Seredipity Saturday

(This afternoon’s view of the pond from above the wildflower meadow.)

In between making salsa and chopping up sweet peppers for freezing, I took a short stroll out by the pond to see what’s happening out there lately.  We had a cold front move through last night, bringing a little of the rain we so badly need.  A couple of days of gentle showers would be nice but we’ll take what we can get.

The temperature has cooled down considerably.  We had to break out the blankets last night.  It’s not yet cold enough to turn the heat on, thank goodness.  But too cold to sleep with the windows open.

It has been breezy and downright blustery at times.  The wind did its usual howling, moaning, groaning song throughout the night.

Some of the leaves on the trees have turned yellow and red.  Some of the leaves have been falling.  I think that is due, in part, to the lack of rain.  Driving around the area earlier today, we noticed that the corn and soybean fields are looking pretty dry and brown.

Some of the flowers are going or have gone to seed.  Others — the goldenrod and asters, for instance — are just starting to bloom.

And the bees are still out and about, doing their dance around and on the flowers.  No sign of any butterflies today, and I still have not seen so much as one monarch this year.  That puzzles me greatly.

I’d better get back upstairs and continue my work on the salsa.  It’s looking and tasting pretty good so far.  Although I am grateful for the abundant harvest this year, I will be happy to be finished with all the prepping, canning, and freezing.

Which reminds me…

Joanne asked me why we call it “canning” here in the U.S.  I found a discussion of the subject here.  Since there were a couple of different explanations (meaning no one really knows?), I decided it was best just to give you the link so you can read all about it.  One of these days — perhaps when the weather is cold and gray and there are no more vegetables to preserve — I am going to see what I can find about the history of preserving food.  I think it would be a fascinating subject to study for a little while.


(Holzwarth Historic Site, Rocky Mountain National Park)

One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we’ll never even meet.

~ Mary Kay Blakely

An interesting side-effect of all the canning and freezing I do at this time of year is that I not only feel a deeper connection to the land I live on and the community I am a part of, but I also feel part of a long line of women (and some men) who have spent the latter months of summer and the early months of autumn preserving the harvest.

It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine what it must have been like trying to keep food around well into the winter months without the modern appliances we have now.

The reason I preserve some of the harvest is to save money since I am no longer working outside of the home.  But I also do it because I like opening a jar of tomatoes in the depths of winter, when the world outside of my door is covered in snow and ice, and getting a whiff of summer as I sniff the tomatoes to make sure all is well (and not rotting).

Yesterday I finally finished up canning the tomatoes.  I’m thinking of heading over to Hilgert’s for another bushel of them as tomatoes are something I use a lot of in cooking.  They go into soups, stews, chili, pasta sauces, and probably plenty of other things not coming to mind at the moment.

(My freshly canned tomatoes, in their jars and ready for winter.)

Which reminds me…

I made a risotto the other night as part of my adventures in cooking.  It was fabulous.  I’ll share the recipe with you soon.

Green in the garden: Tomatoes

Our garden is doing well, a fact that amazes me when you consider how often I have not been out to weed of late.  I think I spent a grand total of 40 minutes out there last week.  M has put in more time, but he’s also been busy finishing up Project Patio.  I’ll have some new pics of that to show you soon.

Seeing the green tomatoes in collage format has me suddenly craving some fried green tomatoes.  Perhaps I’ll make some when we get home.  They always remind me of Mom.

(This was another in a series of pre-scheduled posts.)

A misty day

(125:  Water, rocks, wood, and flowers.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

There has been no improvement in the weather here in the Bogs, I’m sorry to say.  Still warm, humid, misty, and very gray.  We had a brief rain shower this morning.  I don’t like to complain too much about it because we need the rain.  We are, I think, about three inches behind where we should be in rainfall this year.

I’m thinking tonight will be a good night for comfort food.  I made three quarts of stewed tomatoes yesterday, following pretty much my mother’s way of making them — just tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  No sugar.  A little salt.  I don’t like my stewed tomatoes too sweet.  That must be Mom’s fault as her stewed tomatoes were never too sweet either.  The tomatoes (and the peppers I used) have a natural sweetness to them that’s just enough.

Macaroni and cheese is a great dish to have with stewed tomatoes, mixing the saltiness of the cheese with the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.  Yum.  I found a CookingLight mac ‘n cheese recipe that sounds good, using four cheeses.  I should stop messing around online and go do something about putting it all together, this comfort meal.  It’s not going to make itself, is it?

(Today’s view of the pond.)

Green tomatoes


(078:  Green tomatoes.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

I was at Hilgert’s Farm Market buying some fresh veggies when one of the women who works in the market asked if there was anyone who knew how to make fried green tomatoes.  I told her I did and she directed me towards another customer, a young woman, who was asking how to make them.

I know there are various ways of making fried green tomatoes, from the very simple to the gourmet.  There seem to be regional differences as well.  Some are made with breadcrumbs, some are made with cornmeal, and the southern variety are usually fried with some bacon grease to give them the extra flavor.  Some folks, before dredging the slices, dip their tomatoes in beaten egg, some in buttermilk, and some dredge them “dry.”

I gave the young woman my mother’s recipe which is one of the simplest ways I know how to make fried green tomatoes.  It’s also my favorite.  I don’t make them often because they can be a mess to make due to all that hot oil spattering around.

Mom’s fried tomatoes were not always fried green tomatoes.  She frequently made them with not-quite-ripe red tomatoes.  From my own experience I’ve found those work better with Mom’s recipe since a little juice on the tomato slices helps the coating to stick.  The tomatoes are sliced about a quarter inch thick, coated in flour, salt and pepper, and then fried in about a 1/4 inch of  hot oil in a skillet until they are golden brown (or as brown as you like them).  Flipping the slices in the hot oil is the messy part (for me).  Once they’re browned, the fried tomatoes are placed on a paper towel to sop up some of the oil then served hot/warm with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Simple, delicious, and they always remind me of summer and the wonderful flavor of fresh tomatoes (especially Jersey tomatoes!).

If you’re interested in the history of fried green tomatoes, I found this blog post to be helpful.

Vegetables and storms

(070:  Summer vegetables.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

M and I went to the dentist yesterday for our semiannual cleaning and check-up.  All is well with the choppers (since there is an inquiring mind out there that wanted to know).

A trip to the dentist also means a trip to our favorite Akron Italian market:  DeVitis.  We loaded up a few bags with all sorts of goodies including my favorite olive salad, artichoke salad, and cheeses.  Cheese is one of my big weaknesses when it comes to healthy eating, but I’ve found that a little bit of a tasty and strong cheese can go a long way without messing up the diet at all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a big bag of basil to deal with.  I bought the basil at the local farmers market on Saturday and stuffed it into the fridge until I had time to do something with it.  I got a good deal on the basil.  When I asked the man selling it how much it cost, he said he didn’t know because they hadn’t figured that out yet but how does $3.00 sound?  I said it sounded just fine and bought it.  To be honest, I have no idea how much a bag of basil that size should cost.  I suspect it might be more than $3.00.

I made two (one-cup) batches of pesto yesterday, using the basic pesto recipe from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.  Very simple stuff:  basil, pine nuts, garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil.  Whirl it around in the food processor and voila!  You have pesto.  I toasted the pine nuts for the first batch.  I like them toasted and wondered if it would add much change to the flavor of the pesto.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.  We’re having pasta with pesto for dinner tonight.

What looked like a great deal of basil was reduced to a small amount in no time.  I also used some of the basil in the zucchini-tomato gratin I made for dinner.  Today’s photo collage is a small collection of the pictures I took while assembling the gratin.  The recipe for the gratin was from the recent Vegetarian Times magazine.  It was labor intensive.  There’s a lot of salting and draping of vegetables to reduce the moisture in them.  The zucchini, after the moisture reduction, then has to be fried in olive oil until golden before layering it with the tomatoes, basil, olives, and cheese.

Was it worth the effort?  I think so.  It was delicious.  Will I make it again anytime soon?  Not likely.  It falls into that “fussy foods” category (wherein the means involves a lot of fuss to get to the end or the completed project), and I prefer fresh, fast, and simple most of the time.  It is nice to have something a little beyond that once in a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

We had some storms roll through yesterday.  I’ve been wanting to start a Tuesday video meme of my own.  Two Minutes at Breezy Acres, or something along those lines.   Two minutes may be a little too long so I could end up reducing it to One Minute at Breezy Acres.  In the meantime, here is yesterday’s two minutes of a summer storm as seen from the top of the new spiral stairs (where I was able to keep myself and, most importantly, my camera dry).