Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blue Skies and Fair Winds

We went for a little walk on the local waterfront. The variety of boats and boat folk were varied and colorful and also most enjoyable.

The sites and sounds just made you want to jump aboard one of them and sail off to some unknown adventure!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

When Tomatoes Attack...

Okay, maybe they aren't really attacking, but when my tomato plants finally decide to produce, all eight did so at one time, making it feel like we were under attack by ever ripening tomatoes! This week we are averaging 10 tomatoes a day.

So what does one do with all those tomatoes? Well I gave some to a friend who is without a garden this year and she often gives me fresh eggs from her hens.

And this weekend I tried canning for the first time.

It is something I never learned from my grandmother and I can't say I remember my mother canning at home, but those types of activities were usually done collectively at my grandmothers house anyway. My grandmothers sister and cousin, my mother and aunt with children in tow, would arrive on an appointed day for canning or at the holiday season a day of baking cookies. I remember tons and tons of cookies, being one of the children who was assigned the task of shelling pecans for cookies. At canning time the children shelled peas or snapped beans.

But I digress.

This canning idea of mine came on rather suddenly as the table began to overflow with tomatoes and I couldn't even give them away to neighbors (who have their own gardens).

I went to the store and bought some pint size jars with lids. I decided I would try only two to start with in case I completely botched the whole thing. I also referred to "Canning for Dummies" and also About.com for "How to" help.

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Both sources had slightly different information so I had to pick and choose what would work in my kitchen. I do not have a proper canning tub with rack so I had to improvise with a stock pot and a couple of wooden spoons. Luckily, you do not need a pressure cooker to can tomatoes.

Here is my version of canning tomatoes with just basic equipment.

I boiled water in a large pot and dropped in 10 tomatoes. When the skins blistered, I removed them and placed them in cold water to cool enough to touch so that the skins can be peeled away. Then I cored them.

Place them back in hot boiling water for five minutes.

While the tomatoes were cooking the hubby washed the jars and rings and readied to receive the tomatoes, by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice.

I used a newly purchased large mouth funnel, (worth the $3 investment for sure) and spooned the tomatoes into the jars.

Hubby then used the handle of a wooden spoon to stir them around in the jars to remove excess air. He then put the lids and rings on and we placed them in hot water.

I used a large stock pot for this part and placed the two jars inside, it is important they do not bounce around and bump into each other during this process or they could break or crack, not having a proper rack I wedged a wooden spoon across the pot to keep them separated, this work very well.
You should keep them at a low boil, just hot enough for bubbles, for 40 minutes.

When they are done, I placed them on a towel and also covered them with a towel so that they could cool slowly, this took all night. But I could get the lids popping and in the morning I had good seals on both.

The hubby and I repeated this process exactly for four more jars. It took 31 medium sized tomatoes to make 6 pints.

We have plenty more tomatoes that are still very green and some in the process of turning red so I see more canning in my future.

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Consequently, not a lot of knitting going on this weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cool Website of the Day

Have you ever stumbled across a website and thought, why haven't I found this before?
That is what I thought when my hubby showed me this site today, totally amazing to me!
The Voyage of Roz Savage
She had rowed across the Atlantic and is now making a Pacific trip.

I encourage you to check it out, it is incredible.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Inspiration Comes from Many Sources

Inspiration is a uniquely individual thing. What inspires one person may not inspire another. It can be external or internal inspiration, a small child playing on a swing set trying to swing higher and higher, or personal experiences that inspire you to do better, be better, aspire to more of yourself. And sometimes it is something simpler like this:

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Becoming this:

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Creativity is not perfect like this:

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But, again there is a lesson here, while the salsa is a little too tomato-y and the bread a little fallen on one side, both are still tasty and shouldn't be judged on appearances alone.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Speaking of Olympic

Check out this tomato!
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It came from our neighbors garden. Sadly they are on vacation and I am hoping it will last until they get home. They told us to help ourselves anything that ripens while they are gone but this is their first of the "big ones" and I hate that they may miss it.

Between their garden and ours we have a bountiful table.
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I am researcing salsa recipes for all the tomatoes and peppers.
Yummy!

P.S. I got five more tomatoes today after work and three cucumbers. I'm thinking cucumber soup!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Go Team!

I love the Olympics. Summer/winter it doesn't matter, everything from gymnastics to curling, doesn't matter, I love them all. The mens swim team just beat the French in an upset! There is a 33 year old gymnist on the German's women's team, we have a member of the women's swim team in her 40s! The best of best no matter what the sport it is so amazing to me.

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Go Team!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rack'em Up!

Yesterday was one week from the day we started our own batch of wine, so it was time to as they say "rack it". So off we went to Vintner's Cellars in Yorktown and were once again greeted by Jennifer and Glen the owners. Just one of the nice couples you could meet.
Jennifer was in charge of us for our racking, which is basically transferring the wine from the fermination bucket to the carboy (a 5 gallon glass jug). It was quite fun and I didn't even make a mess!

We go back later this month to de-gas it and shortly after that it will be ready! Hooray! We are planning a little bottling party!

Vintner's Cellars seem to be in many locations in the country and Canada if you have one in your area, I highly recommend them. And of course if you are in the Williamsburg/Yorktown area, come meet Jennifer and Glen, they own and operate the only one in Virginia!


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Starting the process with the wine theif.

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Wine transferring to the Carboy.

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Viola! Black Currant Merlot, ready to ferment a little more, and rest while waiting for us to return.

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