Oven Roasting Tomatoes

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Because I could not find a long enough stretch of free time to can my tomatoes this year, I tried something new.  A friend of mine at work mentioned that she oven roasted her tomatoes and put them in the freezer until she needed them.  Ah ha!

For me, this was a brilliant solution!  It takes just a little bit of prep time, 1 1/2 hours in the oven and then right to the freezer.

I do apologize for these photos.  I did this at night and therefore lost my daylight.  I am saving up for a new camera, which someday might just happen.  (Just maybe.  A girl can dream, right?) 

 

How To Oven-Roast Tomatoes

1.    Pre-heat oven to 250.

2.    Rinse tomatoes in hot water to make sure than any critters are removed from the skins.

3.    Remove the core and quarter the rest of the tomato.

4.    Line baking pan with foil.  (I used jelly roll sheets.)

5.    Drizzle olive oil on the foil and spread, just enough to over the foil with a thin layer.

6.    Line the tomatoes up on the sheet.

7.    Add fresh herbs to the tomatoes, if desired.  We added chopped basil.

8.    Drizzle olive oil on top of the tomatoes as desired.

9.    Put sheets in oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the tomatoes are soft.

10.    Remove from oven and let cool.

11.    Pour tomatoes and oil into jars or containers and freeze, allowing some head space for the tomatoes to expand in freezer.

 

When ready to use, remove from freezer and thaw.  Use as is or puree in food processor to make sauce, etc.

I haven't used any of mine yet, but will post an update when I do and let you know how they turned out.  I hope the result is a good one, because preserving tomatoes this way is a great time saver.  Had I known about this a couple of weeks before, I could have been spared this tomato waste!

Happy Monday, Friends!


Making Pesto - A How To

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How To Make Homemade Pesto

(Ingredients)

3 cups packed basil leaves

2-3 gloves fresh or bottled garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cups pine nuts

3/4 cups shredded parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Plant a basil plant....and remember to water it. :)  Also, as it flowers from the top of the plant, pinch it off!  This helps the plant keep growing.  (Leaving the flowers on signals to the plant that it is at the end of its lifespan.)

2.  Harvest your leaves.

3.  Rinse and pat dry the leaves just before you plan to make the pesto.  

4.  Remove the stems!  (This is the most tedious part of the process, and it doesn't have to be perfect.  Just try to get the bulk of the stem.)

5.  Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.

6.  Put in clean, small gift mason jars and freeze until use.

Thaw a jar when ready to use and add as a sauce to cooked pasta, chicken, or bread or pizza.  It can be warmed or served room temperature.  For some other great uses of pesto, click here!    

Pesto has endless possibilities and is a quick and flavorful way to create a healthy and homemade meal!  If I know ahead of time that our evening is packed full, I remove a jar of pesto before leaving for work in the morning and let it thaw throughout the day.  Later that evening, between practices and lessons, I boil some pasta and toss it with some pesto, and voila - dinner is done. The pine nuts and parmesan cheese add plenty of protein.  For some added vegetables, throw together a simple salad to serve along with it.

(It helps to keep the kiddos busy during your basil harvesting and pesto making....see below. :)

 

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At Camp

We've been away camping this beautiful weekend and having a marvelous, campy time with sparse cell signals and a whole lot of being outside.

As I sit in a camp chair, I see my children build a homemade zip-line and my dad read a book and I feel tired and smell camp-smokey. But I am also peaceful and happy and so glad for this little getaway.

Wishing you a wonderful Saturday, my friends!



More Snippets From the Garden and Back From Camp

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It is impossible for me to post any other photos right now than the ones from our garden.  We just love it so much!  To date, we have an overabundance of cherry tomatoes, green peppers and banana peppers,  (If anyone local needs any of these fine veges, please ask...we are happy to share!)

We picked another crop of onions tonight and harvested our very first batch of broccoli!  This is the first year I have ever tried broccoli and I am not quite sure what I am doing.  We have a small army of bunny friends who like the broccoli just as much as we do, so that has been a mild setback.  But tonight we cut what was left.  So there, you bunnies you!  

The squash plant is doing surprisingly well for being in an area that doesn't get as much sun as it probably should, but I'm a little worried about the pumpkin vines.  They look a bit yellow and sickly to me...no?

We have had SO much rain around here this summer.  I guess it's good for the garden, but I do believe even our poor plants are tired of it.  A big storm that came through pulled our basil right out of the ground.  We replanted it and it should be OK, but still!   I love a good rainy day or even two now and then, but enough is enough.

The girls got back from camp on Saturday and had a wonderful time.  No broken bones and only one shirt came back with mildew on it.  Success, I say!  I love that for the the past 2 days, they have both spoken a mile a minute about the games, inside jokes, how gross the showers were, free-time activities, the songs, cabin clean-up, skits, blah, blah, and BLAH!

 Do you remember coming home from camp and trying to put a week's worth of words into the first five minutes of the car ride home?  I do.  I'm pretty sure that camp memories are forever memories, folks.

I think my favorite quote was from Marianne -

 "Mama, it was the BEST!  One night, I had a Klondike Bar in one hand and a Nutty Buddy in the other!!!!"

 

(You Go Girl!)


Growing Things

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Every season....every garden....every first harvest...every tomato, squash, pepper......

...they remind us that there will always be beautiful new life and vibrant color, 

...that there will always be goodness that comes up out of  dirt...out of nowhere,

...that every day there is something to look forward to when you can go pick a crunchy cucumber right off the vine and chop it up in the very next minute, 

...growing things = finding hope in your own backyard.

 

Happy, peaceful Friday to you all!


*Warning!* (This Post May Be Offensive...)

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Ha!  Gotcha!  We're talking about laundry here and nothing more.  And I have one burning question about it.

What is so offensive about a clothesline?

Yes, they are illegal here in the heart of suburbia.  Well, maybe "illegal" is a stretch, but the fact of the matter is most of the communities that populate this area are governed by homeowners associations that do indeed outlaw clotheslines in one's yard.  How is this decided, I wonder?  I can picture the meeting now, years ago with a bunch of sweaty guys in ties who had never done a mere load of laundry in their life.

"Clotheslines?  Yeah, what an eyesore.  Write it in the rules, Frank."

Ah, well.  It is something I will never understand.  Maybe it's time to update the rules especially in this new age of frugal, energy-saving greenness?

 

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Thanks to an Etsy purchase, I now have this sturdy beauty of a drying rack that fits an entire extra large load of laundry right on our patio.  And as soon as the clothes are dry, we can fold it up and put it away in a wink just to ensure that the eyesore we create is strictly temporary!

 

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First Seeds

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We planted our pumpkins on Sunday!  I know it is still a tad early here in the great Zone 6, but we are getting pretty close.  Plus, I think pumpkins are hard to time just right to be ready by mid-October.

So in an effort to not miss the boat on this one....our pumpkins are in the ground!

Suburban vegetable gardening requires a bit of creative thinking and space-clearing since most neighborhood homes around here don't have huge plots of open fields in full sun.  For our pumpkins, we cleared most of a side bed that gets the eastern sunrise and used about 1/3 of it for our pumpkin hill.  We planted 6 holes.  I'm thinking 6 vines of pumpkins, if all goes well, will be plenty.

I am pleased to say that the one plant I brought from New Hampshire, a hydrangea bush that I received last Mother's Day, is doing quite nicely!  I hope it makes a good neighbor to our pumpkin vines as it shares this particular bed.

Lastly, do you see my dying pine tree?  We bought it rooted from a Christmas tree farm and planted it in the winter during a warm period.  I'm worried about it, though.  More and more branches are turning brown and I don't know what to do.  Does anyone have any ideas or experience with saving a dying pine tree?  

Gardening tips and advice is always welcome here, so do share!