September 2021 herbs, dried tomatoes, and handsome cats

I had a lovely puttering day yesterday picking herbs, doing laundry, and putting tomatoes in the oven. The kitties were enjoying the day too. And I managed to cut the lawn in the back garden; I will take some pictures of that since it looks lovely and green with the recent rain and cooler weather.

The herbs are doing well –I try to pick a batch at the beginning of the year to dry but some of them are better now, thyme for example.

I had thought to have it be a game –how many of these herbs can you identify? Turns out (after seeing these pictures) that the game will have more to do with seeing past these not-very-good images. There are six different herbs here, but I think one might be completely at the bottom of the pile.

Mostly I try for the leathery consistency in the sun dried tomatoes (that I do in the oven), but invariably some of them end up totally stiff and dried –rattling around like dice on the tray. Turns out they are delicious crumbled into/ onto various things. My mother makes a fantastic herb mix that includes very-dried crumbled tomatoes –it is great in olive oil for bread dipping, on scrambled eggs, and sprinkled on popcorn. It has herbs and dried garlic in it too.

Above is Martin Frobisher, looking handsome. And below are a few pictures of Cousin; he was in a posing mood.

September 2021 potatoes, cooler weather, and Vlad

It has been feeling very cool in the night and dewy and cool in the morning. And last evening I dug a few potatoes for my dinner. They are really lovely and yummy.

And the apples picked last weekend are ripening nicely. I’ve been eating some but they aren’t quite where they should be for nice eating.

I had just cleaned all these chair cushions and stacked them up –and here is Vlad doing his Princess-and-the-Pea.

September 2021 more of the canning and a bell pepper

This picture shows the grand results of the canning. My mother brought peaches, peach jam, and peach salsa. The peach salsa is on the very top and the peaches and peach jam are on the left and right. I canned sweet pickle relish (top left) and bread and butter pickles (upper right, next to the peach jam) before my mother arrived.

The peach salsa looks amazing. I haven’t tasted it yet.

In the upper left of this picture, these two 1/2 pint jars are tomato salsa and the red onions in honey. The dill spears are sitting on top of a jar of dill chips. And the green beans are on top of the very obvious bottom row jar of corn.

There are canned beans across the bottom row that are a little less obvious. At the far right is a jar of black beans and on the left, red beans and pinto beans. I usually put in jars of dry beans if there is a space in the canner but I also sometimes do whole batches of canned beans as I really like having them ready to eat.

The canned tomatoes are topped off with a jar of tomato sauce –such a lovely red. The apples under the peach salsa have already made an appearance, I have high hopes for that sweet pickle relish.

And my mother also brought canned cherries, which we forgot to get into this picture, but I will put up a picture of those at some point.

And, just to top things off, here is a picture of a bell pepper in my garden.

September 2021 corn and apples

The canning has been roaring along; I had already canned some corn earlier but we did four dozen more ears of corn. Lovely, lovely yummy corn. The apples are canned very simply –a light syrup of sugar and water and no spices. They are really tasty apples and I think they will be great in oatmeal or made into an apple crisp.

Loads more things happening… more pictures soon….

August 2021 tomatoes and roses

It is the very end of august and the tomatoes are really starting to come on now. I had lovely tomato sandwiches –sliced tomatoes on toast with mayonnaise. And the roses are having another round of blooms. This white bush rose is really blooming and the pink rose in the front has new flowers.

August 2021 Kitties, Amaranth, and Tomatoes

That might be the perfect August trio: kitties lounging on grass in the heat, amaranth getting top heavy with its reddish purple heads, and the lush, unbeatable tomatoes.

Above is Martin Frobisher (here is a post on his naming) and below is Sidney.

The crunchy grass is also a part of August. Below is Tiglet, being busy as he usually is.

He did stop to have a look, and below is just so you don’t miss the Tiglet / Tiger staring out of those eyes. This throwback to a wild look is particularly amusing with him because is the sweetest softest cat.

These cherokee purple tomatoes are an heirloom variety (what a friend in London tells me is called heritage there). They are so beautiful and flavorful and a distinctive flavor. I like the flavor a lot –but the color is what really gets me. The greener ones here are not quite ripe. Yum.

August 2021 sunflowers and vegetables

When I look out the kitchen window (while I am washing my dishes), I get to look at these sunflowers. Last year I had made a wigwam / tipi of old sunflowers, amaranth, broom corn and everything else I thought the birds would like. Of course it re-seeded and I decided to leave it. It has been lovely and I think I will keep it next year. I also feel less badly about having bird-enticing things on the north side of the house since the cats spend most of their time on the south side of the house.

And I have begun some pickling and canning. I bought 10 pounds of beets from a gardener down the road and canned them. I’ve canned them completely plain –not pickled. I like them in salads and soups in the winter.

I canned some chickpeas when I did the beets –since I had a little space in the canner for some extra jars. These are bread and butter pickles.

August 2021 tomato updates

I always imagine (in June) that I will be eating fresh tomatoes off my plants in July and I think it is always August. That said, the plants are late this year; our weather has been uneven and I transplanted out my seedlings later than normal. BUT the tomatoes are coming.

First the cherry tomatoes. Yum.

These above and below are Cherokee Purples –I had decided not to plant them but a couple came on their own so I’ve kept them. I was going to give them up although the flavor is fantastic on this heirloom tomato, I find them unforgiving. Like pears, they are at ripest perfection for about a half of a second. Demonstrating that instantaneous turning point: “Cheered and check’d even by the selfsame sky, / Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease.” Well. “At height decrease” indeed. It means that if I don’t catch them at exactly the right moment, they go bad right there in the garden. BUT they are delicious. And so individual. And gorgeous ripe colors. I will simply have to check them every day this season to be certain I catch them.
These are (I think) Moneymaker tomatoes that I started from seed. I liked these a lot last year –which was the first year I had grown these.
These are either more moneymaker or better boy. I think they might be better boy. I also have roma tomatoes planted but they are even farther behind… which is a shame. I am counting on them for my sundried tomatoes.

And, finally, there are these funny little miniature tomatoes. A friend gave me a couple of plants a few years ago and they come back each year. I have them in the back of the rudbeckia bed next to some squash. They are lovely little snacks —I mostly eat them in the garden with them rarely making it to the house or into a salad. Here are some that getting ripe.

I will update with another tomato post at some point when more red appears. Meanwhile, I am going to go eat the cherry tomatoes.

April 2021 River picnic, pickles, and blue bells

Quick Sunday visit to see how the river is doing. It was nice and sunny but the breeze was chilly. On Monday morning, there are snow flurries, so Sunday seemed even better in hindsight.

I also opened a couple of pickles… kosher dill (that I cut into spears here) and the other is a thin sliced cucumber pickle with thin sliced ginger, pickled with cardamom and star anise. Yum. The kosher dills are too salty. But I will work harder next time to get the brine rinsed better.

These fields of blue bells (ok, not really a field, but a massive swath of a garden) are just up the street from my house. They are so lovely and the bees are loving them so much that I have to put a picture in here —but they are NOT in my garden.