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Thursday, September 19, 2013


Hello dear friends!  So sorry for the long absence.   This year has been the most bounteous year for our garden.  So, of course,  my days have been spent canning and canning.  It would seem ungrateful to our Creator to waste such a harvest, so I feel spurred on to preserve as much as I can.  Although, I must admit I was a bit overjoyed when I heard that we might get a frost, so we picked the last of the tomatoes and pulled their vines.  Even after giving away bushels of them, we canned thirty-six
jars of spaghetti sauce, eight pints of ketchup, eight pints of chili sauce, sixteen quarts of tomatoes and ten pints of salsa.  Plus so many tomato sandwiches and bowls of panzanelli that I feared  we would turn into those little red fruits.  The same for the rest of the garden.  As a matter of fact we filled our little pantry, the back closet and Ran had to build me a little jelly cupboard which holds about one-hundred  and twenty jars, which we promptly filled.  Whew!   Even our little postage stamp orchard was busy.   The poor dears branches were bent with fruit. 
I'd never believe I'd say this, but I am quite tired of apple pies and blackberry cobblers!   We've yet to dig the potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. And Concord grapes and Brussels sprouts are still awaiting their moment.

Gardening and canning weren't the only activities, for summer is the season we stock up on wants and needs at garage and estate sales.   We started out on Memorial day with a long list and were quite amazed to find by the Labor day that we had crossed everything off our list.  And some of the items were quite  unusual, such as a magnifier for doing needlework and a primitive style Christmas tree.  And the lovely antiques I found this year!   An old overshot coverlet, a crock with a beautiful beehive stamp, a pretty majolica pitcher to add to my small collection (the first photograph) and even a braided rug that was the perfect colorway for our dining room. And all for pennies, as I am quite tight with my purse strings!

We also finished our little enclosed porch:
And made a friend with the young man that sold us the barn wood and the corrugated tin we used for the ceiling (oh my aching back from helping put that up!) This is the room my dear Ran practices his guitar.  What a joy it is to listen to him play while I'm preparing lunch,  It is the simple little routines such as that which make our lives so sweet.  I wouldn't want to trade my life for any celebrity or billionaire.  Besides, which billionaire has such nice blogging friends as you?

I don't know why, but it seems that autumn always encourages me to do something creative.  I've rediscovered the joy of embroidering.  Embroidering was the first needle art that learned at the ripe old age of five.  A few years back when cleaning out my mother's house, I found my first project; a potholder with a rooster.  The stitches were surprising small and even.  I'm not sure I could do any better today!

Baking is another art I learned at a very young age.  By the age of ten, I was responsible for baking all the goodies for my father's lunch pail, as my mother and sisters were not so talented in that regard.
But you don't need to be an experienced baker to make this cobbler:

TennTucky Blackberry Cobbler

Toss together 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/2 C. sugar and 6 C. blackberries.  Put into a greased 11 X 7 inch pan.

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2  C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Beat butter until fluffy.  Beat in sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each one.

Combine flour and baking powder.  Stir together sour cream and baking soda.  Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream mixture to butter mixture.  Combine until just blended.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, cover with aluminum foil to prevent the cobbler from browning too much and bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Note:  We have a lot of blackberries, but in the winter when I use a  pint jar of canned blackberries, I half this recipe and bake it in an 8 inch pan.  And I omit the sugar, as canned blackberries already have sugar.

As the garden wanes, I will try to be a better blogging friend and leave comments more often, as your friendship means so much to me. And I'll try to post more often and nicer entries that reflect my mission of hope and thrift.  Until next time, I hope you enjoy the lovely days of autumn!


Roasted Maple Tomato Ketchup

2 lbs. tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. oil
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. dry mustard  (powder)
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

slice tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Add gloves of garlic and drizzle with the olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

Remove tomatoes from the oven and when cool enough to work with, slip off the skins. Pour off the excess water. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender pitcher and puree until smooth.  (I don't own a blender so I use an old fashioned food mill for this step).

Transfer tomatoes to a saucepan, add remaining ingredients and simmer until ketchup thickens.


  1. So good to read your words again Jane :-) What a blessed, busy and bountiful summer you just experienced! It has been grand here also with all the farmers sharing with us, non-farmers, their delicious bounty. Your enclosed porch looks cozy and perfect for a winter day (I am assuming that it is now a cozy room just for that...or is it just a three season porch?) no is still cozy and lovely :-)

    much love to you,


    1. Hello dear Maria! I'm so glad you have nice neighbors that share their harvest with you. I find that most gardeners love to share, as it seems almost blasphemous to squander any of the bounty. The other day we gave a gallon of blackberries to our chimney sweep. He couldn't get over it, but really it wasn't as generous as he thought, because we are quite tired of them! He was doing us a favor by taking them away or I'd feel compelled to make some jam or jelly with them, which we really don't need any more of.

      The porch is just a three season porch, but because Ran blasts us out of the house when he makes a fire, Jamie and I are hoping leaving it open will heat that area and cool the rest of the house!

  2. Wow Jane, you have been busy!

    Your porch looks like it belongs in cottage magazine...I had to enlarge that picture, and laughed when I noticed your dog staring at Ran's guitar...I wonder what he's thinking? Maybe he likes to sing along when Daddy plays?
    Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts!
    ~God bless~ Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! Georgie is such a ham, he tries to get in every picture. He likes to listen to Ran play, I'm quite jealous that he prefers Ran's company to mine. He's so fickle!

  3. So good to hear from you. Your porch is darling! Do you have a good ketchup recipe? Does it keep well? I have always wanted to try to make it and here in GA I am still bringing in tons of tomatoes! Angela

    1. Thanks Angela! I've updated the post with the recipe I use for ketchup. Sometimes I'm lazy and use Mrs. Wages mix, which you can find near the canning supplies. I make larger quantities and can it using the pressure canner (10 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes), which is probably a bit of overkill but I prefer to error on the side of caution when it comes to canning. You can also freeze it. It last just as long as regular ketchup in the fridge. I guarantee you that once you taste homemade ketchup, you'll never go back to the store bought kind!

    2. You're very welcome, Angela!

  4. Oh dear Jane ~ How good to read such a delightful and productive post from you. You and Ran have been really busy with your sweet cottage and I know you're both enjoying his retirement.

    Hope to hear more from you during the winter as you huddle into your cozy home.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hello sweet Rainey! It's hard to believe that Ran has been retired for a year now. He still hasn't slowed down. Just came to the door with a wheelbarrow of apples and pears. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow! Sending you a hug, my dear friend!

  5. I loved this. Your mission of hope and thrift came through loud and clear. It has inspired me. Your home is so lovely and looks so cozy and warm. I made cobbler for the first time in my life-and I can't wait to use your recipe for my second time.

    1. Oh thank you so much for your very kind words. I forgot to add that the cobbler works well with other fruits also. For years I didn't make cobblers because my husband said he didn't like them, until I found this recipe. It's certainly a quick job to make one up and a lot easier than pie.

  6. I pop by every now and then to see if you've posted. How rewarding to find this lovely report of a good garden and your busy preserving and canning. Our garden was not as productive this year with too much rain--I don't know whether to be relieved that I haven't got canning to do or disappointed--mostly hoping for a better garden next year!
    Your new room looks so cozy.

    1. Last year we had a drought and I'm ashamed to admit it but I didn't really miss the mess and work of canning. But I really missed those jars every time I had to buy a can of tomatoes or green beans! Now that we are pensioners, I'm grateful for every one of those jars. Hopefully you'll have better luck next year. It seems you usually have a year of bounty after a meager year in the garden. I guess it's because the soil gets a nice rest.

  7. Dear Jane,

    What a productive summer you've had! I always try to imagine what it would be like to actually have enough berries to do something with, before they disappear down little mouths~ blessed you! :) The porch looks so nice, and I bet it's nice to have the extra space. Your majolica is precious, and looks perfect with your sign. May your autumn be as blessed as your summer.



    1. Thank you dear Marqueta! I've been thinking of you as your due date draws near. Once you get your dream farm, just plant two Thorsens Thornless blackberry bushes, and you'll have more berries than an entire village of dear little Graham children could eat! I'm not kidding, they really produce. When I see how expensive blackberries are in the store, I realize that we are indeed rich. We're blackberry billionaires!

  8. Beautiful Jane! You have been busy and productive. That cobbler recipe looks like an old kugan recipe that I lost, so I will copy it! I bet that ketchup is good too! My tomatoes were very slow in ripening this year...and I didn't give away lots like I did last year, but they are enough to keep me happy. I want to do some embroidery too....I find it hard since I have to put on's been several years and I still find that difficult!

    1. A lot of people had the same complaint about their tomatoes here, Andrea. Strange. My optometrist tells me I'm "lucky" because I have so many astigmatisms in my eyes, I don't need bifocals. But I'm so nearsighted I must wear my glasses to watch TV but have to take them off to do needlework, so I can't do both at the same time. Not that there's anything to watch on TV anyway. We got rid of or cable and I can't say that I miss it. My husband has the opposite problem. As he aged his nearsightedness improved so now he had 20/20 vision at a distance, but he has to wear readers for close up work. He can't get over the fact I don't need them and is always testing me at the drugstore eyeglass department.

    2. Interesting..ha..that is cute about your husband "testing" you..

  9. Hi Jane - its good to hear from you. You have been so fortunate with the harvest in your garden and the rows and rows of jars must make you feel very satisfied with all your hard work. We have finally found a home with some land (about 2/3 acre) and will be moving in the next couple of months. We will be near my family once more and I can't wait to feel 'at home' at last. I have come around to thinking that its way more important for us all to be close than for me to move to Devon where I will be hundreds of miles away from family and have my husband weekly commuting forever. The decision was a long time coming (literally years!) but I am now satisfied its the right one. Once we are moved I hope to start posting again. With love, Lily. xxx

    1. Good to hear from you too, Lily! It's probably a good idea to live near family and have your husband at home since your son is so young. You can always follow your dream later in life. 2/3 of an acre is a nice size. You can do a lot with it. Can't wait to read your posts. Please keep me updated as to when you start blogging again.

  10. I can't believe I missed your post.

    Your house always looks so inviting. Of course all the yummy home preserved foods help. ��

    I am ready for is truly my favorite time of year.

    1. Mine too Shara! We were just out gathering rose hips today from some wild roses. So beautiful! What is it about Autumn that makes a person feel more alive?

  11. Jane ~ I missed this post before...but anyhow, I'm glad to catch up with you and am now following!
    The effort you have put into your home and garden is so inspiring! The mason jars of glorious veggies are really beautiful, and I bet the jellies are too.
    My hubbie practises guitar before breakfast (!) and dinner also ~ and it makes me happy to hear him strumming, likewise.
    I'm glad you had a happy and productive summer together.
    One more thing...oh! to have a 'postage stamp ' of my little pipe_dreams is to have an orchard, bees and snow white turtle doves like in the song * I'd like to teach the world to sing*
    from the advert of a Well-Known Beverage years ago. (I'm showing my age now...)

    Blessings to you,

    1. Thank you Alex! I can use all the encouragement I can get. I remember that jingle also. We were all so idealistic back then. A postage stamp orchard doesn't take much space. We planted one at our first house and it was the typical small city lot. In reality you only need one or two trees to get enough fruit for a family. One of my greatest pleasures is to listen to my husband play the guitar. During the years that we were raising the boys and making a living he didn't have time to practice very often. I'm amazed at how quickly he regained his skills.

  12. You DID update! And I was late to the party again! So nice to hear of your summer adventures and busy-ness.

    Since I cleaned out my "ugly room" and can get to the book cases and actually find what I'm looking for, I've been on a reading jag--until I broke my glasses! I've bee wearing an old pair to get by until I can get my newer ones fixed, and my arms are barely long enough to hold a book far enough away that I can focus, yet near enough to still be able to read the print. So now I am watching old movies, instead!

    Our summer harvest has been long gone, the heat pretty much killed everything off, but we are hoping for a moderate winter and at least some carrots and pumpkins and maybe some winter squash. We finally got some much needed rain, so the ground may even be workable now.

    So nice to hear from you every time you get a chance to stop by!


    1. I hope to be able to stop by more often, Charlene, as the garden is put to bed. Every time I clean out my bookshelves, I go on a reading jag also. I start by piling up the books I think I can get rid of, then start reading them to refresh my memory of the plot and pretty soon I've reread the entire book. Right now I have The Widow's War on the nightstand, but just started reading it and had to stop to finish up a sweater I'm knitting for a birthday present.

      Was hoping that when we got rid of the cable, I'd be able to enjoy some of the many old movies I have on tape and DVDs, but no such luck. My problem is I have so many projects to complete for birthdays and Christmas and I can't watch the screen and do them at the same time. Need my glasses to see the screen (I'm as blind as a bat) and for working close up I have to take them off. I have the opposite problem of most folks my age.

      Just dug all the root crops and gathered up the pumpkins and winter squash. Last night we made a meal of all the root vegetables roasted. Oh boy! Was it ever good.

  13. Your enclosed porch looks very inviting!

  14. I was catching up on my blog reading, and was happy to find your new posts! Love your enclosed porch, what a nice room! Your canning looks beautiful, and your recipes sound delicious! Roasted Maple Tomato Ketchup- Yum! I love the idea of apple and pear trees in my garden, I am hoping to squeeze in some espaliers next year along the fence, I am lucky this year with apples though, as my son's girlfriend and her sister picked me a large box full from their garden, it was such a nice surprise.

    I know what you mean about fall, it always inspires me to get crafting. I look forward to catching up on your other post as well. :)