathering of butter and some sea salt sprinkled on them when they were got out of the oven, they almost tasted like actual pretzels. The flavored bread sticks were quite good with the homemade vegetable soup. It was good dipping either in the hot soup after we came inside from working in the garden.

The tomato harvest

Close to 4 p.m. about when the sun was starting to head for the horizon, James and I went for the tomatoes. I started with the celebrity and the big boy plants. James had a table readied in the garage (the van will have to sit outside until the table is emptied), and we began to fill it. I filled the box seen at the end of the picture and the small section on the table that is covered with papers with the round tomatoes. James started picking the romas. Those seemed to take the longest, but I believe we had 20 plants of them. We filled and refilled and filled some more. I finally asked where the long plastic sleds were, and we filled them too. There is now only the plant beside the pumpkins left to be picked and those are extra-large cherry tomatoes. The small cherries are just going to be left, neither one of us has the inclination to pick them.

Pumpkins and one tomato plant left. Outside of the fence is the wheelbarrow filled with the pulled plants.

We also pulled all of the plants and the cages, except the one that the pumpkin went through. That will stay until Monday night when I pick the three pumpkins. It is supposed to frost really hard that night and by then we hope to have anything of significance inside the garage or the house. I guess the onion will need to be picked tomorrow, but the beets and the carrots are waiting until that frost because it helps sweeten them. Well that was our day…I have a feeling we will both sleep well tonight.

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