Acceptance Speech

Three varieties of cherry tomato, including bumblebee and sungold

Wow, I can’t believe this. Thank you so much! I feel like the luckiest person alive!

First, I’d like to thank the Sun, for everything you’ve done to make this possible. Every single day you’re there, giving it your all. And of course the Soil and the Rain–what a team–you were an integral part of the creative process. Your caring and patience made this happen.

Who could forget the Pollinators–bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, I hope I’m not forgetting anyone–thank you for all of your hard work and attention to detail. And the farmers, this wouldn’t be possible without your and dedication day in and day out.

Last but certainly not least, my eternal thanks to Nature. I’m in constant awe of all that you produce. You’re an inspiration to me every day, and I love you!! I’m going to treasure this!

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I don’t watch awards shows, but I am rooting for some of my favorite shows and actors in tonight’s Emmys, even though they are up against each other in the some of the same categories: Veep, Silicon Valley, The Last Man On Earth, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Saturday Night Live, Brooklyn 99, Key & Peele, Sherlock, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Conan, Last Week Tonight, Drunk History, Portlandia, Epic Rap Battles of History, Honest Trailers, and all the other fun stuff on TV and online. Good luck!!

P is for Preserving Food

Two summers ago I tried canning for the first time and loved it. Last year I did even more food-preservation projects.

Cherries were first. I canned some sweet and some sour, and I also made jam for the first time. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m still getting over how much sugar goes into jam. It’s hard to dump 6-7 cups of sugar into a pot of something I’m making.

Canned cherries and cherry jam

Later, I made blackberry jam. It was such a nice day picking these blackberries that I used some photos for my entry in the photo challenge called Good Day.

Homemade Blackberry jam

I also canned peaches. At the time, I felt like I had packed the jars full of peach halves, but after canning they kind of shrunk and floated, making it look like I could have fit more in.

Jars of home canned peaches

Throughout the summer, I was canning tomato sauce. Each week I would bring home tomatoes from the farmers market and make sauce.

Quarts of home canned tomato

Sometimes you can find tomato “seconds,” which are fruits that aren’t in perfect shape, but are still definitely edible. There may be bruises that you have to cut off, splits, or minor things like that. These are sold at a discount, or sometimes given away for free. They still make excellent sauce, so they’re good enough for me.

Chopped heirloom tomatoes in pot for tomato

In all, I think the things that I canned were: cherries, cherry jam, tomato sauce, pickled beets, spicy peppers, applesauce, picked roasted bell peppers, peaches, blackberry jam.

Canned spicy peppers

It got so hectic that I wasn’t keeping up with writing down or taking pictures of the stuff I canned, it was hard enough just to get it done and still have my tiny kitchen cleaned and ready to cook the next meal. But I really loved it. The chaos and mess were totally worth it.

I love the idea of preserving good products at the peak of freshness to enjoy later. It’s nice to have control over the process of what goes in it. I’m looking forward to doing more this summer as things come into season.

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I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. The idea is to post every day, except Sundays, and end up with one post for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a good challenge to help me to blog every day.

A to Z Challenge badge

My First Home-Grown Okra

Okra and tomatoes on the counter
I was happy to pick my first okra pod! The seeds were an experiment this year, and a happy surprise because I didn’t think they would do well in a container.

I also picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes (which are actually the size of blueberries) and some green zebras.

Yellow okra flower
The okra flower was very pretty, but only lasted a day.

Okra pod growing
This was the growth the next day.

I missed photos of days 2 and 3, and I picked it on day 4.

There are always ups and downs in gardening, and this one of this year’s high points for sure.

Photo Challenge: Close Up–Container Garden Finds

Green Cherry tomatoes and flowersFrom the ittiest, bittiest cherry tomatoes (some smaller than a peppercorn at this point)
Dusty Miller monochromeTo the soft and mysterious Dusty Miller

Okra flower bud
I haven’t tried to grow okra before, just picked up the seeds on a whim this spring.

To the beginnings of an okra flower, these are busy days in the little balcony garden.

Things change in a matter of hours: tomatoes ripen, peppers swell, the occasional morning glory shows itself, mint tries to creep in every other pot it can find, kale leaves disappear into the mouths of voracious cabbage butterfly caterpillars.

Some changes are better than others but they are all interesting to watch.

In response to this week’s theme Close up

The Summer Half of the Color Wheel

Orange, yellow and green cherry tomatoesOrange, yellow, and green — three colors showing one of the best things that summer has to offer.
Orange, yellow, green cherry tomatoesThese cherry tomatoes are tiny, but they are filled with summertime flavor and make me happy. I love stepping outside for a little snack, and watching the colors change from green to yellow to orange.
Orange, yellow, green cherry tomatoes

Photo Challenge: Muse — Nature

Tomato flower and green cherry tomatoes
Tomato flower and green cherry tomatoes

My muse is found in nature. In growth and change. How does a tiny seed turn into a flower, or even more amazing, into something I can eat?

Pepper flower
Pepper flower

I love to get out and explore new gardens, parks, and places, but I can’t always do that. My little garden on my balcony helps me see some of the small changes that are always happening in nature. Some flowers last a few weeks, others, just a day.

Tomato flower silhouette
Tomato flowers

Nature never stops. There’s always something new to see. It could be a big change or small. I can always find something to get lost looking at, and something to inspire me.

This week’s photo challenge theme is Muse.

Green bean blossom
Green bean blossom

Canning Tomato Sauce: 5 Photos, 5 Stories: Day 4

Nine quarts of tomato sauce was my first canning project. I should have started out with something easier, but I didn’t realize that at the time. Using a recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, I started by procuring 45 lbs of tomatoes from my farmer friend in early September. As I washed, quartered, and threw them in the pot, I realized that I would need several pots to do the job of cooking them down. I should have started out by throwing them in the pressure cooker/canner, because that’s where they all ended up. The next sad realization was that it was going to take forever to put it all through the food mill. It did take forever. I’m still doing it, in fact, with no end in sight.

I ended up with just about 9 quarts of tomato sauce. Since my pressure canner only holds 7, I just refrigerated the last two jars.

The sauce was delicious! I had read that you can use either citric acid or lemon juice to raise the acidity to safe levels, and I tried a couple jars of each. I didn’t notice much of a difference.

This project took most of the day and it was around midnight when I finally pulled the jars out of the canner and set them on the counter. I could hear the little popping sounds as I fell asleep. It was a lot of work but rewarding and completely worth it. I’m looking forward to doing it again at the end of the summer!

This post comes as part of the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge sent to me by Nonny Moose. I thought my theme for the next five days would be food, since I haven’t written much about that lately. A theme is not necessary, but for me this is motivation to get caught up on some posts I have been drafting in my mind.

The challenge rules are:

  1. Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
  2. Attach a story to the photo. It can be real, fiction, a poem, a quote or short paragraph – that is entirely up to you.
  3. At the end of each day, nominate one other blogger to take part.

Today I nominate Guenny of Together and Apart No More. Guenny, are you up for another photo challenge? There’s no pressure, it’s just for fun 🙂

Is Summer Over Already?

The changing leaves in New England, foliage
The changing leaves in New England

Haha, I started this draft a month ago. I guess it’s better late than never?

I suppose I haven’t blogged in a bit. Summer was just starting to get busy and boom, now it’s done.

I’m trying to get everything back into a routine. Still trying to grow a few vegetables and flowers out on my balcony. I’ve picked a few Lemon Boy tomatoes, a few red ones from the plant labeled “Patio,” and quite a few of the cherries (although they end up being more like the size of blueberries). I discovered that at least one of the Hungarian wax pepper plants will produce peppers that turn red and get quite spicy if I leave them on the plant long enough. That was a nice surprise. Perhaps it’s a slightly different kind of pepper plant?

Or maybe Hungarian wax peppers are similar to shishitos, which I discovered at the farmer’s market a few months ago, where about 1 in 10 is spicy. I have been eating shishitos all summer, usually just pan fried and sprinkled with a little salt. Sometimes thrown into a stir fry. With it’s thin skin and membrane, you can eat the seeds and everything but the stem. They are delicious.

Anyway, I have a few months worth of photos to look through and post. We’ve had many happy trips to farms to pick our own food and for the kids to learn about how it grows. I’ve been cooking a lot and have attempted canning this year. I’ll post more about my canning adventures soon.

I hope you are enjoying October in your part of the world!

Progress in my Container Garden

It’s always encouraging to see progress in your garden.

Yellow Boy tomato
‘Lemon Boy’ tomato

I have teeny, tiny tomatoes growing now. Seems like the spider shaped flowers have produced some fruit. Above is a tomato growing from the flower from my ‘Lemon Boy.’

And this will be a cherry tomato when it grows up.

Tiny cherry tomato
Tiny cherry tomato

This Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper is really coming along. Just three weeks ago it was a flower.

Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper growing nicely
Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper growing nicely

These are radish flowers. When I plant radish seeds, they generally don’t grow radish bulbs, but they will produce flowers if I let them go long enough. I may actually have one radish out there, which is exciting. I’ll peek sometime soon, but I don’t want to disturb it much. The rest of the plants in the pot were either eaten as lettuce greens when they were shoots, or they are growing wild and making flowers.

Radish flowers
Radish flowers

This is one of the pea plants. I was interested in playing with the HDR setting with the sun behind the leaves.

Pea plant
Pea plant