Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Thursday, August 29

oven-roasted tomato sauce...

Having found our farmhouse kitchen filled with tomatoes (translation: tomatoes on windowsills, overflowing from baskets, and rolling off counter tops) I decided yesterday it was really time I did something with them. 

After all, how could anyone not LOVE a garden-fresh tomato on a hearty BLT sandwich, in homemade salsa, or our recipe with French bread and homemade ricotta!

However; back to our tomato dilemma...we were getting overrun. So here's what I did...inspired by this terrific blog, From Beyond my Kitchen Window, I roasted them in the oven. (check out her site...she has some of the best recipes!)

Trust me, the aroma of the roasting tomatoes was wonderful, and really, there's no way to mess up the recipe...I'd say it's practically impossible!

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

-Quarter as many tomatoes as will fill a 13"x9" pan. There's no need to core or peel the tomatoes. (although I did slice off the stem end)

-Add pressed garlic to taste.

-Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper; stir to coat tomatoes.

-Pop baking pan into a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.

-After the tomatoes have roasted, spoon them into a blender and puree. Add 3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning and additional salt to taste; blend to combine.

-Add a quartered onion, and blend once again.

That's it...you're done!  

The recipe can easily be changed to suit your tastes. I skipped the Italian seasoning because I had fresh herbs...I added snips of oregano, garlic chives, rosemary, basil, and French tarragon, then let the blender chop them up into the sauce.  I also added a pinch of sugar...just because I always think homemade tomato sauce needs a bit of sweetness.

And there you are...pour the sauce into freezer jars, leaving 1/2-inch head-space, and place in the freezer. 

Now this winter, when we're snowed in and Little Man asks for his favorite dinner of spaghetti, I'll be able to pull out a taste of summertime.

Friday, August 23

when the garden gives you zucchini galore...make cake!

I'm a true-blue chocoholic...so trust me when I say that this cake is sure to fill any chocolate cravings you may have. 

It's so moist and so delicious, and here's the best part...don't worry what the family will say, ("Ewww, zucchini!") because they'll never know if you don't tell them! Truly, if the kids hadn't seen me adding zucchini to the batter, they wouldn't have believed it.

So, if your garden is overflowing with zucchini, and you're looking for a change from traditional zucchini bread, bake up this scrumptious cake. Topped with a thick layer of fudge frosting...you won't be sorry!

Chocolate-Zucchini Cake 

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon 
4 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 c. oil
3 c. grated zucchini

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. Whisk together eggs and oil; fold in zucchini. Combine zucchini mixture with flour mixture; stir to blend. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13"x9" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake tests done in the center. Cool completely before frosting.

Fudge Frosting 

2 c. sugar
1 c. unsweetened baking cocoa
1 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla extract
2-1/2 to 3 c. powdered sugar

Combine sugar and cocoa in a medium saucepan; stir in milk. Add butter, corn syrup, and salt. Stir mixture and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside to cool 45 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then add enough powdered sugar to make mixture a spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake. Any leftover frosting can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for one month.


Thursday, August 8

the summer has flown by...

Time flies, as the old saying goes, and boy did this summer fly by. The kids are back in school in just a couple short weeks, and now is the time for gathering school supplies and shopping with Grandma for new clothes. Grandma loves to shop...good thing, I'm not a big shopper (unless it's a flea market, nursery, or antique store!)

Here's a few snapshots of what the kids did all summer...

Speaking of Grandma, here she is with both kids after a performance at the school for mime theatre...a fun 3-week class they also took last summer. Don't let the name fool you, these mimes are nothing like the ones from the past...what they do is amazing!

Below is Sweet Girl preparing for a ballet recital. The picture was blurry, but somehow, I still loved it. (Oh my, adding makeup for the performance makes her look much more grown-up than her 12 years!)

Little Man had his first piano recital...we were so proud of him!

From where we were sitting, I could see his reflection in the piano...

Guess who was a featured dancer in one of our very favorite musicals The Music ManCommunity theatre in a small town is such fun!

Soon, it was county fair time...oh, the food, the rides, the animals! Little Man did terrific his first official year in 4-H! He was first for this age in the Skill-a-thon, first in Showmanship, and first in Halter. Does he look surprised?!

Sweet Girl did a super job, too...first place for her age in the Skill-a-thon, 2nd in halter, and she brought home a first place ribbon and Best of Show for her mixed-media artwork! Both of them snagged first for their famous chocolate chip cookies in the culinary judging...what a fun fair!

And so now what do we do to top all this? Well, definitely a little breather is in order...it's been a face-paced, and fun-filled summer. Time for a little R& R.

Oh, our next project?

Here's a little clue...

remember this fella?

Thursday, August 1

a lucky find...

I can't remember the last time I found one of these...

 I'm sure I was just a kid...
I have one pressed between the pages
of a favorite book from "way back when"  titled,
"All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot.

Did you ever read it? I was in love with the stories 
of the English countryside...it made me want to move 
to the Yorkshire Dales and become a vet.

I had simply glanced down, and amid a patch of green, 
this single clover seemed to stand out.

I've read they're quite rare...
in fact, it's said for every 10,000, 3-leaf clovers you see, 
you will find only one, 4-leaf clover.

I wonder what good luck it could be bringing?
We'll have to wait and see...for now, it's tucked between sheets
of an aging text, waiting to join the one saved from long ago.

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