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Archive for September, 2010

Volunteers

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

pictures of squashVolunteers: plants that grow without me having planted them.

Here are some squash that arrived that way. Yay for a compost pile.

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Categories: What we are eating

Canning Tomatoes

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Note: In that perfect way of both motherhood and starting a new job, this post has been in draft form since about a month ago. Not quite as timely as it could have been….

I have heard from lots of people that they hate to can things. They hate to can tomatoes especially — I think it has to do with peeling the tomatoes. I’ll tell you a little secret: I don’t peel them!  There, you have it. The cat’s out of the bag. We make salsa and tomato sauce with ours and we use the blender for both — you can’t tell the skins are on.

Way back in March I ordered a “canning share” of tomatoes for $40. That means I get 50 pounds of tomatoes in “August to mid September.”

<sarcasm> That’s the perfect time for an academic to get a canning share of tomatoes</sarcasm>.

What it (canning share) means is that we get a call that our tomatoes are ripe, picked and ready for us to pick up, all 50 pounds of them. For most of them: I bring them home, wash them, cut the cores out, leave the skins on and can them. You can tell our seven year old is thrilled to help.

Don’t tell my mom: I’m not super careful when I cut the cores off. I take a bunch off with them, but I do take any black or super soft spots off.

What’s left behind goes into the compost bin*.

I have a handy dandy canning funnel that I use for lots of stuff, but when canning it turns out it’s handy to have one to keep the jars clean. I get some water going on the stove, wash out the jars, lids and seals in warm water. The process goes something like this: warm jar, add funnel, stuff full of quartered tomatoes, add citric acid, add hot water, put on lid, put on seal and balance in the rack inside the canner.** If you run out of citric acid, bottled lemon juice will do.

Note: coffee is a requirement for this process. Can’t can stuff without coffee.

When they are all done (which you know because the Ball Blue Book

tells you how long they should boil), remove them and let them cool on the counter. As they cool you’ll hear the wonderfully satisfying “clink” that comes when the jars seal themselves. Once cool, check lids to be sure they are sealed and then stick them into some sort of carrying receptacle and carry to the basement for salsa and sauce making during winter.

*It turns out that last year’s compost produced a healthy flock of baby tomato plants, which I might not have gotten had I gotten every last seed.

** Three items to purchase at an estate sale: canner, rack and canning funnel. Mine ran me about 5 bucks total. You can buy them in a kit from Amazon, but really it will be cheaper at an estate sale.

Categories: What we are eating

Breakfast in “Bed”

September 14, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes it is all about those special things, isn’t it? Like breakfast in bed. Honestly I don’t totally love breakfast in bed. That might be because my partner is not a morning person and I am. I’d much prefer that he take the kids and *go* someplace (even without me, gasp). So that I could have my favorite time of the day to myself.

I know, I know. I’m so demanding.

The kids and Doctor Dad have served me breakfast in bed from time to time and they (the kids) think it is a super special thing. So to celebrate the first weekend of the school year we served them breakfast in bed. Only they have bunk beds and we have no trays with legs.

So we carried up the little table, they sat on the floor of their room and enjoyed eating breakfast in their room — food is not allowed upstairs and certainly not breakfast food. This is a huge treat.

(The girls woke up about 3 minutes before we were ready to bring their plates up. They had just received matching t shirts the night before so they decided to dress for breakfast).

Categories: Uncategorized

Getting out the Door

September 9, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes getting out the door is the hardest part. Recent weekend morning:

“Hey guys, do you want to go on a hike?”

“No way! We want to play. We are taking our baby and puppy camping.” Girls clamber out the door to the tree fort (think deer stand in backyard designed for kids to play in), along with various “camping supplies” to set up a camp for one baby and her puppy in the tree fort.

The adults in the house meanwhile get their act together — I want to go hiking, DoctorDad wants to go running. We pack a backpack with clothes, shoes and food for the girls, go out the front door and hop into the van. We drive around to the alley (near the tree fort), hop out of the van and run over to the treefort, announcing, “This is a mandatory evacuation. All campers must vacate the area. Please collect your belongings and hop in the shuttle vehicle.”

Girls totally buy in. They get their stuff together and hop into the vehicle, ready to head out for another hike someplace.  Of course we do have to make a few amendments — like the baby has to come along on the hike. Luckily Baby’s Mama brought a carrier,

Categories: What we are doing

Fall (?) Day

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a blustery day here (and raining!). That means most of what I’d planned on doing is out the window: No apple picking and no applesauce making.  But it is the sort of day that calls for cuddling up with a warm beverage and reading the afternoon away. The kids are home today since school doesn’t start yet and daycare didn’t have room for them as “academic schedule” kids (they don’t go in the summer).

Child #1 has been devouring the classics such as Garfield Rounds Out. Our local library has about 50 Garfield Comic books on the shelf and it appears that Garfield humor is just right for our almost eight year old brain. To her credit, she has been reading the comics and explaining them to her younger sister.

Her younger sister asked to play with playdough (recipe below). It is always a messy activity, with crumbs getting all over the floor.  Little does she know that I intend to ask her to vacuum later. It is super quiet over there, I suspect she’s eating the stuff. mmm.

Myself: I’m torn between writing a lecture for my 9am class, working on some knitted socks and taking a nap. All three of those activities are sure to elicit demands from my children. So instead I’ll sit here, writing to you and enjoy my demand-free time.

Play Dough (pretty sure this is from an early childhood class we used to attend):

Flour 3cups
Salt 1 1/2 cups
Water 3 cups
Vegetable Oil 2TB.
Cream of tartar 1TB.
Food coloring few drops or unsweetened “Kool-Aid” 1pkg.

Mix ALL of the ingredients in a large saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, until the dough comes away
from the edges of the pan and it becomes difficult to move the spoon. Remove from heat. Cool until it can be handled.
Place on counter or wax paper knead 3-4 times.
Store in an air tight container.

We’re going on an adventure!

September 1, 2010 3 comments

I had a zillion things on my to-do list for the last day of summer: laundry, food shopping, vacuuming, lawn mowing.  But when I awoke to a crisp, beautiful blue sky, I threw all those things out. There was nothing that couldn’t wait for a few more days so that I could enjoy my last day home with my children.

I got my act together, when the kids woke up I told them to pack up their backpacks, I would pack lunch and we would go on an “adventure”. (Side note: we live within about an hour of several state parks and purchase an annual parks sticker for our car. Adventure to a state park can be a quick and cheap trip for us.)

Their job: warm (ish) clothes, sun hat,  and a water bottle into the backpack. My job: sandwich for each kid + a bit of junk food to ensure we can make it 1.5 miles from the parking lot to the lake and back. Child #1 took it upon herself to bring her camera.

We learned about rocks and gravity.

and talked about why the river might be much warmer than the lake this time of August.

But mostly we remembered that spending time together having fun and getting wet and dirty is so much more important than having a clean house and a dresser full of clean clothes.