Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jam spatter and tomato juice

I did not disappear, I did not run away, I have not been kidnapped by giant Zucchinis, I didn't get strangled by disgruntled Nasturtiums and I didn't drown in a giant pot of raspberry jam.....that was a near miss, there is a lot of jam in this house, more than any one human being should ever have. There was one heck of a mess in my kitchen, two weeks later I am still finding jam splatter in places.

This is one of my favorite recipes, raspberries, saskatoons, a banana or two, strawberries if you have (I didn't this time) add a sweetener, I like honey but was out so I used brown sugar, add some vanilla (lots, love love vanilla) mash with a potato masher and put into jars and's that simple. Put some on ice cream, on a pound cake, on an angle food cake, on your pancakes, on crepes......or invent something new to eat it with.....please let me know I have 15 pints in my freezer.

Why such a mess if the recipe is so simple you ask? I have no idea what happened

There was a wee bit of raspberries left over so I just put in little baggies and into the freezer, there may be a cobbler or a raspberry coffee cake or 2 in my future........or 10

I also made some raspberry juice, also very easy. Pack raspberries into quart jars and then fill the jar with vinegar, cover and let sit on the counter for 24 hours (or 36 like I did) squeeze it through cheese cloth, or a colander like I did and all the seeds came through too...oh well, cheese cloth next time. Measure your liquid and put into a big pot and add equal amount of sweetener (I like honey or brown sugar and I don't do equal amount....I do not have a sweet tooth) then bring it to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes (or so) and put into jars and freeze or put in a hot water bath (Like I do because my freezer is getting full) This is very concentrated, when mixing with water just taste and mix as you like it. This is a very pretty bright red juice and might be good with vodka ..... just saying is all. 

There are no pictures of the jam, maybe because my camera got lost in the messy kitchen or maybe because by the time my jam was done the place just didn't look very picturesque at all, but there are 19 1/2 pints of raspberry jam in my pantry. Somebody needs to eat a lot of jam around here, I don't even like jam, I would not ruin my toast with jam. From now on no body leaves my house without a jar of jam. So why do I make jam if I don't even like it? I have a source for free raspberries and I am German, and my people do not ever let food go to waste and we like hoarding food like no body's business, and I like making jam, and it impresses people and it's so so so pretty. Is that enough ands for you.....mostly I make jam because I have some friends that love jam and I love gifting them some jam. Jam is a pretty gift.

Then, the lady at the greenhouse had an abundance of ripe tomatoes and so my German hoarding bone (different than the funny bone) took over again and I came home with two bags of ripe tomatoes and made tomato juice, my version of V8.

Tomatoes cut into quarters, about 3 stalks of celery and some dried chili peppers (I only brought home about 89 lbs of them from Mexico...the hoarding bone thing again) I bubbled it on the stove for some time and put through cheese cloth (no seeds this time) and hot water bathed for some time. I must say I got the chili amount just right, it has just the right amount of kick to it. Salt the rim of a chilled glass and dunk in a celery stick and oh my......lovely. Might be good with beer...just saying is all. 

Lovely tomato juice in my pantry
Now, lets go for walk in my garden

Beans, corn and squash living very happily together...really together

There will be pumpkin in my freezer this winter.....and I won't be here, seems like my planning is a bit off

The pumpkin and squash fence

The squash made it to the top of the arbor

I also have a little garden at the golf course and my radishes there are almost as big as ..... golf balls of course.

The little garden on the 11 th tee box , squash, zucchini, pumpkin, corn and's a vegi jungle 

I dug my garlic out, note to self....plant more next year

How big do my tomatoes want to get before they start turning red? 

This sunflower has hit the roof

I love my pea fence, peas, sweet peas, dill, some onions (got smothered) and the ever so bossy Nasturtiums

The peas never made it into the house, I just picked a bowl full and then sat outside and ate them. 

I've discovered that I am not the traditional gardener that my people are, the Germans like having everything in nice orderly straight rows, but I love to see my tomatoes tangled up with my cucumbers with some bossy nasturtiums poking through

A beautiful tangled bed

more tangled cucumbers and tomatoes

The view from my kitchen makes me smile
For some reason my pictures are a bit blurry this week, maybe because it all went so fast. August seems to be in a rush to get it over with. I have to admit that this rush gardening is tiring. When you live this far north you are always trying to push your garden faster than the pages of the summer calender pages and August is the last page, if we are lucky the garden could survive into September...lucky. I tend to just want to give up by mid August but then I know my fresh vegetable lunches at work would be over so I have my old sheets ready to start covering if needed, most of the tomatoes and peppers are safe in the greenhouse but most of my squash is not ready to harvest just yet.
As the summer comes to an end I start getting lonesome for my home on Stone Island and my Mexican friends, I start thinking of tacos more and more. I start making a to "do list" and a "to bring" list I start listening to Mexican music and reading in Spanish more. I also start to think about knitting, as knitting is a winter thing for me, I am itching to start a knitting project. I have an old favorite wool sweater than needs to be repaired. I've had it for year and it is starting to unravel at places. This sweater rides on the seat of my tractor at work almost everyday, it hasn't been washed in years for fear it will fall apart but it will not survive another season unless I give it some love.

Can you just feel how cozy this sweater is, it is like my security blanket. 

I love love the feeling of being all wrapped in a big wool sweater, I just love that the wool I am wearing was once on a sheep, it's liking hugging a sheep all day. Wool is just so real and pure. I would like to always wear wool but it can get too hot....even way up here. This sweater was always too big, the neck was always to open for me and I have always wanted to rip it and reknit it into a more snugger fitting sweater with a turtle neck instead of the wide open neck, I think it would be warmer if it was snugger, I've just never taken the time to take that project on, the thought of ripping it is kind of daunting to me, in some places it has almost felted already. This is a project I always start thinking of this time of year....will it be just thought again or will it actually happen this year?

Just in case you are thinking that everything is wonderful on my little urban farm I will show you some  rotten tomatoes,  I seem to have some bottom end rot...again. It's lack of calcium in the soil or inconsistent watering from what research (goggling) I've done. I am feeding my dirt egg shells and have been very faithful with consistent watering this tell me why this is happening again?