Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green Zebra Pickles

Last week I made some green tomato pickles using a method from Martha Stewart- You just cut up the tomatoes and put them in left over pickle brine- after a couple of days they'll be pickle-y and delicious. I used some brine left over from my dills, and some from my hot mix veggies- which are pleasantly spicy. The tomatoes keep their crunch and tartness, and it's super easy to put together, taking all of 5 minutes from start to finish. I used Green Zebra Heirloom tomatoes because they're really delicious green and beautiful as well.

Our tomato harvest is going well actually- we haven't lost as much as we thought we would to late blight, and they're ripening (or reddening I suppose, as some say that a tomato picked green won't ever actually ripen off the vine but just get redder), on a piece of cardboard in the porch- we've already frozen a whole bunch and there's more to go now that we've had some nice dry warm weather.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pickled Peppers

In the spirit of my One Small change for September- (storing my harvest-properly) I've been trying to get a handle on my veggies this week- Pickling peppers, freezing eggplant and parsley, chopping Basil, and ripening tomatoes.

Here's the rundown on what I've done so far- I roasted the eggplant, sliced with olive oil- for about 20 min in a hot oven- then froze it in a single layer, and put it in baggies, I think it'll be easy to use for Eggplant Parmesan- when I take it out- I'll just layer it with the tomato sauce and cheese and finish the baking time.

The Serrano Peppers- I've pickled using this method- They're very good and as a health bonus this recipe has no salt in it and you don't miss it so that's a plus.

The Basil leaves were chopped up in a food processor with some olive oil - then I froze some in ice cube trays and put some in jars in the fridge with some extra oil on top, it seals it the air out so the basil says green and fresh and lovely. You can use this mixture for all sorts of methods and is probably even good uncooked- I've used it on pizza and foccacia bread so far- all with stellar results. Just scoop what you need out of the jar and then even the mixture out and put more oil on top - if you don't do this the basil will brown- I don't know how long this keeps though I expect it'll be good for a couple of months.

I chopped some of the Parsley and froze it in ice cube trays with a small amount of water and also froze some just as it was in zip lock bags.

I still have tomatoes, carrots, melons and potatoes in the garden which need a bit of dry weather to be dug up in- so hopefully I'll get to them this week. I also have Bell Peppers to chop and blanch and freeze and Tomatoes to skin and seed and freeze- though I've read about people who just pop tomatoes right into the freezer as is- has anyone tried this? does it just make more work when you want to use them?

Okay... I have a chocolate Zucchini cake to make...enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Heart U Too!

I think this is the garden's way of saying I love you. Unless of course you- like my Husband think that this tomato looks like a bum- in which case- I don't think I want to know what the garden thinks of me.

(in his defense- I may have been holding the tomato at a weird angle when I first showed it to him.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teeny Tiny Sunflowers

These Sunflowers are delighting me- they're dwarf so they only stand about 2 feet high, but otherwise they're just like the big ones. I especially love the pale yellow flowers. So nice to have these late bloomers to look at from the kitchen. ( I almost posted a photo of N holding a zucchini- but realized that the last post had photos of her kissing a tomato- don't want to appear strange here- but I should mention that one of the front runners for her Halloween costume is a zucchini- a yellow one)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Make hay while the sun shines

We took advantage of the sunshine on Saturday, and played outside. I've been feeling bad lately that N spends so much of our time outside in her stroller- of course this is sometimes the safest place for her, but it doesn't allow her much time to explore, eat dirt, crackle leaves etc. The thing about this is that I need to be just with her, not pulling weeds, or puttering the garden, or working on some other project, I need to just spend time with her making sure she doesn't eat too many bugs.

I'm a big time multi-tasker- like most women- so this is hard for me. But I've been trying to set aside time for free outside play, and this Saturday- despite the wind we sat outside and played for a couple of hours. She was content to sit in one spot in the yard, and play in the garden beds- next year she is going to be such a good garden helper- pulling weeds and picking plowers- she's started to give the vegetables kisses if we ask her to, which is unbelievably sweet, she gives the water melons kisses to make them grow.

This is one of the gifts of Fall, it's a chance to realize the things you never got to in Summer- and it gives you a few days to complete those things- while wearing a sweater, of course. But because fall is so fickle, and you can't count on good weather- you have to just take your chance, and not put off the things you want to do- I think there's a lesson there, especially for a professional procrastinator like myself.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt, sleepy baby, 191o, pastel on paper (source)

Mary Cassatt, The child's bath, 1893 (source)

Mary Cassatt was a well-known, well-exhibited female artist (perhaps this is so because of her relationship with Degas), but she was unique in her portrayal of women and mothers. Women tending children is one of her most popular subjects. I find these paintings reassuring now- and complex and deep- in a way that I largely ignored in school. I remember twigging onto how interesting it was that a woman was representing women like this- but then putting it aside and writing papers on different artists.

I'm not sure what that shows- that my interests have changed I guess- or perhaps that the idea of motherhood is so couched in our society's subconscious that until one actually becomes a mother, the plight of mothers is kind of secondary. All I know is that it didn't seem pertinent to me at the time, or like something I could have explored- and I want to explore it now.

Maybe that's one of the biggest drawbacks to art school- because it takes so much time you're not really living while you're there (or at least I wasn't)- so the subject matter you focus on while you have all this time to dedicate to researching and exploring isn't necessarily based on anything that you feel is important. You're just so busy trying to get a grade that you don't actually evolve personally, except for your skills.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Saturday

Clay, Clay, and more clay. This has been my week- yesterday I spent the day moistening and wedging some clay that was a bit too dry to work with- that I inherited from the lady I bought my kiln from. It's an awful lot of hard labour that wedging- especially turning several slippery on-the-outside-hard-on-the-inside bits into one smooth lump. My back is paying for it today- but I did manage to get two boxes worth of clay workable, so it's worth it.

The above picture is a carved tile that I made a mold of, and will hopefully form the basis of a series of slab mugs, it's a bit big actually, but I'm terrible at judging shrinkage- Clay shrinks as it's dried and fired, so mugs that seem the right size wet almost always turn tiny when done. That's something I'm hoping to avoid by using templates and molds- but I have to ignore my gut instinct that this is too big- though maybe it is too big- we'll have to see.

Also this week- a space was made in the shop for me- my own little sectioned off clay space- right next to the bench grinder, but away from the anvil (which I'm sure was responsible for the mysterious bruises on my thigh). And K made me some square plate molds for slab plates, Which I plan to try out today, but the sun has just come out- and there's tomatoes in the cupboard that need to dealt with so we'll see how far I get on the clay front today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy"- William Blake.

I feel like this quote is so appropriate for how I'm feeling lately, I almost can't wait for winter- for quiet, and solitude. I say almost because I'd really like my tomatoes to ripen up before I harvest them- so a few more days of warmth would be welcome. The air is crisp- my toes want socks, and the big blanket is on the bed, It's officially fall, and the quiet fall days of my maternity leave are not happening this year, University is starting today, and with it my Marking and T.A-ing starts, and also it's craft sale season, and for the first time I'm on the selling end of these sales- which is a bit daunting.

I'm not just toiling over salsa, and blanched tomatoes- though I plan to do that too, this year Fall is for learning how to balance this motherhood/homemaking gig with other occupations, which will hopefully work well together, but one never knows, just because you work from home doesn't mean you always time to clean the fridge or read stories- or shower even, if we're honest.

I feel lucky to be able to do this job of Full-Time-Mama from home, and also to have a job that can be worked from home, but it's a bit non-stop if you know what I mean. The attachment parenting principle of Balance, is the one that's hard, the one where you have time to groom yourself as well as teach your child, and feed your soul, that what I have to work on.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Inspiration: the Textile Blog

This Blog is amazing, of course when I'm planning to spend a whole two months working on Clay projects-(in order to get ready for craft sales)- it figures that I find a way to lust after textiles. K actually found this blog for me and one day I noticed it peeking at me from my bookmark list. He had found it through a post about Dukhobor Weaving, which just shows how diverse the postings are. Oh well, I must get back to my clay, but enjoy the textiles.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Friday

I don't think I've posted about these flowers yet- Zinnias, I've fallen for them this year. They're a perfect cut flower, they last forever, and were so easy to grow. These ones were from a small six pack of annuals, but I've been diligently collecting seeds from them, so next year hopefully I'll have tons of them from the seeds of this batch. But I think I'm hooked, I've been looking at some lovely orange ones online...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Small Change: September

My One Small Change for this month is going to do with the garden, I would like to use and properly store as much from the garden as I can. This may seem like a no brainer- but actually last year- the onions and potatoes we harvested froze in the garage while we were trying to sort out a space inside for them- it was such a shame, I'm determined not to let it happen again.

My onions are already out, and they're hanging to dry in the shop, the beets have been harvested and are being stored in damp sand in a rubber maid container, and we've frozen enough corn on the cob to last us all year. I've grated and frozen zucchini, beets, and Swiss chard, and I still have more to do. I've bought burlap sacks for potatoes and we've got some bins for the squash. But for the most part what I need to focus on is learning a space for everything- we've got a room downstairs that is just storage, and I need to tidy and organize to make space for everything. Fall is perfect for this I think, I'm actually kind of looking forward to clearing out some spaces and giving them a new purpose.

Saving seeds

So far this month my seed saving has been from flowers- which is super easy- the seeds are usually just under the petals, or the seed heads are dry and easy to see. Then you just label and store in an envelope in a dry dark space. More directions can be found here.

I'm planning on using the fermentation method for tomatoes when my tomatoes ripen here with these directions.

For beans and peas I'm doing this, basically just allowing the beans to dry in situ, and then storing.

I was planning on saving squash seeds but after reading this about the possibility of disgusting hybrids, I decided not to- maybe next year I'll try to be more selective about planting and pollination, but for this year I'll just leave it.

I'm pretty happy to have collected what I've got so far- I think I won't need to buy flower seeds next year, which is great- though I'm not super sure what will come of them, because of open pollination I don't know if the colour of the flowers will stay true, but it'll be interesting to see what comes out anyways.