Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Homemade sauce and baby entertainment

Made some more spaghetti sauce today. It's such a simple recipe and I always make several batches each summer then freeze it for the winter. Just cut up a large onion and a large pepper and saute them in olive oil. While they are cooking core your tomatoes (about 2 large colanders full) and dunk them in a pot of boiling water for one minute. Take them out of the water when their skin cracks and put them into a sink of ice water. Peel off the skins and squeeze out the seeds. Then chop them coarsely and add them to the pot of now wilted onions and peppers. Toss in some dried oregano and some fresh basil and one or two bay leaves. Sometimes I add some diced garlic too. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer and let cook down for several hours (3 or so). At this point, I usually add some salt to taste. When it begins to get thick, add two or three tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water to the pot. This will thicken it quite well. Then I let it cool and pack it into freezer bags. You can experiment with the amounts of herbs, or add mushrooms, or browned meat, or crushed red pepper if you desire. It's an easy recipe to experiment with. It's one of our favorites.

My small butterfly/hummingbird garden on the side of the house is really beginning to come into it's own right now. The sunflowers are nearly 10 feet tall, with many blossoms per stem; the red salvia (Lady in Red) is driving the hummingbirds mad with desire; the nasturtums have taken over the world; the zinnias are going non-stop; and the New York asters have finally begun to pop open. It's a lovely sight out the dining room window during mealtimes. Our whole reason for putting it where we did was so our son can see it when he sits down to eat. He loves pointing out all the flowers and telling me what colors they are. The bees and butterflies and hummers seem to keep him interested and he thoroughly enjoys watching the goldfinches hanging from the sunflower blossoms and eating the seeds.

I'm also loving the current state of my strawberries. They were new this year and have spread so much over the past few months. They are really taking off. I expect a bumper crop next year. I experimented by planting them underneath the row of blueberries, so I'm not sure how they will do in the acidic environment I made for the blueberries by adding elemental sulfur. It will be interesting to see if it effects their production....so far it doesn't seem to be hurting their growth, that's for sure. I don't have much room here (compared to the farm) so I'm always looking for ways to create companion planting that's not only beautiful but productive as well. We'll see next year if it was a smart idea!

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