Friday, September 28, 2007

Yet Another Thing to do with Tomatoes

I have been being very creative here. But not necessarily in a crafty sort of way. I have made some more stitch markers seeing as I have found an outlet in town for them. And I have been taking an absolutely wonderful bamboo basket workshop from a bamboo master Jiro Yonezawa. It is wonderful to feel such inspiration. I hope to be able to steal some images from Linda's camera to do a blog post on it. Tomorrow is the last day and my mind is working overtime with possibilities.
So maybe I have been more creative than I first thought.
But today. Today my best creativity happened when I came home from work (I did work this afternoon). I had decided to use up yet more tomatoes and make an uncooked pasta sauce for supper tonight. I don't know if any of you have ever heard of putanesca sauce, but (if stories are to be believed) it originated in Italy and was a favorite of , ahem, ladies of loose morals. In other words, ladies of the evening. The story says that these ladies would eat a pasta (we are talking Italy here) that was rich in garlic, olives, and anchovies, and would have breath so foul that they would not have kiss their .... clients.
No clients here, and seeing as we all ate the sauce, no kisses have been spared.
So enough of the history and on to the recipe.....

Uncooked Tomato Sauce

14 black olives - pitted and chopped coarsely
3-5 cloves of garlic - chopped or crushed
1 medium red onion - chopped finely
1 red pepper finely diced - optional
1/4 cup fresh parsley -finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil - finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme
a few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce
1/4 cup olive oil - I use extra virgin
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
6 - 8 - 10 -12 tomatoes - it just really matters how many tomatoes you need to get used up quickly. They should be chopped and drained through a strainer for a few minutes.

Mix everything together in a big bowl and serve over cooked pasta. I usually put a bit of olive oil in the pasta and spoon the sauce on each plate. This makes enough for all 6 of us using about 450 g of pasta so scale as you need to. Or just spoon the left over sauce on some bread that had been brushed with olive oil and toasted under the broiler.

oops. Almost forgot to mention the freshly grated parmesan cheese that gets sprinkled on the top of the pasta (I am sure that it will work equally well with the bread)

And I also want to say that as with a lot of recipes, this is infinitely mutable. You don't like olives... leave 'em out. Add and subtract as you want. Just make sure that it never sees a burner (with exception to the pasta of course) and all will be well.

Both Bill and I expressed a desire to have a camera when we sat down to eat tonight. The colours were marvelous.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yarn and Broccoli

Strange combination, but these days you squeeze in what you can.
I have finally finally finally finished plying my "Sailors Delight" I can't remember what the weight was. Somewhere close to 4 ounces. And the yardage is 407! I am so pleased with it that I started to spin the second bundle the same. With 800 yards I should be able to knit myself another lace shawl. Not that I have progressed very far with my first lace shawl. There is always a reason to not be knitting on it.
I have been doing some other spinning too. For more slubby scarves. Every week many people comment on them. So far, no one has bought one. I have to admit that it is a bit hard to sell a wool scarf when it is hot and humid. Hopefully with cooler weather (and Christmas) coming, people will start to think that they are worth the price that I have on them. Which are, between you and me, a wholesale price. Fredericton is a hard place to sell high quality hand wovens. People think nothing of spending a couple of hundred dollars on jewelery, but balk at spending any more than $30 on a scarf. I need to find new markets.

One of my many excuses for not working on my lace shawl is dealing with garden stuff. Here my helper and I are bagging and freezing broccoli with the assistance of the FoodSaver machine that my sister Christine got me for Christmas. It is really slick. It comes with a roll of plastic tube that can be cut and sealed to make bags. There is also a vacuum chamber that will suck the air out of the bag before you seal it. Very slick. I like it. And so does Nicole. Thanks Christine. You knew that I would enjoy this little machine, and I do.
Don't ask me what the goofy grin is for, but I think that she is having fun.

Amy and I went to the garden tonight to pick a few tomatoes. And cucumbers. And squash and broad beans and green beans and a few peppers and a head of dill. We netted less than last weekend. Thankfully. I sent Amy home with a some of everything except the broad beans and the one head of dill. There were probably just enough broad beans for one small meal and I picked the dill just to munch on. Luckily she was happy with taking about 30 pounds of tomatoes too. And there are still more green ones in the garden. We have a few hot days coming this week and I am hoping that will help some of the tomatoes left ripen. We have been lucky so far this year to not have any frost. But I know that it is coming. Any time now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happiness is....


The Lake.

Bill's father bought the cottage while on leave from the war during the summer of '44. When he bought it, it was one of a very few cottages on the lake. Now our well kept secret is out and there has been considerable development. I'm sure that Bill can give you all of the particulars in the comment section. He's the details man. I'm more of a big picture sort of gal. In any case, it was basically a hunting/fishing cabin that was..... well, lets call it rustic. Over the years there have been many many improvements. Now it is definitely a home away from home. Only smaller. The footprint of the cottage is about 24' x24'. A bit of a tight squeeze when everyone (9 of us) is in residence.
There are beautiful views. Even when the weather is less than wonderful.
Plenty of time for lots of cuddles because there is only so much that you need to do. I love this part. My to do list if so short. Those pesky cupboard don't need to be cleaned out. That pile of papers can't be sorted. They are 100 km away!
There are lots of critters that come around. Like Chippy the chipmunk. There are also a variety of red squirrels, frogs and toads, fish and crayfish (the later being a very rare find), and hummingbirds and dragonflies by the thousands. There are woods to explore. And for a few sweet weeks, an Uncle Sandy for the kids to explore with. He can pack a years worth of love and attention into those few weeks. Thank you.
There are kids for my kids to play with. Here are Nicole and a M. from a few cottages down fishing off the end of the dock. I can't tell you the hours of pleasure that those girls got from the toy fishing rods. Quiet pleasure. Did you note the "quiet" part. With everyone being a bit older, there was less stress around keeping an eye on every child. Which meant that I could spend some time sitting on the swing on the porch with a book or some hand work without being interrupted every thirty seconds. Happiness indeed.
Here are all the kids from various cottages around us celebrating Simon's and Liam's birthday. They run in a pack for the weeks that everyone is in residence and everyone gets separated into their various cottages at dark. And best of all, I like everyone of these kids.

It is just about time to say goodbye to the lake for the winter. Maybe we will make it up later in the fall. It is always nice to do because it is so quiet and peaceful. Not to mention that the fire in the stove feels really nice.

Note: All photo's are credited to the fabulous Uncle Sandy
He's the one in the middle. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tomatoes anyone?

Sunday Bill and I biked out to the farm (mom came and picked up the kids) so that we could have a family dinner. My uncle Albert was home from Ottawa for the weekend and mom wanted us all to get together. Before we ate, Bill and I took some time to pick a few things. Starting with a garbage bag of basil and 150 +/- pounds of tomatoes. Then we went on to a few eggplants, jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, and yet more broccoli. I have to admit that I am getting slightly tired of broccoli. But we do freeze some and it goes very nice in stir fries that we often have in the winter. When Bill gets home I will see if he can help me get the wee video that we took posted. I am a techno weenie and don't want to do it myself. Besides, he has the cable that I need.
I mentioned this mass of tomatoes that we had to people around the lunch table at work, and one woman suggested that I start selling them. I had brought a few extra to share and they all exclaimed at how good they looked and tasted. I am not quite sure how I would feel about adding "tomato broker" to my list of skills.
Speaking of work......Moth update......
After meeting with the pest control guy, the course of action decided upon is to bag all of the yarn and add a fumigation strip to each of the bags. The fog (as they call it) only kills the adults and not larva or egg. The egg hatch in between 5 to 10 days depending on conditions and the fumigation strips will kill the larva. Then all cupboards and any cracks where eggs may have fallen need to be sprayed and washed. I can't start this process until we get the strips and the pest guy was fresh out of them. So hopefully by the end of the week I will be able to start on demothafication of the Fiber Arts studio.
In the meantime, I am off to deal with a few more tomatoes before I go get the babe at pre-K. Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that there is at least as many tomatoes still in the garden. Maybe I should reconsider becoming a tomato broker.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How does your garden grow?

The September edition. Things are really taking off in the garden. Or taking over in the case of the squash. That mound below is squash. And it is about 6 feet high. My mother and I put a cage of sorts under it so that it would have somewhere to go. It climbed the cage, and went through the peppers and into the row of basil.
Within this mass are two types of squash. First up is Akehime. It is a baby sized Japan winter squash. They are about the size of a small cantaloupe. Very cute. I keep peeking in and testing the skin to see if they are ready.
Next is the Fairy squash. The maturity of these says 90 days and I hope that they make it before the frost. We had a rather cold night earlier in the week with temperatures hovering just above freezing. And then yesterday was way up in the 30's ( that would be 90's for all you south of the border). The weather has become rather unpredictable. Both of these squash came from David who didn't get a chance to harvest his garden this year because of a sudden move to Scotland!
And here we have one of the 4 rows of tomatoes. Or maybe it was 5 rows. In any case, the tomatoes are so loaded with fruit that they have knocked over their cages. I hauled up the cages and pounded stakes in about a month ago, but they fell over again. Good enough, says I, stay where you want. So now in order to pick some tomatoes, I have to haul up the cages and pluck the ripe ones from underneath. And there are A LOT of tomatoes coming on. In fact, when I was out there last Thursday, I had and old Eagles song running through my head. Does anyone remember "Hotel California"? That part when the word say "And I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell". I guess that it is all just a matter of perspective. When I was pregnant with Mira 13 summers ago, we planted many, many tomato plants. 40 some I think. Among them were some cherry tomatoes. That grew and grew and grew until they were taller than I was. And they grew out and out and out until that one section of the garden was one mass of tomatoes. I dubbed it "tomato hell" and refused to go in. I would pick from around the edges but not venture in to the heart of tomato hell. 7 months pregnant and a wee bit tippy, I was afraid that I would go in, fall over and not be found until the frost killed the plants. Bill, tomato lover that he is, thought that it was heaven. Except that he was working in another city and had over an hours commute each way. Which left him little time to be in the garden. Needless to say, many tomatoes died in tomato hell that fall.
Thursday I picked about a bushel of tomatoes and I didn't even make a dent.

I also have been dealing with cucumbers in the usual way. Almost every meal has is accompanied by a plate of sliced, lightly salted cucumbers. A few jars of dills have been made but due to having 38 jars leftover from last year, only a few. For some reason, the kids have seriously slowed down in their dill eating. Even though they were given free rein on the pickle shelf. This year, I decided to try something new. Well, old, but new to me. I have only made bread and butter pickles once before and didn't really care for them. I have a mustard allergy and so had to modify the recipe a bit but I still didn't like the Zesty Bread and Butter Pickles from the Bernardin cookbook. Utter failure. So I never made them again. Until this year when I found this recipe on Kansasa's blog. She claims that they are the best bread and butter pickles ever. And I would have to agree. I just left out the mustard seed and they turned out fine. Better than fine. One of my original jars didn't seal and quickly got snacked away. So I made another 8 pints. Kansasa also has tutorials for various good ol' down home cooking goodness. And access to a neighbours fruit orchard that makes me green with envy. Especially the apricots that she makes into Apricot Brandy! Not to mention the slickest way to clean a fish.

I think that I have to go eat some tomatoes now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


in the main studio. I feel faint. Hundreds of cones and skeins of yarns. Hundreds of pounds of yarn. I think that we need to call in the professionals of else all of the yarn will go to waste. I hope that those in charge of the budget see the sense in an ounce of prevention. I also think that we will stop taking donations from various people who seem to think that we would be pleased to take their grandmothers musty yarn. I threw away some yarns last year that someone gave to us that was so musty that it made me wheeze. I think that some people look upon us as a place to dump stuff that they just can't throw away. I am not impressed with whoever it was that donated the moths. Because that must be how they got in. Hitchhiking on some innocent looking skein of yarn. This is the first year that we have had a problem (starting with the bit last year at Christmas). I cannot describe how I felt when I discovered the little blighters. A lot of dead ones, but where there are carcases, there are the potential for eggs and larva.

Pardon me. I need a drink.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's like a sickness

isn't it? The desire to spin finer and finer? It is like I am having a contest with myself to see if I can spin finer than the last skein. My sailor's delight is coming in at 43 wpi in its singles form. I am about 1/4 of the way through the second half of the 4oz bundle. I really don't think that I want to go any finer. I'll leave that to the spiders.
And on the other end of the spectrum is my fat slubby scarves. I had a lot of comments on them at market last weekend. I think the fact that it was a little on the cool side worked in my favour.
This is what my booth looked like after the wind knocked down part of my display. Three times. And one of those times part of what came down was my large black vase that I used to display my origami.

Good bye dear vase. I knew you well. Now I have to find a good substitute and maybe sign up for another pottery class.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Need a Laugh?

Many of you have probably already seen this. But for those of you who haven't........ This is what this poor woman wrote in the description portion of her sale on e-bay in which she is selling the Pokemon cards that one of her kids slipped into her grocery cart. If you don't like kids, or had perfect kids, or don't posses a sense of humor around the things that kids do, then just skip the link. For the rest of you.....

Adventures in Grocery Shopping