Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Sunday, September 24

organized chaos!

 Yes, that's exactly how I would describe the state of the kitchen right now!

If you were to pop in for a visit, you would find every flat surface filled with canning jars, buckets of tomatoes and peppers, a water bath canner bubbling away, a jam & jelly maker whirring, stacks of jar lids, paper towels, spoons, pickling salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and oodles of other things. I even brought in an extra table (remember this one? ) I love this table and need to find a way to squeeze it in the kitchen. Oh, and no, I will not be sharing pictures of the organized chaos.

Since my oven was built in 1950, I hesitate to have her on for the hours and hours that it takes to water bath and preserve food. Last year I picked up the Ball Fresh Tech Electric Water Bath Canner (here) and I absolutely love it. It does take the water a bit of time to boil, but while the water's heating up, I can sterilize my jars inside. I also have the Ball Jam & Jelly Maker (here) and I love it as well...it tackles the constant stirring so I can step away from the stove and focus on something else.  The only con is the recipes are tailored for the maker, and the yield is small: about 4, 8-oz. jars. It cools 30 minutes between batches though, and I've found that works just fine for me...I can prep another bit of jam to go in and the 30 minutes goes by quickly. I haven't tinkered with doubling recipes, but that could be on the winter to-do list. And so, if you're thinking about either one, I can highly recommend them both.

Well, this is a quick visit to say hi - tomorrow I'll be corralling the clutter in the kitchen and making Firecracker Pepper Jam. In the meantime, since I'm not sharing kitchen pictures (trust me, it's better this way), I'll leave you with some photos from the farm as well as some of the surrounding farms.

Plus, a quote and artwork by two of my favorite people...

Art credit: Susan Branch

Monday, September 4

a quick catch-up...

This is the time of year that has a busyness all its own, and can only mean one thing: harvest time! This week the days will be spent in the kitchen prepping, canning, and freezing tomatoes and peppers.

If you're like me, and you find yourself with oodles of tomatoes, here's an Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe I use that is quick, and so easy, just click: here.

And because I always seem to need tomato sauce for chili, I'm keeping it super-simple this year:  I'm just cutting the stem end off of tomatoes, quartering, and then tossing the quarters in the blender - no peeling!  After they're blended, I put them in the slow cooker, add some salt to taste, and let simmer several hours until they've thickened into a nice sauce. Truly, it couldn't be easier!

I had some baked goods left from the "not shop, shop" a couple of weeks ago, so I called a friend that loves old-fashioned bartering as much as I do...

A visit to her farm found us catching up, which is always great, while seeing all the sweet farm animals she has.

Meet Ferdinand!

His mom, Annie, shares her wonderful milk with us...which became the best chocolate ice cream.

My friend also sent us home with butter, cream, homemade mozzarella, dozens of eggs, and cabbage...what a blessing to be able to trade goods!

The cabbage was put into fermentation jars to become sauerkraut...it's a favorite of mine, but I've never made it before, so I'm anxious to see how it comes out. 

She has the prettiest views from her farm...

and the drive there, is beautiful as well.

This is what the blue, super moon looked like from our little corner of the world...well, as best as it could be captured with my phone...it was truly gorgeous as we were driving home at dusk.

And lastly, this was a view my daughter captured on our travels. It felt so vintage and classic Heartland to me, I wanted it to be black & white:

Thanks for visiting...wherever you find yourselves, have a great week!

01 09 10