All posts by Nancy

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes….

Our tomatoes have been producing enough to eat on a very regular basis for the last few weeks, but on Sunday I had quite a few that were ready all at once so I decided to pick them and make my first batch of homemade sauce of the season!  :-) yum!

Last fall, I bought a Sauce Master, on sale at our local hardware store for just about half-price; and I was quite excited to break it out, put it together and see what it would do.  Now the beauty of the Sauce Master was that you were supposed to be able to just pick your tomatoes, wash them, remove any stems, cut them (if necessary) and then proceed to just grind them up – this would be a huge timesaver from my previous method of placing the whole tomatoes in boiling water until the skins started to split then immediately transfer them to cold water and peel them – I thought that I lost a lot of tomato in that process.

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I absolutely love my Sauce Master, very little waste and it does all the peeling and seeding for me – yippee!  And the tomatoe puree that comes out of it is so thick – which means less cooking time!

I ended up with 3 and a 1/2 quarts of lovely, dark red sauce from just those few tomatoes!  And I can’t wait to do more.

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I still have a ton of tomatoes left to ripen/pick – so I’ll be very busy for sure; provided the plants don’t get any more stressed out.

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We have two springs – one for the house and the other for the garden and office – on Friday the spring for the garden and office gave out – we haven’t had any rain in over 3 weeks – it hasn’t technically gone dry, it’s just so low that we can’t pump any more water out of it.  Thankfully the main spring for the house is still ok – just low.  So on Saturday, armed with a bunch of empty 5 gallon buckets we went down to the local boat launch and filled them up so we could water the tomatoes.  Yup, just one more thing to do!

Oh wait…..yipee, it’s raining right now!  :-)

Have a great day!

Yeah, we got a 1/2″ of rain this morning!!!


Basil Pesto

Today I’m going to try my hand at making fresh basil pesto – something I love, but have never made before.  I have some lovely purple and green basil in the garden.  The recipe that follows is a combination of about 3 different ones that I found on the internet.

  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves – packed means stuff them down into a measuring cup and press them down with your fingers.
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (several recipes say that you can substitute walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or 1 tablespoon prepared minced garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Makes about 1 cup – can be frozen but cannot be canned.

Pick your basil leaves off the stems, discard flower buds, stems, or leaves that aren’t in good shape.

Wash the basil in cold water.

Chop the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in a food processor or blender.

Start adding basil leaves, in small batches) to the food processor with the garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts.

From what I read – here’s the IMPORTANT part – if you want to freeze this – leave the cheese out!

Pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week – so if you intend to use it up quickly add the grated cheese to your basil mixture in the food processor.

If you want to freeze the pesto, leave the cheese out, put your pesto mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze.  When the pesto cubes have frozen, pop them out and put them into a freezer bag.  When you need some pesto, just take out a cube or two, let it defrost, and mix in a tablespoon or two of grated cheese.

Serve pesto over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes.  One of our favorite ways to use pesto is as an appetizer; add an extra tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil to each defrosted cube of pesto and serve it with chunks of thinly sliced fresh bread.


For anyone interested in canning recipes check out Food in Jars and


Pepper-Onion Relish

The peppers and onion are ready and this has to be my favorite relish.  It’s good on burgers, hot dogs, in tartar sauce, or spooned over the top of cream cheese.  From the Ball Blue Book.

  • 2 quarts chopped sweet green peppers (about 10 medium)
  • 2 quarts chopped sweet red peppers (about 10 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 hot red peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups vinegar

Cover vegetables with boiling water, let stand 5 minutes.  Drain, cover again with boiling water and let stand 10 minutes.  Drain.

Tie pickling spices in a spice bag.

Combine spice bag, sugar, salt, and vinegar; simmer 15 minutes.

Add drained vegetables, simmer 10 minutes.

Remove spice bag.  Bring mixture to a boil.

Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4″-inch headspace.

Adjust 2-piece caps.

Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Yield – about 6 pints.

Below is a slight variation of this relish – using a liquid non-sugar sweetener; again from the Ball Blue Book.

  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid non-sugar sweetener

Combine all ingredients, except non-sugar sweetener, in a large saucepot.  Bring mixture to a boil; cook until vegetables are tender and the mixture is slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in non-sugar sweetener.  Ladle hot relish into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece caps.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Yield – about 5 pints

Zucchini, Pepper, Onion, Sugar Snap Peas & Chicken Stirfry

I love stirfrys – and when I’m canning I certainly don’t have a lot of time to cook – and I usually have a hard time getting to the stovetop because of the canning kettle(s).

On Saturday I was thinking of something quick and easy to do for dinner, that would also use up some of the veggies I picked – so I said ok a stir fry!  It was really good.


Combine the following in a ziplock ba

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

zucchini, pepper, onionAdd 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks.  Shake it up good to coat the chicken and put it in the fridge for 2-4 hours.


  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy

Mix this together well and set it aside.

Chop up:

  • 1 zucchini  – cut it in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • a good handful or two of pea pods or sugar snap peas cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • chopped garlic

Dinner time:

Using a wok or a large non-stick fry pan, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce until it’s almost “smoking”.  Add chicken (throw out any remaining marinade/juice).  Cook chicken until the juices run clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  (Add a splash more oil if you need to – but not much). Throw in all your veggies and cook for just a few minutes, stirring them frequently – they should be very crisp and the zucchini just slightly “browned” on each side.  Add your sauce and the chicken.  Cook for a couple of minutes – until the sauce thickens.

Dish it up and enjoy!

You can serve this over hot cooked rice or over rice noodles – but we just ate it “plain”.

Sorry, no pictures of the final dish – Ben was like – NO WAY – I’m starving and I’m not waiting while you take a stinking picture!

The zucchini is out of control

If you are what you eat – then I think I’m a cucumber/zucchini/pepper (soon to be combined with a tomato)!

The weekend here was a busy one.  In addition to picking a half gallon of blueberries and a pint or raspberries, we also picked cucumbers, the last of the sugar snap peas, some zucchini, and peppers.

8-4 harvest

All in all it was a busy day!  And I spent the rest of the weekend canning and freezing.

canned blueberries and rhubarb stew

I canned 2 pints of fresh blueberries (not sure if I’ll ever do that again or not) and some rhubarb sauce.  The rest of the blueberries, along with the raspberries went directly onto cookie sheets in the freezer – to be flash frozen and then into empty quart yogurt containers.

I think I’m going to have enough pickles for the entire county!


The vegetable garden is kicking our butts!

Our vegetable garden is just out of control this year!  I was canning pickled beets (16 quarts of them) on the 15th of July!  That’s about 3-4 weeks earlier than normal!!

We’re spending at least 2-3 hours every night after work in the garden gathering the day’s harvest of:

  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • cucumbers
  • peppers

Pretty soon the tomatoes and the peppers will be ready.  I think I did something wrong this year and ended up buying tomato tree seeds!  There are on the right in the picture below – the stakes are 6′ tall and they have all outgrown their cages.

vegetable garden