Hello Again!

Happy Fall!

I have been on a bit of a hiatus. For me it is a good thing to do now and then. It is nice to focus on what I am doing and not be so concerned with camera angles while taking pictures and making sure that I am not missing a picture or redoing something just to capture the picture. I am pretty certain that if you blog you can relate to that! So every once in a while I put the camera aside, take pictures just for me and detach just a bit from the electronics.

We have had a full and fun late summer however. Much of me still feels I am in summer. The temperatures are cooler and the fall garden is planted but the summer garden is still producing heavily. So canning and eating summer food is still in the forefront. Canning is on the calendar again this week. Last Tuesday I canned 55 pounds of tomatoes. It makes me so excited to think I will be able to enjoy them all winter long!

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The produce is still coming in!

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I have lots of winter squash coming in now, but no pictures. Like I said, my electronics and I have been working on practicing a little separation.

Kitchen! Yes, kitchen is progressing nicely. Cabinets on the walls now and gorgeous counter tops. I am super excited about the counter space I have now and the big sink!

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And of course life would not bring quite as many smiles without a visit to this little guy!

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I hope you are enjoying the transition of the seasons! What are some of your favs this time of year?

Happy Unleashing into Fall!

FGU

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I love canning tomatoes. I love trying different things with them. I have several ways that are my “tried and true”. But Roasted Tomato Sauce is a favorite. Not just because of how it tastes but because it is EASY. AND easy is my friend this year. I have short periods of time that my stove is plugged in and available since floors and walls are being done in the kitchen. This past Sunday, with no construction folks around, I took to another round of canning. One thing I made was this sauce. Super easy! Here’s how you do it!

Half your tomatoes and pop them on a cookie sheet. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes on 375. No need to peel or season. Just roast.

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Note: These are Granderos which are a type of Roma. I highly recommend adding them to your garden. They just keep going and going and going. I am in Indiana and I just picked another 25 pounds yesterday! (yes on November 2). 

When they come out you can peel them. But like I said I do this because it is easy so for me that means NO PEELING. Yipee!! I throw them in the Vitamix and puree.

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That takes a few seconds. You can see how taxing this process is. 🙂

Then grab your strainer and pour that lovely sauce from the Vitamix into it. Turn your handle a few times and the seeds and remaining peels are removed. Since they have been roasted and pureed this is the easiest thing you will ever do in your strainer!

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Minimal waste. Below pic shows all the waste. AND this is not a large bowl, it is a little cereal bowl to give you some perspective. Easy and efficient. Even better huh?

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Pour the lovely sauce into a pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce. I do not season this sauce. I prefer the sauce plain to season as I use it.

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It is such beautiful sauce.

I add 1/4 tsp citric acid to each jar and add the sauce. I follow my water bath directions to a T. Mine said to process 35 minutes, lid off, wait 5 and remove jars. Follow your directions for safety!

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It is pretty, easy and delicious! If you still have some tomatoes to get through I would encourage you to try this.

Do you have a favorite canning recipe?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #208 and Happy Halloween!

apronFall is official with the coming of Halloween and turning back of the clocks this weekend. I will once again be tempted daily to put the jammies on at 5pm as the darkness approaches. Does the early darkness get to you too?

Deb’s been busy with company and viewing the most incredible fall landscapes out east. Be sure to stop by to see her pretty pictures.

We have been busy trying to extend our season (since it has been a slow one) and we are now reaping our summer harvest and canning in our kitchen that is really torn up. 

Looking outside today it truly looks like a fall day – clouds in the air, some trees still with colors and others have now dropped their leaves. I can tell that November is approaching. I truly love this time of year!

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Since the house is in remodel mode, my interior fall decor is not out, but I have added a couple fun things to look at right outside.

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I must try the canning the Seasoned Tomato sauce from Grow a Good Life that was shared last week. I still have ALOT of tomatoes this will get added to the repertoire.

And I am always a sucker for Mac and Cheese so I MUST try the Mac and Cheese with a kick. Thanks to My Maple Hill Farm for sharing. 

What are you up to? Halloween activities this weekend with family? Fall sightseeing like Deb? Stop by and share. We love reading!

Canning While Remodeling

Our kitchen is in major disarray. No cabinets remain except the one that is holding up the sink. No cabinets mean no counters. The stove gets moved around on a daily basis, so it could be anywhere at any given time.

With the garden slow to produce this summer I have not had to figure out how to preserve and can food. That was a little blessing in disguise, but as I shared recently, we did all that we could to extend our season and the fruits of our bounty are now here and awaiting attention.

With the assistance of a couple carts on wheels from the basement I put together a nice area to can in.

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The long cart is actually longer than my previous counter so I had an added luxury here of space. After I set up everything, I was on a roll.

First came the whole tomatoes. This is just the first round of many to come and it felt so good to be canning after a long summer’s wait. I love the clickity clack of the canner as it comes and stays on a boil.

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I am not sure if it is the late harvest or what the cause, but the tomatoes peeled beautifully this year. Better than years past. Blanching and ice water is my typical process (sometimes I roast them), but the skins literally slid off for me making the process fast. Before I knew it I was done smashing whole tomatoes into jars and they were hanging out in the canner.

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Seven pints came out looking good.

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With that under my belt and my rolling carts working so well, I decided to tackle the tomatillos. We have already had several harvests of these. For those of you that grow these you know that quantity is never an issue! They are pretty prolific. Previously I roasted them with jalapenos and garlic, pureed with some cilantro and we ate it right away and then froze a bunch too. With the canner hot and ready I decided to can this round of them. I still roasted the jalapenos, but not the tomatillos.

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I simmered onions, jalenpenos, tomatillos, red peppers and lots of seasonings. And I mean lots– I thought the cumin said TBL when it actually said tsp in the recipe. Good thing we like it!

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It turned out beautifully- I got 8 1/2 pints and 1 full pint. It smelled so fantastic. I can’t wait to dump some on top of a burrito or quesadilla or eggs.

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I still had a little time left and the canner was still hot and available. I made some terrific chunky Italian tomato sauce and threw it in as well. That produced 7 jars as well I still have a ways to go on the preserving, but I made a good dent! I froze some peppers and put the basil in the dehydrator. All in all and great day! Since my pantry is a bit cluttered right now, I cooled my jars on my currently empty shelves in the dining room area.

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The day gave me hope that even with a kitchen torn up I could figure out how to do this. When our contractor came last night he asked me if it was ok to work. He said his mom did not like movement in the house on canning days. 🙂

Do you like canning? Freezing? Just eating it fresh?

Happy Unleashing!
FGU

Mustard and Canning Peppers???

Mustard and PeppersThis was our last harvest of the summer (almost…). We picked 28 lbs of tomatoes, 11 lbs of green beans and 9 lbs of peppers. I am on a food preserving roll as you can imagine. The canner and I are one…

Well we farmgirls can get a little confident at times can’t we? I did and so much so that I got a little sloppy and negligent.

I had experienced great success with my pepper jelly earlier, so when it came time to pickle some hot peppers, I was feeling in a groove. I rinsed those beautiful cubanellas, jalapenos and serranos off and they were beauties. Bright and bold. I was so proud. I read the part of about wearing the plastic gloves–you know that part about they can burn your eyes or get in a cut. Well, I really wasn’t sure where the gloves were since our house is in major remodel and is in upheaval. And well, I have sliced hot peppers before. And I will just take precautions. NO TOUCHING ANYTHING WHILE I SLICE THESE. So I set the rules, the peppers understood and off we went. Slicing and pushing out seeds. And I did not touch anything. No pain at all any where. I washed my hands thoroughly and admired the peppers.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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While those were processing, it was time to take on the tomatoes. I had water boiling to blanch the skins, I had jars being prepped in more hot water, I had a canner going, I had my kettle on whistling and I started blanching and skinning tomatoes.

OUCH!!!!OUCH!!!!OUCH!!!!

My hands were on fire. You know that feeling that you get when you burn yourself cooking and it will not go away fire? That hot that is not calmed with cool water? Every time I neared a hot pot it got worse.

I HAD PEPPER BURNS! Those little beauties had done me good!

I grabbed my handy burn cream and yes, I went I found my plastic gloves so the acid in the tomatoes would not be in contact. The burn cream did not help however.

Hubby, who is a problem solver, dropped everything and started to google a solution. I continued on with burning hands; I had to get these tomatoes done afterall! A little pain wasn’t going to stop me.

And then he approached and said “put your hands out.”

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Yellow mustard! We don’t even eat yellow mustard since we are seedy and dijon fans. But we keep some on hand for guests. Lucky for me because he told me to rub it all over my hands.

Rub mustard

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And RINSE.

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And MAGIC! The pain was gone. Wow. I had never heard of this DIY cure, but it is a miracle potion that little yellow stuff.  Write this one down or Pin it, but do not forget it.

I did wear gloves for the rest of the day as I had more peppers to do. But my hands feel great.

I do wonder if I am going to feel hubby nibbling on my fingers in the middle of the night. They do smell like mustard and he does like hot dogs; I’m just sayin’.

Happy Unleashing,

FGU

Pizza Sauce- Canning Recipe!

IMG_20141015_094829444If you are still picking tomatoes like me, you may be running out of ideas for canning them. We have lots of tomatoes canned so I started thinking about other things I could do with them.

Since hubby makes a GREAT pizza crust, I thought Pizza Sauce! I knew that I would so appreciate having “ready made” sauce on a busy night with a fresh crust.

First you need about 13 to 15 C of tomato puree. It took me about 16 lbs of tomatoes to yield this.

For  the puree I used two methods in this sauce. I ran 1/2 the tomatoes through a food mill. I don’t have a picture because I was not coordinated enough to take a picture while turning a food mill. I quartered the tomatoes and ran them through.You do not need to skin or seed them as the mill takes care of this. If you don’t have a food mill, you can find an inexpensive one at Meier’s or another store like that. Mine was $20 which was cheaper than any I found on Amazon.

While I was making puree with the food mill, the other half was roasting. To do this, simply cut the tomatoes in half, put them on a cookie sheet and roast at 375 for about 25 minutes. We have a convection oven, so you may need to adjust a bit. They are done with the skins are toasty.

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This is such an easy thing and a bit of a cheat, but you don’t even need to remove the skins. Run them through a blender and you have great puree.

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I poured this puree into the other puree from the food mill and let it simmer for a long time. I mean all day. I went upstairs to my home office to work and it just simmered and simmered. No lid; you want it to thicken. The thickness is up to you. All day simmering gave me the thicker, pizza sauce consistency I wanted.

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After I reached the thickness I wanted, I added 2 tsp of dried Italian Seasoning, 1 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of garlic powder. You can add other types of seasonings if you would like, but make sure they are dried seasonings. In the bottom of each pint jar I added 1/4 tsp. of citric acid. This yielded me 5 pints.

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I processed these in my pressure canner according to directions. Please refer to your canning instructions to insure proper processing. Mine called for 11 lbs of pressure, 25 minutes for pints, and then 10 minutes to rest after the pressure released before removing. You could also water bath these using the instructions that Ball gives for tomato sauce.

The sauce thickened even more after processing and cooling. You can tell by the space remaining in the jars.

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I cannot wait to spread this on a fresh pizza crust on a cold wintery day and taste a little summer.

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

 

Roasted Tomato Sauce- Canning Recipe

San MarzanoI love, love, love tomatoes in the summertime and like I have said lately, I am still in summer. I have so many tomatoes to eat and preserve, I am in heaven. The apples and pumpkins are just going to have to wait on me to catch up!

I have canned a lot of tomatoes as of late and this week I decided to can tomato sauce instead. I have not canned sauce before so I was excited to give this a whirl.

I love roasted tomatoes and thought instead of blanching and peeling the tomatoes to prep them I would roast them.  I had read you can do this and I went about taking this for a run. I had a full Homer bucket of San Marzanos and thought they would make the perfect sauce. I washed them, halved them and popped them on large cookie sheets with the skin side up. No oil or seasonings; just red tomatoes.

I had 3 full size trays and 2 half trays in the oven. Let the roasting begin!

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In Oven

They roasted so beautifully.  I decided not to peel them but to simply remove them from the tray and get them in the Vitamix. The tomatoes right off the sheets were good enough to eat. I had to restrain myself!

Off the sheet

Roasted

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After the Vitamix I had this…

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The skins were taken care of by the Vitamix, but I had seeds.  I wanted to remove them for this sauce. That is optional, but I put this sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds and then brought it to a boil.

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I used my Ball book for processing instructions and started canning the sauce and ended up with the most lovely product ever. I am looking forward to opening these during the cold days of winter!

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I am also going to make some more! Six jars will not last I can guarantee!

Are you still harvesting and preserving summer?

Happy Unleashing,

FGU

 

Indulging (and preserving) the Harvest Part 2

The harvest continues to come in. I am by no means an expert at canning. This is only my 3rd year doing this, but I do love it. Last weekend we canned 60 pounds of San Marzanos and Granderos (both Roma tomatoes). We also had some tomatillos that I used for salsa.

My kitchen corner was a busy place. It is a little crowded in that space for this task, but I made it work. I am excited about our kitchen remodel which will gain me about 80 inches of counter space! I will be in heaven.

Busy Kitchen

Tools of the trade:

Canning Tools

I was super excited to use the Weck Jars that Rachael gifted me at Christmas. They were the first to go in the water bath!

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Making the salsa was delightful and colorful. Look at that.

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I have not grown tomatillas before but we love them. I am really excited to be canning some Salsa Verde for future use!

Tomatillo Salsa

All in all for my first day canning of the season the takeaway was pretty and much larger than last year. Tomatoes, tomato jam, two kinds of salsa and dried tomatoes all await a winter day for opening and eating.

Jars of Tomatoes

The big news is that although this is the most I have ever canned before there is so much more waiting. I have been with my mom since 9/10 as she had surgery (she is recouping nicely) and hubby has been sending me pictures. Our green beans are so full and heavy that they totally took out the trellis from weight! He rebuilt it for the little guys. Our cucumbers I understand are waiting to be pickled and we have “1000’s of tomatoes” waiting for a canning jar. He told me that he went and bought several flats of ball jars that are waiting in the kitchen for me!

Can you say Christmas presents???

How’s your harvest and preserving coming along? Done or in the middle like me?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Fantasy Fulfilled

weck2Over time our fantasies of what we desire change.  At 15 and 16 I just thought I would die if I did not get a “77 Corolla; I did not get one and I am still here so I guess I had exaggerated that to my parents in hopes of persuasion.  In my 20’s and 30’s I just wanted to be the perfect the mom and have perfectly happy children that would sing my praises of how cool of a mom I was.  That lasted until they were about 6 and then took a leave until now; in their 20’s they sing my praises again.  I had to wait for that fantasy to be fulfilled.

When I went back to corporate in my 40’s I desired moving up, getting recognized and having clothes from Talbots and purses from Nordstroms.  That was all nice, but moving out to the country and leaving the traffic and stress that life brought with it, has been another fantasy fulfilled.

My first try at canning was two years ago; very small scale and my canning efforts grew this year and will continue to grow.  Along with that came my fantasy of owning Weck Jars.  A little too expensive for a newbie, so I have just lusted in my heart and apparently out loud as well, because my oldest daughter, Rachael, graced my with MULTIPLE boxes of Weck Jars for Christmas.  Do I look excited?

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I now am counting the days until the tomatoes are ready for canning at the end of summer and strawberries are begging to form jam in my little tulip jars.  I love how what thrills in one era totally evolves as you and your life does.

What do you fantasize about getting?  Something glamorous? Something useful? Maybe a little of both?

Happy Unleashing today!

FG

PS– Yes that is a SF 49ers shirt– Fantasy for a win in the super bowl also demonstrated in this blog. 🙂