I was going through a box of old ceramics and came upon a teacup that had been broken and repaired. I figured it wasn't worth listing on eBay, so I let #4 play with it. As expected, being young yet, after several warnings to be careful with it, she ended up dropping it, and it broke into lots of pieces. Not a huge deal. The pieces are running through the rock tumbler now to see what we can come up with in a week or so. Maybe the pieces will make it to eBay after all. I'll have to post a photo of the pieces when they come out.
I picked up a buck rabbit over the weekend. If he did his job properly, we should have baby bunnies in mid-November.
I was so busy with apple butter yesterday that I didn't get a chance to post the photos and recipe we used for lunch. I'm new to the world of squash, I'll admit it. This recipe was so simple I had to try it.
Start with a spaghetti squash, cut in half. Scrape out the seeds and innards. I used a spoon and they came out easily. Then place the halves open side down in a baking dish. I added a little water to the bottom to keep them moist, but didn't cover them.
I cooked mine at 350 for 45 minutes. Take them out of the oven and use a fork to scrape the insides out in strings. A note here, I scraped top to bottom on one half and side to side on the other. It seems the side to side works better to get spaghetti strings instead of mush.
Add in half a stick of butter and half a cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Toss together.
We used a lot more cheese than the recipe called for, possibly because squash is a new flavor for our family. I did save the seeds, and would like to note that this spaghetti squash had far fewer seeds than the pumpkins I used for pie. All together not bad, but the kids still aren't sold on it just yet.
Today I am blogging as I go. I'm making another batch of Apple Butter and fruit leather, but with a few modifications. This time I will be substituting local honey for the white sugar. Also, I'm using Honeycrisp apples this time.
My first note is that the honey crisp apples seem to be more lop-sided, making it harder to use the Apple Wedger. Good thing we can just use a knife and core it the old fashioned way. Today, #3 will be helping me in the kitchen.
Now for the difference. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. I'm going to use 1/4 cup local honey instead of the granulated sugar and no water (using the moisture from the honey instead).
After four and a half hours on low in the Crock pot, everything goes in the blender to purée.
Once again, still sloppy and liquid so back into the crock pot it goes on high without the lid until it reaches the consistancy of jam. The recipe says one hour, but last time it took a lot longer.
I've also put some of the mix into the dehydrator to make fruit leather (set on Medium for another four hours).
After an additional two and a half hours in the crock pot, the apple butter is finally done. It was critiqued by #2 and he said he liked the sugar version better for the fruit leather, but the honey version better for the butter.
After dinner we ran back to the grocery store and bought a dozen Gala apples to try a doubled batch that will cook overnight. We will see how it turns out!
Yesterday we had BLTs and I finally cut up the big ribbed heirloom tomato. It was the first time that we didn't have any leftover tomatoes! In fact, only one kid didn't have seconds. I saved the seeds and will be planting them next summer. The tomato was flat on the bottom, which seems odd, but it was very good.
A friend of mine posted an apple butter recipe on Facebook a couple weeks ago. I've never tried apple butter, but the recipe looked simple enough, so I wrote it down to try later (yesterday).
The first step was to gather six apples, and core them. The recipe suggested Gala, but I used Braeburn. I used the Apple Wedger to core the apples, and the knife to take out any bits of the core left on the wedges.
Six apples makes a large plate full! I did lose three slices; two to #5 who wanted to help, and one to the floor due to my own clumsiness.
The apples then needed to be "roughly chopped" and added to the crock pot. I cut the smaller pieces in half and the larger pieces into thirds.
Add in the remainder of the ingredients (1-4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 Tablespoon (ground) cinnamon.
Stir everything up. Put the lid on, and set it to cook for 4-1/2 hours on Low heat. Check regularly to make sure the apples aren't drying out.
After it's cooked 4-1/2 hours, take the contents out, put them in a blender and purée until smooth.
If it's runny, or reminds you of apple sauce, put it back in the slow cooker and set it for 1 hour on High without the lid - checking frequently. You want it to be a deep brown with the consistency of jam.
I put mine back in for an hour, then another hour, then another half an hour. It took a total of seven hours (4-1/2 on low with the cover on, and 2-1/2 on high with the cover off) before it got to any consistency resembling jam. It probably could have cooked longer, but by then it was late at night and I didn't want to fight with it any more.
In all, I got 16 ounces (2 cups) of apple butter and I used some of the extra (not out of the 16 ounces) to make "fruit leather" in the dehydrator. I'm not sure how that will turn out, as with apple butter, this is a first attempt.
I've heard of people buying heirloom tomatoes from a grocery store, but living in a relatively small town, I've never seen anything but commercial hybrids available. Until yesterday. While doing our shopping at Costco, I found a six pack of heirloom tomatoes. I was delighted!
So yesterday we put the first tomato to the test. We cut up the big yellow one (top right in the photo above). I have a couple admissions here. First off, I've never tasted an heirloom tomato, but I've heard lots of good comments about them. Secondly, this is possibly one of the biggest tomatoes I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. And third, while my kids are open to trying new foods, they aren't all find of tomatoes... And this one is a lot if tomato.
I cut it up, scooped out seeds, and we shared it for Sunday lunch. Reviews were mixed. It wasn't overly flavorful, but it was alright with salt. I admit, I was disappointed. But there was some pink/red streaking on the fruit which may indicate that it wasn't fully ripe. I suppose I can plant some seeds and see what I get. Being an heirloom it should breed true.
Despite mixed reviews, very little was left at the end if the meal.
Seeds are fermenting now. I should have enough to trade later. It's a large yellow Oxheart shaped heirloom tomato of unknown variety.
I'm currently working on an apple butter recipe I found online. A friend of mine posted it to Facebook and I decided to give it a try. I'll post photos and the recipe in my next blog post.
Some of the original yellow flowers on the tomato plants are starting to turn brown and fall away. They clearly were not pollinated prior to coming in the house. With several more flowers blooming, I did a search for how to hand pollinate. I had looked this up in the spring too, but was not sold on the idea that shaking or flicking the flowers would magically produce a tomato - and the two flowers I tried it with did not produce a tomato. It looks like another option is to use a vibrating toothbrush to mimic the buzzing of a bee to loosen the pollen. Well, those are about $5 each, and if I bought one for the plants, my kids would each want one - and that becomes an expensive pollination project. That got me thinking - what might I have that could mimic a buzzing bee? My cell phone! It has a vibrate option for when I don't want it to ring. So I spent a few minutes today using the vibrate function of my cell phone on each of the tomato flowers. I'm still doubtful, but we'll see. All of the videos I found were people using these methods on gardens outside - where they were likely being pollinated by bees and butterflies and such. Which makes me think it's like saying that if I eat raisins every day, it will eventually rain. Well, unless I live in a desert, it will rain eventually - regardless of if I eat raisins every day. I guess time will tell. Being indoors, there are no pollinators so if they produce then I know it was from this cell phone vibration experiment.
Current green tomato count is 4... three Lemon Drop (on two plants), and one Rideau Sweet. Lots of flowers though, so maybe I'll get a few more varieties.
The Juane Flamme that was in the paper bag is ripe! It turned a beautiful flame orange, as promised. Beautiful!
The mystery tomato continues to slowly gain color sitting on my desk. It's now half orange and half yellow, and appears to have a very thick skin, remaining firm despite being off the plant for some time now.
Juane Flamme wasn't bad, it was better with some salt. I wish I had a second one to get a better taste.
Red Cherry was completely flavorless. I don't know if I'll plant it again next year. #1 spit it out even after trying it with salt.
Maglia Rosa had a wonderful sweet flavor. No salt needed (in fact salt made it taste terrible). I will definitely be planting it again! #1 said she would like it better if it was beefsteak size so she could put it on a BLT or a hamburger.
The Maglia Rosa and Red Cherry tomato plants were already sickly when they came in, but they had green tomatoes and I thought if try to save them. Both of them had the vines dry up but I left them attached under the grow light anyway. The Maglia Rosa tomato fell off the vine yesterday and I pulled the Red Cherry this morning. Both I think could have waited a few more days but oh well.
The Maglia Rosa is pink but still has light yellow striping. The Red Cherry isn't red, but more of a standard orange. It also has a bit of a yellow spot on the back side.
I know, it doesn't look like much, but this is our newest addition to the garden. This is a Cinnamon Basil seedling, from a wonderful lady I found on Listia (Thank you Deb!). It's actually #2's plant, but for right now it's under the grow lights with the tomatoes. It lost most of its leaves in transit, but I'm hoping it will pull through with some time and lighting. Once it's a little perkier, it will be moved to his room to enjoy the big window.
I had put off cutting up the latest Rideau Sweet tomato, but last night I noticed the bottom half was starting to go a little soft. So I decided to cut it open and taste it.
My first clue should have been that the whole ripe fruit didn't have an odor at all. My second red flag was the fact that once cut open it "didn't smell right" to me. I can't put my finger on it, it's a little like a wet diaper that's been sitting too long. I decided to try a bite anyway. Taste was the same as smell... It was very bad. Perhaps it just sat too long? It was only just starting to loose firmness and wasn't squishy or rotten. I saved the seeds anyway, but had to throw away most of the tomato. If I didn't know better I'd say this wasn't the same as that beautiful small tasty first Rideau Sweet out of the garden earlier this summer.
With cold weather less than 24 hours away, I've moved the remaining flowering and fruiting tomato and pepper plants indoors under a grow light in hopes of getting a few last harvests in.
In moving the plants, the largest tomato (a Rideau Sweet) fell off of it's withering plant. The move a few days ago to the sunnier location gave it time to ripen up a little. I could have used a few more days but at least it isn't green.
My Mom's morning glories continue to bloom. I have seeds available for trade that I've collected from these plants. Here's what they look like as of today. They're wet due to the rain.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.