Nearing the end

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This week has been a bit unproductive for me.  Remember those immune boosters I shared with you a couple weeks ago?  Yeah, well, they work a little better if you actually use them.  For some reason I’m fairly faithful with applying them to the little guy, but it’s easy to forget about myself.  I’m so thankful for my sweet hubby & his willingness to stay home & give me a little break so I could get back on my feet.  I’ve bounced back pretty quickly, but it’s amazing how quickly those little daily tasks that you don’t really pay much attention to, pile up.

I’ve neglected my blog here for a few days in an attempt to make some headway, but I thought I’d make just a quick appearance today to share some of the last fruits from our garden this year.  We’ll have a bit more of a harvest for sure, but there’s no doubt it’s winding down as you can feel the chill of fall in the air.  No complaints here, I adore this time of year!

I’ve purposefully not shared much, if at all, about our garden this year, since there was very little to share.  I hesitantly made the decision in the spring to make major cutbacks to my normal garden plans.  With our garden space located between our garage & the alley, behind our house, I couldn’t figure out a way to tend to the garden {that I’d be comfortable with} with the little man.  We do use the stroller,  but let’s be honest, there is definitely a time limit on how long that’s fun, for him & therefore for me as well :).

So, all my hopes & dreams of a big beautiful garden dwindled to tomatoes & peppers.  It worked.  I’m glad I didn’t have more to tend to, at least for this year.  And, despite the lack of variety, there has been no lack in production.  I’m currently looking at buckets of produce in my kitchen & have a little canning party planned for myself this evening.  I’m happy.

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

End of Summer Harvest

July 5th Garden Update

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I hope you all had a fabulous Fourth of July!  We spent our day roofing & painting, we’re real thrill-seekers here I tell ya! 😉

I meant to share a garden update here at least monthly, & I just realized it’s been two months since I last posted anything garden related, oops!

Things are really growing, despite the high temps lately, it’s just taken a little extra care in watering to keep things alive.

I’ve been really surprised by the resilience of my lettuce on these sweltering days.  As long as I keep my lettuce pots out of the direct, afternoon sun, they do very well!  We’ve had several salads from the two pots that I planted, I just pick the outer leafs & they keep right on producing.

I have 4 roma tomato plants this year, the plants seem to be doing well & I see lots of green tomatoes!  Still waiting on the first ripened one yet.  There’s also an eggplant stuck in the middle there, he’s showing lots of potential as well. :-)

 Green peppers {not sure what’s going on with the runt of the litter in the back-left, I’ll have to give him a little pep-talk}

We’ve been enjoying lots of these yummy things!

I planted another whole row of peas a few weeks ago & all I got was 4 little seedlings up, pretty sure I have a case of the grubs, not so cool.

I’m attempting to have these gourd vines grow up these tomato cages, has anyone successfully done this?  Any advice?

The green bean plants are getting big!  I planted these much later than I would have liked so I haven’t had any to pick yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long & I’ll have way more than 2 people can eat {at least that’s what I’m hoping for!}.

The pumpkin vines are growing like mad!  This is a bit of an experiment this year.  I’m attempting to corral these in a not-so-large space, I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

And here’s my watermelon vines that I’m growing right next door to those mad pumpkins, in the not-so-large spot.  This could be interesting.  Look at the cute, little baby watermelon…

There’s a few weird things growing in our garden this year too.  You see, because we’re super smart, last Fall we threw our old pumpkin back in the garden area to become disgusting rest in peace.  Well of course, all of those seeds did their thing & starting growing like crazy this Spring.  I did my best to clear out the old seeds & put an end to their existence {I’m not a mean person, really!  They just weren’t growing in the appropriate areas!}.  But, this guy just wouldn’t give up, & so, I’ve decided to let him show me what he’s got.

This pumpkin & this watermelon {I don’t even remember throwing a watermelon out back here!} are also, ahem, unplanned.  But, their resilience has won out, they’ve earned a spot, however out of order they may be.

 In my backyard boxes, the rainbow chard is hanging in there.  I haven’t figured out how I want to try cooking this yet, so for now it’s been more ornamental than anything, but that’s okay, I think it’s really pretty.

I finally have some carrots growing!  For some reason, I’ve never had much luck with carrots before, so I’m hoping this is finally my year!

I’m also trying to grow celery this year.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone local talk about growing celery before so I’m not even sure if it grows well in our area, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyhow.  I had 4 plants, I’m down to these 2, we’ll see what happens.

 I LOVED finding a couple of these beautiful monarch caterpillars on my dill the other morning!  They may not be the best for my plants, but they’re so cool I didn’t even care.

How’s your garden growing?

May 3rd Garden Update

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The last few days have been some busy ones in the garden!  I remember a few weeks ago feeling like I was maybe putting some things in the ground too early {I was sure we’d get hit with a late April blizzard or something!} & now after a couple 80°-90° days, I feel like I’m way behind!!

This year I’m definitely trying to expand our gardening spaces & trying out many new crops that I’ve not grown before.  I’m really excited to see how things turn out.

I took a few snapshots this morning as I was walking around the yard…

I planted these peas at the beginning of April in our alley garden {it’s the space between our garage & alley, gotta be creative when you live in town:)}.  The seed was actually leftover from last year & I think about every seed I planted here germinated!  We’ve got a little ways to go before we start plucking delicious sugar snaps off these babies but they’ll get there.  I’ve been planting a couple new rows every couple weeds so that we have a fresh harvest for as long as possible.

On our back patio we have this fun wooden trough thing that we picked up at an auction last Fall for a buck or something like that.  At first, my plan was to turn it into a table but I’m really liking it as a place to set more of my garden!  I have some lettuce growing nicely that I planted at the beginning of April as well.  As you can see here, if something holds dirt, I’m probably going to plant something in it!  I really like unconventional planters {just be sure to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage!}, they create a much more unique, homey space I think.

These are some garden boxes we made from scrap wood from my hubby’s work.  They were my first attempt at having part of my garden in the backyard where our dog could get to it.  Unfortunately, this has created some setbacks…

In case you can’t tell, in this picture the middle box has been almost entirely emptied of it’s dirt.  I’m pretty sure Miley is telling me here that she just thought she was helping.:)

So, we’ve resorted to chicken wire & lovely bricks for the time being.  From all of her dirt throwing I also have little plants sprouting up in different boxes than I had planted them in.  I’m thinking about calling this the “Can you name that plant?” garden.

These boxes are also a new addition this year & have all been planted with herb seeds over the last couple of days.

Check out my nifty new garden markers too…

I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure how quickly the permanent marker will wear off but it seemed like a cool, cheap {more like free if you have a couple rocks laying around} & aesthetically pleasing option to try out.

It’s killing me that I don’t have these in the ground yet…

I was a little slow getting my seed potatoes ordered this year & then I let them sit around forever it seems{check out the size of the “eyes” on those things!} before I got around to cutting them.  I cut these a couple days ago so they’re ready to be planted, hopefully tonight!  {If you’re not familiar with growing potatoes or have just never done it like this before, I let my potatoes air dry for 2-4 days after cutting & before planting.}

I got a little carried away ordering garden seeds!  Lots of seeds to get in the ground yet {I’m not ever sure where all of these are going to go!}, better get back to planting!!

How’s your garden growing going?

Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Roasted Tomato Sauce

I’m going to share a recipe today that, I know, is drastically out of season.  It certainly seems that it would make more sense to share this later in the Summer.  But, if you’re a gardener like me, you are probably wondering just how many tomato plants to put in your garden this Spring.  This recent revelation in making my own tomato sauce will definitely have me planting a few extra tomato plants this year.

This is the easiest method for saucing tomatoes that I’ve found & the finished product is delicious!  I think after seeing how easy this process is, you too will be making space for more tomato plants in your garden this Spring!

If you don’t garden, that’s okay too!  Check out your local farmer’s market for great deals on garden fresh tomatoes.  Later in the Summer, you can usually find boxes of tomatoes at bargain prices!

So, check out how easy this process is, plant some tomato plants (or make plans to buy out the tomatoes at the farmers market) & come back in a few months to start making your own fresh, from scratch, Roasted Tomato Sauce!

Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

I like to use Roma tomatoes for saucing.  They contain less water than other varieties so there’s less cooking down to do.  To be clear though, any variety of tomato should work with this method.

Wash & core your tomatoes..

& slice in half…

Spread into a large pan with tall sides. {Tall sides are important!  The first time I did this I used a short-sided pan & I had a HUGE tomato juice mess in my oven, oops!}

You can also use frozen tomatoes, like I have…



When I’ve used frozen tomatoes, they are just cored.  I don’t worry about them being sliced & they’ve always turned out great!

Place in a 400* oven for 1 hour, stirring & turning the pan once or twice.  When they’re done, they’ll look something like this…


The skins get kind of blistery & weird looking, that’s what you want.

Let them cool for just a few minutes on the counter.

Using a large spoon, scoop out the tomatoes from the pan into the jar of your blender, leaving most of the juice in the pan.

Blend it up!


Now, if the sauce is already to the consistency you want it at, you may be done here- move ahead to seasoning the sauce if you’d like, or prepare it for freezing or canning. If you’d like it a little bit thicker, transfer to a stockpot to simmer & reduce down.

Simmer until the sauce has reached the desired consistency.  {By leaving most of the juice in the roasting pan, I’ve never had to simmer my sauce for very long.}

At this point, you can season the sauce with the seasonings of your choice.  Some of our favorites are basil, oregano, parsley etc.  Or, you can leave it plain & add the needed seasonings when you cook with it.

If I’m not using the sauce right away, I transfer it to small freezer containers or glass jars (be sure to leave plenty of head space if using jars).  Allow the sauce to cool down some before placing in the freezer.

This sauce can also be canned.  I’m not a canning expert, so you’ll want to follow the USDA’s guidelines for Home Canning to be sure you do this safely.

Use in place of store-bought, canned tomato sauce in any recipe or use to create your own pasta or pizza sauce!

There you have it!  This is such a simple process.  You don’t have to peel slippery little tomatoes or simmer on the stove top for hours on end!  Just roast them in the oven, blend them up & Voila`!

Come back tomorrow for Spaghetti & Meatballs! Yum!

Updated 9/9/13 with more recent {& better} pictures

Update 8/7/12: Linking to Sundae Scoop Link Party at I Heart Naptime

Update 8/21/12: Linking to Tuesday Talent Show at Chef-in-training