Saturday, July 10, 2010

Flashback to the Fourth

Has it been a busy week for you all?  Only a four-day workweek for me, but since the weekend spilled over, it seemed as busy as any normal week.  Mom and Dad were here, and we had a wonderful visit.  We had a very busy Fourth!

We started out with the tomatoes.  (Well, actually, we started out slowly, with some reading of the paper, brief blogging, maybe a little breakfast...)  We had bought about 20 pounds of tomatoes at the market on Saturday, in preparation for our first Tomato Canning Day. 

Mom was the honored guest, as she spent years--decades?--canning all sorts of fruits and vegetables in our old Ohio farmhouse.  When Miss Chef and I started canning, I realized I hadn't paid nearly enough attention as a child, so it was nice to have the expert back for a little consultation.

While Mom and I cored the roma tomatoes for sauce, Miss Chef blanched and peeled whole beefsteaks to be canned...whole.

This shot above shows the preparations for the sauce and a small batch of salsa.  There are two bowls of chopped onions and garlic, plus red peppers and a jalapeno for the salsa.  In the foreground is Mom's legacy to Miss Chef and me: the Victorio strainer.

This baby saw a LOT of action when I was growing up.  Besides tomatoes, Mom used it to make applesauce and to puree pumpkin flesh to freeze for pies.  Thanks to Miss Chef, it has found a good second home with us.

Here's a shot of the strainer in action:
It works like a meat grinder, except instead of coming out of the end, the sauce comes out through sieve-like perforations in the cylinder.  The seeds and skins come out the end on the left, into a reject bowl. Then we usually run the reject back through a second time, capturing a surprising amount of extra Good Stuff.  Finally the reject goes out to the compost pile.

I like to think the farmers would be pleased to know that nothing is wasted.

While the sauce and salsa were cooking on the stove (making for a very humid afternoon), Mom showed Miss Chef how to pack whole tomatoes.

We've had trouble in the past with these, since we hadn't smooshed them in hard enough.  I knew Mom had lots of experience smooshing, and Miss Chef said she learned a lot.  Between them, they got ten pounds of tomatoes into four quart jars.  We also ended up with four or five pints of marinara and a pint and a half of salsa.  (Sorry, I didn't get pictures of the finished jars.)

That's not nearly enough.  We're gonna have to have another Tomato Canning Day soon.

Well, all work and no play is no way to spend a holiday, so Miss Chef and I had decided sort of last-minute to have a cookout for the four of us.  As usual, most of this ended up being Miss Chef's responsibility...but she's so good at it!  She even set a festive table--check out that bottle of pomegranate martini.

And who says grills are the men's domain, hmmmm?
That firepit was a gift from my brother a couple of birthdays ago.  It's much bigger than our Weber charcoal grill!  The foil bundles are cored peaches sprinkled with brown sugar.  And that was before we started making s'mores.

Earlier Miss Chef had made me laugh--and maybe roll my eyes a little--in the grocery store, because she couldn't make it past the fireworks display right inside the front door.  But after dinner, as dusk rolled in, I was as happy as anyone to start lighting things on fire.   In between, we were able to watch some rather impressive fireworks over the treetops.  I'm not even sure where they were coming from, but they sure made us happy.

Poor Rosie did not enjoy our own little pyrotechnic display at all.  She was uncomfortable with the noise, but wanted to be near me, but I was responsible for the noise, but she wanted to be near me...  I finally ended up inside with her, while everybody else watched the last of the distant fireworks displays.  She seemed pretty pleased with herself.  Or maybe I'm projecting.

The next-morning's aftermath of our little celebration:

Even though the official holiday was over, we had one more big event in store, and this suited Rosie much better than the fireworks.  On Tuesday, the crew finally showed up to install what I'm considering her birthday present!

A new fence!  Now instead of being tethered to a run line, unable to follow us to the garden or explore her entire territory, Rosie has full run of our back yard. 

I'm not one-hundred percent happy with the idea of stringing yet another intrusive fenceline across the land, but I have to admit we've really been enjoying it.  Long summer evenings puttering in the garden without either tying Rosie, or having to keep a constant eye on her, are very enjoyable.  And I think Rosie's loving getting to know her yard.

She even got pets from two neighbors Thursday night.  Good dog!

We got split-rail fencing with a wire interior to match our neighbors' fences, but the contractor doesn't do split-rail gates because they are guaranteed to sag.  So we ended up with these lovely gates:

Rosie's not so sure about that whole fence thing when I'm on the other side...

There's lots more to share from Flartopia, but I think we all need a little break from all this crazy excitement, don't you?  I'm ready to enjoy a quiet weekend now!


  1. Everytime I read your blog I get hungry!! :) Mmmmmm, tomatoes are my fav.
    Sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. Well, except Rosie. But now that she has full run of the yard I'm sure she will forgive all the noise from the other night. :)

  2. My Mother used to can, and her tomatoes and juice were the best! I wish I hadn't been such a snot of a kid, and had learned from her how to do it.

  3. AJ, there's very little that disturbs that dog. She was fine with the more distant fireworks. I'd be nervous, too, if I were covered with flammable hair!

    Louise, it's not too late to learn! Miss Chef figured most of it out using books, specifically one published by Ball, and Canning & Preserving for Dummies. I just stood by, pretending to dispense wisdom.

  4. Been a long time since I've been reading blogs and I am not sure when you changed your background but I love the new look!! I have already using the Canning & Preserving for Dummies book this year and my Mom copied a recipe out of it too - thanks again for that! Your garden looks terrific, your fence is fab, and you have made me hungry too! It was so nice to catch up with what's happening in your world!

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful 4th! Even Rosie got something good out of it...

    Nancy in Iowa

  6. Sounds like you had a nice 4th of July! I bet Rosie does love her new fenced in yard she can explore and run around in. Thanks for the book suggestion, I will check that out before next year's garden.


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