Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We have so many frogs in the garden. They like to hang out under leaves, in the puddles on the plastic mulch. Sometimes, like this one, they are in a plastic seedling flat that has a little water in it.

They are a good sign in a garden, but they do make me jump sometimes when they suddenly jump and startle me! Today, this one didn't want to leave his puddle in the heat wave we are having.

This week, I have a lot of picking to do and yard/patio things to pick up in preparation for hurricane Earle...I'm hoping it goes out to sea!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saffy, or should we call her Piglet

The dogs are allowed* to dig in the kennel and dig they do! The holes are carefully worked and made just the right shapes for lounging in with loose dirt for cushioning. I snapped this picture out a window with the zoom since the dogs jump up when I go outside.

Note, the crisscrossed front feet.

*I've given up trying to stop them ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Fall 'Look Book' Post

I love the fall fashion mags and catalogs. After the hot summer I am happy to see layers, knits, textured fabrics, shoes, boots, earthy and jewel colors! I do way more looking than shopping, but I do like to get a few new things that I think I will like to use a lot. My look is far more 'practical' than 'fashionista'.

I have a very sore and swollen left arm at the moment for unknown reasons, so I've distracted myself with magazines and picking some things I might like to get. And, I started my shopping with a jewelry purchase!

When I saw this necklace in the September issue of Lucky, I SO coveted it. Jeff said I had to have it! It is very 'me'. I think it is exciting to find a dropped antler on a walk in the woods. Back when I flintknapped, I used antler for tools. I love jewelry influenced by nature.

I also like this beaded necklace which looks quite wintry to me, like Christmas and New Year's parties.

I am looking forward to trying some teal shades of nail polish like the (obnoxiously named) Too Rich for You.

I probably won't get anything very different than usual for makeup.

This fragrance keeps smelling really good to me in one of the mags.

The jacket pictured below from Dillards might be good for everyday and dog walking. Likewise, for daily wear, I need a couple of new fleeces from LL Bean as mine are almost threadbare! I might try a fleece vest in addition to replacing the old jacket with the new version of it: fleece jacket . I think I'd like a new trench coat as I gave mine away to good will awhile back. This one is more traditional: trench coat, but I'm drawn to this and want to see it in person: dark trench coat. A velvet or corduroy blazer would be useful. My favorite corduroy pea coat jacket is sadly all threadbare on the edges after years of wear! I'm not sure which one yet, maybe something like this: blazer or this: pea coat. I need a replacement I like as much as the old one!

I do have a couple of LL Bean parkas that I've kept from year to year, but this parka from Boden caught my eye. Not just because of the dog in the picture!

I think I'll get some henleys for tops and a few long sleeve tees and turtlenecks and a couple of these gathered tops.

A few dressier shirts would be good to have like this velvet trim one, a ruffled one and an entirely velvet shirt.

I have some thin cardigans still from last year, but this one would be a nice addition, in the dark purple shade: sweater

I'll keep on wearing my Gap 'Real Straight' jeans for now and maybe try a pair of the new black true straight pants too.

I'm not sure if I will get any new skirts, but if I do, these are on the short list for now: printed skirt, jean pencil skirt, and corduroy pencil skirt.

I love slip on/off shoes and rocket dog is one of my favorite brands for clogs, not just because of the name!

Dressier shoes that look comfortable too!

I like these boots (in 'ink') but am not sure I could really justify them. We'll see.

I really, really need some good *hole free* rubber boots for gardening.

I've been using some hiking boots as winter boots for years, but am sick of cold, wet feet. I am thinking of these boots (and maybe a pair of the men's for Jeff). The dogs will appreciate our increased tolerance of weather!

Perhaps a hat? This gray leopard one or this more plain one? I've always quite liked fedoras and they are 'in' again this season.

It's kind of interesting to list fashion wants and needs and see what you end up with. My ideas are all over the place, but I think I'll be able to get some things I like that also go together.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Picking and Cooking Tomatoes

Yes, I DO realize that the tomato pictures are getting redundant, but it is a short season and I feel like celebrating it! This picture looks like a previous one, but it is today's pickings.

I have no complaints with the tomato harvest, but the nor'easter left the garden in a sorry looking state. The sunflowers are listing, but more or less upright. I was surprised to see that the worst damage was to the peppers, they look like they were twisted about before being beaten to the ground. Some of the eggplants are on the ground too. Sadly, a lot of branches were broken on the tomatillos, so I don't know if the fruits will be able to mature now. The few remaining cosmos were snapped into pieces though most of the other flowers are not too poorly. Everything looks battered and there are bits of torn up plants all over. I wish the weather had held off another couple of weeks, but that's nature for you! The struggle with weather is all part of gardening.

I also picked a lot of cherry tomatoes today. I fancied them jabbed into the top of some focaccia and baked, as pictured in one of my newer cookbook purchases, A Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm.

I love looking through the beautiful book and am excited that she has another book coming out. I'm not sure when we will see in it the US. I have just discovered I can see some of her show online. I can't understand the language, but I love the video anyway!

This is the first recipe I've tried from the book. The dough was quite stiff, not far from the pasta doughs I've been making up lately, but easily worked.

I decorated it with some Malden Sea Salt, dried rosemary and Kalamata olives in addition to the tomatoes.

I would like to see the show on focaccia to see if I did it the way she intended, but it turned out delicious and pretty, so I'm guessing I did ok with it.

To go along with the bread, I made an old favorite, chicken chasseur, using more tomatoes from the garden.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall Book Wish List

Today is a happy day! I have a copy of the brand new Inspector Banks book by Peter Robinson, a series I absolutely love.

It was a dim, rainy evening, perfect for bookstore browsing, so I ended up with several other things too. I look forward to the fall fashion issues like In Style and Style Watch. I got the Fall Vogue Knitting and Knitscene and got the summer Verena on a whim before the fall one replaces it. I was hoping to see a couple of bread books that have been recommended to me, but didn't find them...in the meantime, I'm going to read through the River Cottage Handbook. I've made bread since I was a kid, but am looking for some new ideas and lessons in the more European artisan type breads that are so popular and tasty.

Having a new Robinson book is helping me cope with the fact I've now read all of Gillian Bradshaw's historical fiction and historical fantasy books. Fortunately, she is working on more! Until then, I think I will start to look for copies of the sci-fi by Bradshaw that I haven't read yet. Those books are titled Bloodwood, The Somer's Treatment, Dangerous Notes and The Elixir of Youth. I also want to read Bill Bryson's upcoming.

When I pick up my needles more often as the weather cools, I am thinking I will treat myself to some of the new fall knitting books. Here are the ones I am thinking about:

Martin Storey's designs once again appeal to me in the Rowan book, Silk Twist Classics.

This knit fashion is interestingly inspired by each decade of the 20th century, Strikketoj by Helga Isager...I hope it's in English?!

There are a few books I've found on Amazon coming out this fall/early winter that interest me too and I want to see. Modern Top-Down Knitting: Sweaters, Dresses, Skirts & Accessories Inspired by the Techniques of Barbara G. Walker, Dolce Handknits: Simple, Sophisticated Designs, and Modern Knits, Vintage Style: Classic Designs from the Golden Age of Knitting.

This book makes me want to sew more: Sew Serendipity: Fresh and Pretty Designs to Make and Wear! And this Sedaris book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People might be funny.

I still want to order a copy of Misty by Kim Hargreaves from an earlier wish list. I am interested to see what her fall/winter styles will be! Does anyone know, are there any previews available yet?

Although I cook all year long anyway, I always feel a renewed excitement about it in the fall when it's nice and cozy to have something bubbling on the stove or in the oven.

I am quite likely to want the newest cookbooks by two of my favorite cooks. Nigella Lawson's book Kitchen is to be released here on October 12th. Ina Garten has a book coming out called How Easy Is That? on October 26th.

I am also looking at some newer books on preserving the garden's bounty, so I can add to my repertoire of canning and freezing recipes. I'd like some more salsa and hot sauce type recipes for using my peppers which grow so abundantly. I haven't quite decided which ones yet, so I'll post about those if I get them. Likewise, I'll keep you posted on the bread baking book purchases too.

I'd better make some space on the bookshelves!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Day Activity

The garden is looking quite haggard from the rain and wind, but things are still mostly standing, even the sunflowers. Jeff and the dogs bravely scared off more than 10 wild turkeys on the first outing to the yard this morning. Hopefully they won't return for a garden smorgasbord later! I can't tell if the garden damage is from the storm or the turkeys. I don't like picking when everything is soggy, but there is much to harvest.

This was the result of a quick pick this morning, so I'd better get washing and make some more sauce for freezing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rainy Sunday Supper

Made up a mixture of cheddar, parm, skim milk and a little cream, tiny amount of butter, pepper and nutmeg to combine with pasta shells. Topped it with garden tomatoes, more cheddar and baked it.

Saffy and Silas each ate a slice of tomato and wanted much more!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lazy Lunch of Leftovers

I am really enjoying the tomatoes from the garden! I used the yellow ones in the recent batch of pasta salad. Made the toasties with my rye/wheat bread from the '5 minute' book.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Garden Update

I climbed up to the second floor of the barn yesterday to snap some garden pics. The garden is looking dry and tired. I have pulled out a lot of it, not that you can really tell from the picture, but mostly I've been picking. There are tomatoes, string beans, cukes, zukes, peppers, some eggplants. Plenty for eating and preserving.

I'm also working at picking the gourds, pumpkins and winter squash that are ripe as long as I can do it without stepping on the vines that are still growing.

(Back on the ground for the rest of the pictures.) Here you can see where I've pulled things out and where I need to pull out weeds, right along the edge of the plastic where the tiller doesn't quite get to them. All the greenery to the left part of the picture is string beans.

At dusk, I took another picture of the zinnias and sunflowers with the setting sun in the background.

There are a lot of apples on the two trees, but since I didn't use any sprays, they are quite disfigured. The insides are fine, so I might pick the best, peel them and cook with them. Some applesauce would be nice! In the meantime, the dogs are eating some. Eating apples is ALL they want to do in the yard lately...unless they are actually eating something else. You would think they would become used to the veggies/fruits and not obsess so much!

"Give me the apple NOW!!!"

At least here you can see how juicy and white the inside of the apples are, even if the skins aren't so great looking.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today's Tomatoes

Well, some of them...there are a bunch more orange ones and a lot of cherry ones too.

Time to go wash them and make more sauce!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beginning the Gourd Harvest

Processing Tomatoes

The major picking has commenced! Hopefully there will be a long harvest. I am a little worried it has been too humid and I don't want things to rot rather than ripen. It isn't helping that I used a wimpier twine this year and it is breaking down too fast and allowing the tomato vines to fall to the ground after all the work I did to tie them up all season.

At this point in the year, I've been so distracted with the tending, picking and processing that I have forgotten some of the plant variety names, particularly the ones I purchased. (Just under half of the tomato seedlings were store bought this year.) I usually seem to get ones that aren't labeled correctly anyway. So, this year, I'm not sure what some of these tomatoes are. A lot were supposed to be 'Early Girl', but I really don't think they are. I am going to call them Abzorbaloff tomatoes as they seem to really like absorbing several of the tomatoes growing around them and growing into lumpy blobs equal in size to several large individual tomatoes! They still taste fine, but they look weird!

For today's processing, I picked the bowl full you see in the picture, plus another 1.5 bowl fulls. It is a good amount for the pots I have to work with. I use whatever kinds are ripe. I mix them all together. I like to add some plum tomatoes for thickness and cherry tomatoes for sweetness. When I have some 'Lemon Boy' a few of those add a really great flavor to the batch. Every batch is a little different.

They all get washed, cut, dumped into my largest pot (not counting the canning pot) and simmered.

I add tomatoes right to the brim.

As they cook down, I ladle the juice over to another pot, straining it through the food mill. As the pulp softens, I start milling it too. I end up with about 1.5 large pots full of tomato puree, which I simmer to reduce and thicken.

After it cools somewhat, I ladle the puree into bags and haul them to the chest freezer in the basement. I use this puree for so much...stocks, soups, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, chili, bbq sauce, etc. There is tomato splashed all over the kitchen (and I'm wearing some too) but it's worth it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Garden Bounty

The sunflowers are so tall, I've been using the zoom to take pictures of them!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Birthday Cookies

Earlier this month, I celebrated a birthday and received a lovely box of gifts from Debby. She knows I love the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and she gave me a box of the cookie mix. I hadn't had one of the mixes before and haven't been to the bakery, so it was fun to try an authentic Barefoot Contessa treat!

The from scratch recipe is in Barefoot Contessa Parties and you can find the recipe online here. For the mix, one simply combines an egg and a stick of butter with the dry ingredients in the box.

Voila! Cookies!

What a nice present of the cookie mix, tea, napkins and notepad for writing down my sugar and caffeine fueled schemes!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Painted Door

Thanks to Jeff, the back door is looking as nice as the front with the same red paint.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Salad Variations

I've raved at least a couple of times about Nigella Lawson's Greek Salad from her book Forever Summer. I make variations of it regularly. Lately, I've been skipping the lettuce and primarily using the cukes and tomatoes from the garden. Recently, when I had leftovers from a batch of this salad, the following day I boiled a little pasta and then tossed it into the veggies and dressing. It turned out to be a great idea!

In this instance the approximate recipe was:
In one bowl: 1 medium red onion sliced thinly, drizzled with red wine vinegar, sprinkled with oregano, tossed and allowed to sit for awhile.
In another bowl: A bunch of cherry tomatoes, cut up and sprinkled with sugar and a little kosher salt, tossed and allowed to sit for awhile.
In the serving bowl: 1 medium cuke, sliced. And, a generous grinding of black pepper, crumbling of feta and some halved/quartered Kalamata olives.
After the onions have sat for a bit, add olive oil to them. Then, add the onion mixture and the tomato mixture to the serving bowl and toss everything together.

I like it just like that, but add the pasta (partly cooled) and toss and that's what you see in the picture.

I'll definitely be making this again!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunflower Forest

With Jeff for scale!

And, a close up.