Friday, October 31, 2008

Dr. NoBeard

I've been searching for Nate and his face.
Have you seen him?

Maybe he's hiding behind something.

Perhaps he got hung up somewhere.

There he is, I found him!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

too many tomatoes

At 4:00 on Sunday afternoon Nate sits at the computer and apparently checks the weather. At 4:01 Sunday afternoon he leaps out of his chair and yells, "It is time to harvest!!!!" What?! Apparently he learned it was going to come too close to freezing that night and would certainly freeze the next night. So for about two hours we harvest our tomatoes (remember when I told you Nate planted 12 plants?) We manage to get most of our crop in before dark (and before we are just tired of harvesting - Grace has now decided it would not be fun to be a farmer anymore, she's leaning more towards being a mathematician these days). So what do you do with lots of tomatoes?

I decide that we won't be able to eat them fast enough so it is time to "put them up" or to "can" them.

You start by cleaning the tomatoes. In this case I cleaned somewhere between 12 and 15 pounds. We had about 5 different varieties - some big, some small, some yellow, some red, some purplish, some teeny, some ginormous, you get the idea.

Then after a quick knife action (you slice a little "X" on their bottoms), they are off for a dip in boiling water.
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After that, let them land in some cold, chilly water. You'll notice their skins start falling off.
Take them from the water and slip the rest of the skin right off. Now its time for a big decision: stop and can the tomatoes or make tomato sauce and then can that. I decided to go for the sauce. This meant I had to seed the tomatoes and then go ahead and actually make the sauce. I must tell you, this took a long time.

Next it is time to "can." This was actually done in a jar, not sure why they call it canning, but they do. I used a funnel designed especially for this purpose. After the jars are as full as they should be, you put on the lid, and then the ring. The ring holds the lid in place while they are "processed."

What? Processed? Yes, that is the fancy way of saying you are going to seal the jars of whatever deliciousness you put in them. This is done in a large pot, sometimes called a canner.

The canner is fitted with a kind of rack that sits on the bottom. This holds the jars in place so they don't rattle around while processing. Processing is really just boiling the jars in a lot of water for a long (and usually specific time).

After the specified time has elapsed, use your special canning tongs and remove the jars from the water.

The jars need to sit at room temp for about 24 hours. During this time you may hear a popping sound, but don't worry as this is exactly what you want to hear. It is the jar's way of letting you know it is sealed tight and whatever you spent all your time making and then canning will be fresh and ready for you.

At this point you ponder if it was all worth it. All I'll say is that the sauce so tasty, I certainly haven't found one to compete with it at the grocery store.

Monday, October 27, 2008

sneaky mom

First off - Sorry I've been a non-blogging-entity. Life here can be defined as "catching up." What or who are we catching up with? Not sure, but I'll let you know if/when I ever figure it out.

In the meantime here are two very tricky things I've done. 1. I sneak in a lot of flax seeds when the children aren't looking. Nate puts them in waffles and it makes a sort of polka-dot effect. I prefer to sneak them into chocolate chip cookies. It ups the fiber and has lots of those great omega fatty acids (I still don't quite understand what they are, but I'm sure Dr. NoBeard will be more than happy to fill me in on that, again). 2. I like to sneak in butternut squash into macaroni and cheese. I prefer to make homemade mac'n cheese (vs. blue box), and I can't tell you how delightfully tricky I feel "hiding" what some in the house (y'know G and J) would consider unwanted vegetables into the dish. Anyway, thought I'd share with you. Do you do tricky things like that?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

we're back

We spent the better part of a week in Tennessee. It is a beautiful state! The majority of our time was in and around the Smokie Mountains. It was rumored we'd run into Lions (mountain variety) and Bears (sadly no tigers). The cabin we stayed in was even called "Bearadise." We think the children were even a little too wild for the bears, because we didn't see any! (well except for the few in the Bear Habitat, by that time we figured it was the closest we'd come to seeing any bears and it turns out we were right). It was a nice time to be together as a family. One day I might even post pictures and tell tales, but for now you know we're back and starting back to reality with work and school tomorrow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a quick note

I am taking a blog-hiatus for roughly 7ish days. While I'm away from the blog-world please know that I am having fun, taking lots of pictures of Nate and his beard, herding the children from one place to another, not cooking as much as usual, and hopefully getting some shopping done somewhere in there as well. Hope you will be having fun too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

breathing a sigh of relief

Today I did something I knew I'd have to do eventually (because really it seems at some point or another you do) but I didn't think it would happen so soon. Grace came home on Monday with a very unsettling story/situation. I was livid (not at her). The next day a note was sent to the principal requesting a meeting with her and the teacher. Another note was sent to the teacher notifying her of the request. The meeting was set for today. I must say I was a cool customer. The teacher was pleasant enough, but she is now aware that things done and said in the classroom are coming home and I am not afraid to call her on it.
The principal said several times that the things discussed (real incidents that have occured in the classroom) were very inappropriate. She took notes, and assured me that she would take care of it. I have no doubt that she will, because (unbeknownst to her) I think she is one tough cookie.

What I really want to say is the teacher and principal were "schooled." And to think I did it with a smile on my face. VICTORY!!!!!!!!!