Roasted Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes are our big crop. I plant a lot of plants and we bring in more tomatoes than anything else. When it comes to preserving them though...I am not too fond of the standard process. Most canning guides have you boil them, ice them, skin them and take out the seeds. There are 2 things I don't like about that process. One, it takes way too long and way too many dishes. Two, it's a lot of waste. I want to use all the tomato.

I have been asked for my sauce recipe. I posted it a couple years ago, Val at Collecting the Moments has posted her version as well.

Here's what you will need:

olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

And I will warn you, I am one of those process cooks as opposed to a recipe follower....

Step one is to halve your tomatoes and place them in a large roasting pan. I tend to over-fill mine. I use mostly Roma tomatoes as there is less water in them and more meat. But when I make this my pan looks like the picture below. And this is a large, Thanksgiving turkey kind of roasting pan.

Next add garlic. I use a whole head. I bruise it, take the skins of and cut the cloves in half.

Next up, onion. I use about 1 medium. Cut in quarters. You can omit it or add more depending on your taste.

Sprinkle liberally with [sea] salt, pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Don't skimp on either of these.

Dig your hands in and toss it all up until everything is nice and coated. Then stick it in the oven for 45 minutes or so at 400*. You want the skins shriveled and starting to blacken in a couple places.

When it's done cooking, transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl. I use my crock pot. It's up to you whether or not to get all the juices. I find the sauce too thin when I add them all. So I just make sure to get all the onion, garlic and tomatoes.

Add a whole lot of fresh basil and oregano (I am sure dry would work too). Then blend it up. I use my immersion blender. I have used my food processor in batches too. Keep blending. Then give it a taste. Add more salt, pepper, balsamic, olive oil, a drizzle of honey...until it tastes how you want.

Then you can place it in jars, containers, freezer bags and freeze it for later. If you check out Val's page, she can tell you more about canning sure to read the comments.

Then go out to the garden and repeat the process again.


Balance: In Reading

I have always been a reader- well at least up until I had kids anyway. Now I read for myself when I can, but usually I am reading for or to the kids. But that isn't the point....

There are so many different books out there- both fiction and non- some of which I would like my kids to read and some I would rather steer clear and avoid altogether.

My kids are not exactly avid readers. They are avid listeners. And they enjoy reading picture books to themselves, but the key there is the pictures. But when it comes to chapter books there have been few that grab their attention enough to make them want to read, to themselves, outside of the their required 30 minutes a day. I have hopes for Cohen and Lakin- who can't quite read long, picture-less books yet. Cohen will sit down and read chapter books- at least the words he can.

So when my oldest found the Horrible Harry books- which are not exactly literature, but not too bad- I was happy that he was reading for pleasure. When Paul and the boys read the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, I was equally pleased. They were reading!

For school reading I require 2 things-
1. Read 30 minutes a day. I do encourage the older 2 to read novels as opposed to picture books.
2. Read a novel of my choice once a month. These are ones I ask questions about as they read 1 chapter a day.

These are more carefully selected. More classic. More substance. They hate the questions, because they tend to not read very carefully, but they usually enjoy the books.

But in the name of balance, in the name of reading, I now have 2 books I always swore I would never have in my house sitting in our book basket.


And that is okay. I read my fair share of non-literature growing up. When I was Rylan's age I lived on R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike books. And I am okay. I still turned into a teen who asked for a dictionary (think big, 20 lb Webster's dictionary) for Chirstmas. And while I spent a lot of time reading V.C. Andrews I also spent a lot of time reading Anne Tyler.

There is a place in the world for all books. Either for learning, entertainment or just escape reality and get lost in a world not your own. And it's okay that my oldest has read The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants over and over in the past couple weeks because he's also been pouring over an illustrated version of Beowulf and just started reading The Book of Three. Balance.


It's the Little Things in Life

Annika has a love for all things tiny.

When she is cranky, pulling out a tray of something small always peps her up

She loved this glass one best of all. This particular yellow one only. The rest she left alone. This one she held- for a long time.

Her fascination with these things helps during school time too. When she plays with bigger, small things- like golf tees or piles of popsicle sticks.

It's giving her quite the pincer grasp. Helpful during dinner time. Not so much when she's on the floor picking up 1 tiny dog hair.



Annika- 7 months

7 months

She is getting so close to crawling- but settles for rolling where she wants to go

She loves to be outside and in the grass

She loves tiny things. Tiny things she can't have except under strict supervision. Like chickpeas. Or game pieces. Or jewelery.

She uses her feet for everything. She holds on with hands and feet. Her toes are like fingers and she wraps them around things just the same.

She loves to laugh at her brothers, who love to make her laugh.

She's a snuggler; a hugger and currently a complete Momma's girl.


The Bremen Town Musicians

Today was our production of an adaptation of The Bremen Town Musicians...

The scene is set
The Dog, the Donkey, the Cat and the Rooster (and their horse) are enjoying life on the barnyard. Until one day....

They over hear the farmer and his wife talking.

And fearing for their lives, they decide to go to Bremen Town and become famous musicians.

When they stop to rest they spot a house and decide to sing to the occupants to earn some supper.

Little did the animals know, the house was inhabited by cruel robbers.

The robbers are frightened by the animals' singing, and when they run the animals decide to eat some dinner and rest while waiting for them to return.

The robbers return to find out who has stolen their hideout.

And slowly, one creeps toward the house to see.

But in the dark he steps on the cat's tail and is attacked by all the animals, who don't know what is going on.

The robbers flee, leaving the house- and all the stolen food and money- with the animals. They decide to stay and live out the rest of their lives right there.

The End.

The kids did such a good job! The spoke loud and clear and remembered their lines. And my Rylan, who was so nervous and refused to even say one word during our first read-through months ago, said his lines loudly and looked right at the audience too!


How My Garden Grows: July 18, 2011

That's the view as I walk out of the back gate towards the garden. Butternut squashes on the ground, my 5 ft tomatoes behind them, the tips of corn in the back and okra on the side. There's more, but that's the bulk of it. Eggplants and peppers are hidden behind the towering plants, along with a separate bed of more tomatoes. My cucumbers are all gone except for the lemon ones, as are the squashes. But the farmer's co-op was getting rid of their old plants and Paul brought a bunch of [free] ones home. Lots more peppers, white eggplant and watermelon. So the holes are now filled.

Baby butternut squashes....

and my herbs- including 3 sweet basil and 2 cinnamon basil

Tonight's pickings. The larger basket was all tomatoes, the smaller was some tomatoes, peppers, lemon cucumbers and okra.

To heavy for some of the boys to carry

And the view of my table where the tomatoes are taking over.

Ready to be made into sauce...

I am currently averaging about 3 qts a night

And not so much how my garden grows, but how the chickens grow...Our babies are about 10 wks old now and we finally let them out in the yard with the big chickens and dogs tonight. They enjoyed the freedom and grass and didn't get picked on too much by the older birds.

These are the boys' top hat breeds.

They are pretty funny looking. You can't even see their eyes half the time.

Lakin's has a crossed beak, but it doesn't seem to be bothers by it so far.