Friday, October 28, 2011

Nothing Makes me Happier...

The sight of a sleeping Toddler is heaven, no matter where she's sleeping. N still sleeps with us in our big bed, she always has, and even though some people think that means she always will I know better. I know that one day in the not too distant future she'll rather die than sleep cuddled up to me, she'll probably want to keep secrets from me, and avoid telling me the whole truth about what went on at that party, or at that school dance. She'll try not to smile when I make a joke, and she'll want to go shopping on her own, or worse, just with her friends.

I know these days are coming, the days when I am not her best friend, when I will have to ask for hugs, and she'll want me to stop dancing, or hugging her, or grooming her, at least in public. And so who can blame me that I hug her tighter at night, now, when she wants me to? I know it will come to an end one day, she will not be two forever, she is already starting to assert herself, to tell us (the lowly parents) to stop singing or dancing, or hugging, and even if we have to force her hand a little one day soon she'll be snuggling up to a stuffed toy in her own bed, and then I'll have days and days of sweet memories of holding my little girl close. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In the Garden

We've had a few nights of hard freezing this last week- and so most things are done out there- the Kale and Carrots are still hanging on- but that's all. Even the Swiss Chard is finished. All in all it was an excellent year for the garden, the freezer is full of produce and we've made it to November without having to use our freezer stores. I usually plan to have enough veggies in the freezer to last for about 7 months- from November to May, so that we're eating right up until we can (hopefully) start harvesting some salad greens, or at least some chickweed in the spring.

This year is better than most in that we've still got green tomatoes, and will probably have fresh tomatoes until December! Also I've transplanted a few Chard plants and a couple of Kale plants to bring inside, I don't know if they'll grow well- but Hopefully they will and we can keep on eating some fresh greens in the winter too.

It feels good to have the garden wrapped up for the year though- I'm happy to have the soil tilled, and to start thinking about hunkering down inside, baking bread and making soup.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I not baby!

This is the refrain in my house at the moment " I not baby!" If I say "Hi Babe"- she says- "no hi babe", I can occasionally call her Honey, and get away with it but most times she just wants to be called by her name, and she vociferously objects to Baby or Babe. It's like she's training us. She's been pushing us a lot this week- I suppose she's growing up, but we've been having a lot of battles about little things- I suppose when you're two the little things are all you have- even though I try not to battle with her- some days it feels like everything she wants to do is dangerous, and she is defending her right to plummet off the couch into the glass coffee table no matter what the cost.

Don't get me wrong- she's far from the monster children we've all heard stories about, but still, it's tough to be challenged all the time. On the upside though- she's been dry for a few nights this week- and no accidents during the day- perhaps a little challenging is the price you pay for a pee free home. She's also learned to count in the last few weeks- barring numbers 4 & 5 she can count to ten (with a little prompting)! I'm shocked by this, I have no idea if it's above average, or below average or just average- but I'm not going to look it up- I'm just going to use it as proof of her brilliance, even if it's not.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanksgiving Jumper

This is Nora's New Jumper- made for thanksgiving supper when I realized that she had no weather appropriate dresses, so this one got all made up the day before. It was very very simple- just a regular a line jumper- but I cinched the waist in with elastic, and made giant pockets on the front perfect for stuffing with leaves and acorns, I love this style and think that I'll make her several more like it for winter time- maybe a fleece lined one for around the house?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

The Romanticism of the tomato processing period (if you could ever call it that) is over for me. The freezer is well stocked, the tomatoes are starting to peter out, and the kitchen looks like a massacre took place there- there are tomato seeds everywhere. If you have a two year old who likes to alternately squish tomatoes and spray you with the hose on the sink 'help' and like a neat kitchen (or at least a floor that isn't covered with globs of tomato pulp), I don't recommend extended time tomato processing.

At any rate- as I said the freezer is stocked- so I thought I'd run down all the things I've been making with our bounty, Sauce (for pizza and pasta), Salsa, Crushed tomatoes, and Juice.  The sauce has been super easy- just chop the tomatoes- lightly seed and remove cores, then roast at 350 with some garlic cloves for about an hour- then blend in a food processor.Then freeze or can, so easy.

The crushed tomatoes are actually the first step in making salsa- just peel tomatoes (by blanching in boiling water for one minute- then slipping the skins off under cold water), then squish them into a bowl (this is the fun part- but it's messy) and then crush up the more solid bits of tomato flesh- and freeze in Ziploc bags. I like to freeze them in 2 cup portions, because that's about the size of a can- lay the Ziplocs flat in the freezer- and then you'll be able to stack them in there- I do the same for tomato sauce and chicken broth- it's real space saver.

I also made juice with the seedy pulp I squeezed form the tomatoes- just put it through a food strainer (I used an old chinois that I borrowed from my sister- it's got a wooden 'mill' sort of thing that helps to push the liquid through and break up the pulp- you'll have to push it through the strainer). this juice is awesome fresh- with no added salt or anything, it's got great body too- though it does separate as it sits or freezes, so you'll have to stir it- it's great to just drink or to use in soups.

One last note about canning Tomatoes- I use a boiling water canner- and I like canned salsa over frozen salsa- though I freeze everything else. I was a bit worried about the acidity of my tomatoes though as they did ripen off the vine, and I also think that yellow tomatoes have a lower acid content than traditional red ones. In order for boiling water canning to be safe, the item you're canning should have a ph of 4.6 or higher- so if you suspect that your tomatoes are a little low on acidity- add some lemon juice or vinegar- 1 tbsp per quart of tomatoes should do the trick.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oven dried Cherry Tomatoes

These are the most delicious tomatoes I've ever eaten, they're like sun dried tomatoes- but less sweet- more like a condensed tomato flavour- and if you put them under the cheese on a pizza you will certainly eat the whole pizza in one sitting- they're that good. All you need to do is cut them in half, and lay them cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet- sprinkle with oil and salt and pepper and bake in a 275 degree oven for 4-6 hours.
I like to put all the same size tomatoes on one sheet- smaller cherry tomatoes on one, and the larger grape style cherry tomatoes on another as they take a little longer to dry down.  You're aiming for dry, with just a small amount of juiciness, not crisp- though. They'll freeze well or will store up to 6 mos. in an airtight container in the fridge. We've also been eating them blended up as a tapenade, or as a rack under roasting meat (especially good with a fatty pork chop- they soak up the juices and rehydrate a bit), in Pasta, or just by themselves as a snack.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bear with me

 I'm sorry to say that trying to get all the fall chores done before my winter chores start to pile up too is keeping me really really busy- the end result is that I take lots of pictures which I mean to post and then never get a chance to post them, until they are ridiculously out of context. I'm also trying to sneak in ways to recharge a bit and to enjoy the fabulous fall weather we're getting, it's so nice I was outside planting bulbs for indoor forcing in a tank top!( yes this is apparently the week to plant bulbs to force inside- and if you get at all nostalgic for spring in February you should put a little time in to do just that- it will make you so happy in the winter to look at some hyacinths- it's easy too- check out this post at A Garden for The House for more info).

So in an effort to enjoy the fall colours- we took a walk in the oak woods near our house. We're so lucky to have this space on our property- man what a great spot to go explore in- I think N just about burst she was so satisfied with our "adventure" in the woods. We also picked up some acorns that I'm hoping to turn into trees...not sure quite how...or when...but I'll figure that out later.

Anyhow- I'll still be posting, while I try to tie up some lose ends around here- but maybe not as frequently, so bear with me- and enjoy the warm fall!