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Monday, August 22, 2016

SHORT AND SWEET

Hello dear friends!  Well, here I am, a day late and a dollar short.  Today I promise to keep this post short and sweet, so it doesn't feel like a school assignment.  Speaking of school assignments, I hope you all are taking advantage of the back-to-school sales.  Even if you don't have any schoolchildren, now's the time to stock up on pens and paper.  I bought half a dozen notebooks for 17 cents each.  I use them to make my own ledgers  (keeping track of money is so important) and for recipe books. I even use them to make scrapbooks of articles that I cut from magazines and copy from the internet.  We have no space to store old magazines, just wasted space, besides most magazines now days are all advertisements, when you get down to the meat and potatoes of them, you're lucky to have ten pages worth reading.

Oh yes!  I promised not to be long-winded this post!  The last few days have been  beautiful.  There's a cool breeze of the lake and because of the drought, the leaves on the trees have turned yellow and are falling off.  If a person squints just right, you can imagine it is Fall.  Our peach trees are heavy with fruit this year.
I'm very pleased with the trees that we bought last year from R.H. Shumway, the are producing well without the wait.  I'll probably order a few more this Spring.  I don't receive any sort of compensation from the company, just am happy with their products and thought I'd let you in on the secret that you don't have to pay expensive nursery prices to get nice fruit trees.

So anyway,  been busy here with canning, as usual.  This week it was peaches, of course, blackberries, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and potatoes.  We always cull the small potatoes when we dig them and can them instead of letting them wither in storage.  They make for a convenient meal.  It's rather silly, I know, but I'm very proud of how lovely my jars of potatoes look.  Vanity, thy name is woman!

Well, I couldn't write a post without giving some sort of lesson, could I?  So here's how I can my tomatoes:

Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Remove the skins and core the tomatoes.  Crush them with your hand and place in a large stockpot.  Heat and simmer the tomatoes until most of the watery liquid has evaporated and you are left with just tomatoes and it's own juice.  Pack into hot sterilized quart jars with 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of canning salt.  Put on caps and lids and process in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.

I broke two jars while canning the tomatoes.  The first one I just chalked up to it being an old jar, I've inherited quite a few jars from my parents who had inherited many from my grandparents, so some of these jars are pretty close to ninety years old... Anyway, it wasn't until I broke the second jar, that I figured out the problem.  I was putting the cold lemon juice in the hot jar first, and that little bit of cold against the hot glass was causing the jars to crack.  So now I add the lemon juice mid-way in the packing process.

In spite of the drought, our garden did pretty well this year.  Daily we are harvesting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, blackberries and peaches.  Today I have to pick crabapples and make jelly.  Ran always makes a jug of wine from them.  I love how vibrant the food is, when it is fresh-picked from the garden.
Aren't these Turkish eggplants beautiful? 
And here's the beginnings of a wonderful moussaka with the golden and red tomatoes.  And of course, now's the time to make pizza, while the vegetables are ready for the pickings!
Life is so good!

Inside I'm rushing the season, by rearranging the house for cooler weather.  We live in a tiny dollhouse-sized home, and I treat it like a dollhouse, rearranging the furniture on a whim.  Friends never know what to expect when they visit. 
Yesterday, I moved  a table to the middle of the sitting room in preparation for tea beside the fire.  The tablecloth is just an old shawl that was convenient,  later I switched it to that beautiful throw I wrote about in the previous post.  I placed some oak branches that had blown off the tree in an old McCoy vase with blackberries on it and replaced the lighter colored throw with a golden knitted one (that I bought for a few dollars at a thrift store) on the chair.  It's a start.  I love Fall and always get so excited when it approaches.  Just thinking about sweaters and tights and fires and pumpkin pie fills my heart with joy!

THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK

Canned 24 pints of potatoes, 8 quarts of tomaotes, 6 pints of spaghetti sauce, 8 pints of peaches and 8 pints of blackberries.

Dehydrated a half-bushel of peppers.

Sewed a table runner from some fabric scraps.

Started knitting an Outlander-type shawl from the many skeins of tweed yarn I have left over from many projects.

Ate chili, moussaka, pizza and scalloped potatoes, all from garden produce and pantry.

We pledged not to use the car for two weeks, so far so good.

For entertainment, I rearranged the sitting room (that's entertainment to me) and watched some really old movies on YouTube .  We enjoyed the cooler weather and went for many walks.

That's another week at the old Sweet Briar Cottage.  Hope you have a wonderful golden sunshiny week!

Hugs
Jane







37 comments:

  1. Hi Jane! This is my favorite post so far this summer from you...because I, too, get excited for thinking of fall coming soon!! Your meals look so delicious and colorful! Your pizza especially! Yum. God has blessed you with your garden produce. I appreciate the tip about the cold lemon juice cracking the jars. Do you just spoon the lemon juice and salt onto your canned tomatoes (which now you do mid-way) or do you mix it at all? I appreciate the directions on how to can crushed tomatoes.

    Ha....I love to re-arrange furniture. It makes me feel as if I bought something new. Thanks! Andrea

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    1. Hi Andrea! Yep, just spoon the lemon juice and salt on top of the tomatoes. It gets mixed up in the processing. I started making crushed tomatoes because I always crush them after I open them anyway. Plus this method, you don't have to fiddle with the boiling water which dilutes the flavor. Just tomatoes and their juice. Another add plus is that you don't get floating tomatoes that happen when you can them whole or halved.

      Well, if you buy a new house, you'll have the ultimate in rearranging furniture! Ha! I have different items up in the attic, for each season, so we can have a change of view. When you really spend so much time at home, you really need a change from time to time. How's the house-hunting going?

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Thanks. Your advice for things like the tomato canning is very helpful! Oh my....I will probably drive myself crazy re-arranging furniture...it took me decades to realize what was best for this house..ha.. We didn't house-hunt yet...it is coming up. I'm a bit nervous as to how it will go; I hope it is positive. Meanwhile our realtor hasn't listed our house yet so I am wondering if we miscommunicated the timing. Hugs, Andrea

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    3. Don't be nervous, Andrea, it should be fun!

      I hear you on the furniture arrangement. In the house we owned in Wisconsin, I never did figure out how to arrange the furniture. It was one of those open concept type houses and the living area was so immense. You had to float the furniture out in the middle of the room or you'd be shouting across the room to your guests. Floating furniture is fine for gentile people, but with a houseful of boys that throw themselves on the davenport it's another story. I was always pushing the furniture back into place. And I never did figure out an arrangement to take advantage of the beautiful fireplace. I'll take my teen tiny house any day of the week over that fancy big one.

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  2. I am "rushing the season" too - can't help myself! I love fall, but even more, I love what comes after: winter. I am a snow and cold and dark kind of person and have been thinking of tights and fingerless mitts and my beloved clogs which are waiting patiently for me in the closet.
    Your home is beautiful. My house is also tiny - less than 800 sq. feet! But I don't have the decorating bug so it stays pretty simple. I do enjoy bringing in bits of the outside though. Your oak leaves made me smile - I've a little bunch on my desk as I type this!
    God bless,
    Dana

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    1. It's good to read that I'm not the only cold-weather person, Dana. When my southern friends are bragging about 70 degree weather on Christmas day, I can't understand why they'd think that's something wonderful. I love snow.

      Our house is less than 800 sq. feet also. One of the nicest things about a tiny house is that you really live in all the rooms. There's a not an inch of wasted space. Plus the entire house can be cleaned from top to bottom in a few hours.

      That's funny about the oak leaves. Great minds do think alike! Ha!
      Here's to Fall-like weather!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Hi Jane!
    Never apologize for long posts. I'm sure we all love them. As with you I've been canning for a long time. Occasionally I'll break a jar and I will attribute it to cold packing or an ancient jar but about 3 years ago at the end of summer in a particular canning session of tomatoes and peaches I broke 4 and then later 2 more on the same day. They were a combination of old jars and some brand new because I ran low on quarts after a lot of canning that year and it overall just didn't make sense. I later went to something that included an educator from Washington State University on the east side of our state involved in their extension program for gardening and canning. She told me air pressure and change of weather can also break jars. I don't know if that was the cause but I hope that never happens again. I'm not sure which is worse. Losing a jar or opening a canner full of floating fruit and glass. Thanks for your post. - Sharon

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    1. That's very interesting, Sharon. I wonder what weather conditions are best for canning. It's always such a mess when a jar breaks in the canner especially peaches in syrup (I like to can mine in heavy syrup). It seems you never can wash all the stickiness off of the other jars.I've run out of quart jars . Had no idea how expensive they were getting, as I haven't bought any new in a long time. Too bad it's so late in the garage sale season! Hopefully I'll find some during Labor Day weekend. Thanks again for the information! Just proves you can learn something new, even if you been doing something for decades!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. Hi Jane! Your menu for the week sounds delicious. I must grow some of those Turkish squashes next year. Did you get the seeds from Shumway's? I have ordered from them before and was pleased with my orders. I even ordered the stainless asparagus pot they use to carry, and I love it.
    Goodman and I want to downsize when he retires. I can't wait to have my own life-sized dollhouse. This old farmhouse is drafty, lol.
    Hope your week is super duper.
    Toni

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    1. Hi Toni! I got the Turkish eggplant seeds from Pinetree Gardens. They have the best prices and a lot of interesting varieties. You'll love that eggplant. It doesn't have the bitter aftertaste that some eggplant has. Only drawback is that they are small, so it takes more prep work.

      Having lived in an old Victorian, I can commiserate about the draftiness of them. This little house stays toasty with just a few cords of wood in the winter. And it is fun to own a dollhouse. The weather has cooled down here, hope you are staying cool down your way!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. Oh Jane your table is lovely! I was cleaning out my hutch last week and was so tempted to get the friendly village teacups out. I am so over this hot, humid summer! Which is not unusual for us but it started in May! I can feel smug sometimes about our lovely spring weather while New Englanders are buried in snow still but I NEVER feel smug in July and August. I just can't take the heat like I used to- just takes the starch right outa me. Angela

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    1. It's been a scorcher this year, Angela. I'm sure it's taken the starch out of most people. Unfortunately our forecast calls for an unseasonably warm Fall. I'm hoping they are wrong as usual. Ha!

      Andrea has a new blog: http://homemakingandgardening.blogspot.com/

      So we got our member of our little community back!

      Hope you get some cooler weather soon!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Jane thank you for the lesson on canning tomatoes and the hint about when to add the lemon juice in the process. You have done really well on the frugal front. I'm with you on wanting to get ready for Fall. I think it is my favorite time of year!

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    1. Mine too, Debbie! I;m hoping it will be a pretty Fall. I guess there's always something new to learn on the canning front. Wh would have thought that tiny little bit of lemon juice would cause such a mess! Hope you have a well-rested week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. I've never heard of Shumway's. Where have I been? Your peaches look great!
    I'm enjoying this cooler weather too Jane. So glad the heat is just not for me!

    Have a blessed week!

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    1. It's a mail-order company Vickie. The apple trees I order had fruit the first year we planted them. I've ordered from other companies and it takes forever for the trees to bear fruit (Stark Brothers). I was really impressed. Are getting a lot of rain? It's rained every day this past week. The grass has turned green again. Sure could have used it in July, but I guess we have to be grateful for what we get!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. Hello Jane, I like all your post whether they are long or short and sweet.
    Your canned tiny potatoes sound so nice. Potatoes usually get quite expensive as the winter goes on.
    YouTube is a budget helping friend. I don't know if you like The Great British Bakeoff but it is about my favorite show ever. Season 6 starts this week and I expect the episodes will soon be on YouTube.

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up on the baking show Rhonda! I've love all those British shows. I just finished up The Great British Sewing Bee. They sure have some talented bakers over the pond. Some of those things they are required to bake sound like it would be an impossibility to even attempt. It's also funny when the bakers use common American flavor combination like chocolate and peanut butter and the judges think it's so odd.

      The little canned potatoes are so convenient for making stews and pot pies. Plus we only grow heirloom varieties like Rose Finn, German Butterballs, and French Fingerlings. I saw the price of a mixed bag of those types in the store and they were something like $5 a pound! We are potato billionaires! The do taste completely different than commercial potatoes. Hope you are having a fun week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. dear jane,
    lovely post,again! after cold and rainy days arrived a heat wave my country. that is good for my tomatoes but not for me. i am not a fan of extremly heat....i like autumn and winter.
    i have knit a few row on my never-ending shawl...
    have a nice week,
    hugs , regina

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    1. We seem to being the opposite weather this year, Regina. Well, hopefully you'll get tomatoes from it. It only took me one week from finishing my never-ending shawl, to start another shawl project. So much for making pledges to never do that again! Hoe you get a few perfect days! THey do so much good for the soul!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  10. Morning, Jane! Sweet Briar looks so cozy this morning! Don't you love the seasonal transitions? Thank goodness we have seasons! I love them, don't you? We are feeling the cool Fall promise, too. It was 53-degrees here yesterday morning! Windows are open and we are savoring the change in humidity!

    We are canning tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! Been watching the random apple trees, too. Every Sunday we take a ride through the mountain, picking samples, to determine if they are ready for picking. I love wild crafting and coming home with something more to eat in winter! We found a cider press!!!! at the local antique store! It is a very old cast iron one that will only hold half dozen apples at a time, but that is fine! I talked them down 10% and ended up paying $60 for it! That is less than 10% of the price of a new one! I am so excited! Cider for the first time in years! Yay!

    Well, I am back to the coal mines this week, so I must dash for now! Talk soon?

    as ever.. m

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    1. Hey Matty! It's been cooler here too. We've been checking the wild grapes. Looks like I'm going to have to supplement them with some of the Concords this year if I want any jelly.

      I'm through with canning tomatoes and we pulled most of the plants. Just kept enough for eating.

      Lucky you on the cider press! I've seen them at various estate sales, but they are still too pricey for our pocketbook. I'm so disappointed that all the apples fell off my Rhode Island Greening during the drought. There was only one left on the tree. I went out to check on it and a bird had taken a bite out of it. Well another year before I pick any!

      Hope this year will be an easy one for you in the coal mines! Yes, let's talk soon!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. Love your post, and I am so glad that life is good. You do have a lot of peaches! I had 2 peaches off my tree this year. But I am enjoying my fresh tomatoes.
    My computer is acting wonky so don't know if this reply is working or if it wil post multiple times. Hope you have a good week.

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    1. Well, if you can only have one, tomatoes are far, far better than peaches, Kathy. Maybe next year, you'll get more peaches. There's always next year!

      My computer is acting wonky lately too. It keeps zooming in.(?!) I have to reset the page every few minutes. But then I always have computer problems no one else has! I have a real love/hate relationship with them.

      Hope your computer straightens up and acts right soon!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  12. Debbie in the U.P.August 24, 2016 at 6:05 PM

    Hi, Jane! Lovely post! I like Fall, too. Summer heat sucks the life out of me. Being so far North you wouldn't think it would be so hot. But, we've hit nineties many days this year..bech…No tomatoes, either. I think i'll just buy them from now on.
    I passed on the after school sales. Target wanted 4$ for the journals i liked; too dear for my budget. I still have a few from previous sales.
    Our little cottage is 600 sq. feet. We could use more room but this is what we have so we're doing what we can. (I guess that makes me a member of the little house 'tribe'.) Actually, i love it! As you said, easy to clean and not too hard on the budget. It's still a fixer-upper; i don't know what we'd do if we had a home that was totally finished!
    Question: How do you slice your (dehydrated) peppers and what do you use them in? Do you reconstitute them before you use them? The only vegetable i've dried, that i like, has been mushrooms. The carrots and zucchini were just a bit too chewy for my taste. I've frozen peppers and i'm not too fond of them frozen, either, although i still eat them that way. Thanks!
    Have a fabulous week!
    Debbie in the U.P.

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    1. Well you know it's a miserable Summer when it's 90 in the UP, Debbie!

      I dice the peppers into tiny 1/4" cubes. We use a handy-dandy device called a Vidalia Chop Wizard, that makes quick work of it. We rehydrate them in boiling water until they are soft. They end up being as good as fresh and a far side better than any we can buy in the winter, which we use on pizzas. You can just throw them into soups and stews without rehydrating them. We also grind our dried paprika and chili peppers to make our own paprika and chili powder.

      I can answer what you'd do if your home was totally finished- go nuts! I once owned a house that was new and completely finished and it drove me crazy. Give me a nice (or not so nice) fixer-upper any day of the week. Hope this week has been cooler for you!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. The pizza looks so delicious ♥

    summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

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    1. It was, Summer! My husband is a first-class pizza baker.

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  14. If I grew those vegetables and fruits...and canned them....I would be proud of them as well! and making lots of pictures! LOL That pizza sure looks good. Hope y'all are having a nice weekend your way. I re-arrange our home alot too. I've always been that way

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    1. I'll never understand people that don't like decorating. It's the fun part of owning a home. Canning is my hobby. I get quite a bit of enjoyment out of doing it!

      HUgs
      Jane

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  15. Dear Jane,

    Your house looks so sweet! Someday I'll be able to put shawls on tables, and they'll stay there. :)

    I'm so glad that you have such a supply stored up for winter; sorry about the broken jars, though!

    Love,

    Marqueta

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    1. Unless you're an old spinster, the shawl thing doesn't work, Marqueta. Men have a knack for laying tools, loose change, business cards. etc. on any flat surface. Right now my pretty little tableau has guitar picks, some sort of tool, and matchboxes messing it up. Sigh! Men are just large little boys!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Ha ha! Since my husband won't be reading this, I'll have to agree. :)

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