Thursday, August 16, 2012

In And Out

I hope that all of you can excuse my absence lately.  I have not been around and will be in and out over the next few weeks.  After many years of substitute teaching on Monday I was hired to teach first grade for this school year.  It is exciting to have my own class but there is a lot of work in preparing my classroom and most of my days right now are spent from morning to night at school.  I will be in and out over the next few weeks as I have time and I look forward to catching up with all of you soon!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Yesterday I said it has not been a bumper year for tomatoes.  Part of the reason why is that I have three very short tomato plants that have stopped growing.

On the left is the husky tomato plant which has stopped growing at two feet tall.  The top broke off and a sucker has not replaced it.  On the right the celebrity plant has stopped growing around a foot tall.  Both have produced tomatoes but I wonder what they could have done had they kept growing.  Both are indeterminate varieties that should be MUCH taller.  I picked them because they are supposed to be prolific and I wanted to can a lot of tomatoes this year.  Obviously they haven't held up to their claims.

This is a Mannitoba which I tried out this year because it was supposed to produce extremely early tomatoes.  The celebrity produced a ripe tomato first and this plant produced tomatoes just a few days earlier than my other varieties.  It is a determinate plant but I thought it would putter out at around four or five feet tall not at about two feet tall.

These tomatoes have been treated the same and the soil was also amended exactly the same as all of my other plants which are at least three times their size.  I'm not quite sure what happened with these three but they are definitely stunted.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


These are the tops of my Amish Paste(left) and Green Zebra(right) tomato plants.  They have turned brown and are not growing anymore.  Both are indeterminate but have puttered out at about 5 feet tall.  When they were showing signs of slowing down I added tomato-tone to the soil at the base of each plant and watered it in and then a few days later watered in fish emulsion but it seems both are going to give out.

I went ahead and did the same for all the other plants that haven't given out but have definitely slowed down.  It has not been a bumper year for tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baby Eggplant!

I finally have a baby eggplant growing!  It has taken my eggplant forever to get going this year.  My first plant never died but it also didn't grow so a month after planting it I had to change it out.  This one has been growing but a bit slower or maybe it just feels that way because it got a late start being planted out a month after the first.  Last year I only had one plant and it went gang busters, we couldn't keep up with it.  This year I am wishing I had planted more plants, but I was afraid I would have too much.  At least they are coming now!

Another one on the way also!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I spent time over two days working on canning the bulk of our two boxes of peaches.  We ended up with 25 quarts, which is double what I did last year.  All in all I am happy with the results.

 This year I did a little experimenting with the different batches to try to eliminate fruit float.  Last year I canned peaches using the raw pack method with an extra light syrup since we don't want the extra sugar.  But no matter how much fruit I put in the jars they still floated which isn't harmful but doesn't look as pretty.
This year I tried the hot pack method and raw pack with heavier syrups.  In all the methods the fruit floated.  I definitely didn't like the hot pack method because the fruit became too soft and in the cans are mushed together.  The pieces in the raw pack cans hold their shape much better.  The hot pack method also had the hassle of the extra step of heating/cooking the peaches first.  All in all since none of the methods reduced fruit float I am sticking with the easier raw pack with extra light syrup in the future.

Monday, August 6, 2012


 My entire potato harvest, a total bust.

Slow and steady of a little bit here and there.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Over the weekend we went to Indy to visit my sister and her husband.  We started off the weekend with a trip to the state fair.


On Saturday we made a trip out to Traderspoint Creamery, an organic, sustainable dairy.  We took the "tour" which turned out to be nothing but a walk down a gravel road to a field with a few cows in it.


Multiple times we were warned about the electric fences and not upsetting the bulls while out in the fields.  We didn't quite get what the big deal was until we got out there and realized the only fence between us and them was a single electrified wire (which you can sorta see below) and wouldn't stop a charging bull.

 I got a lot of pictures of the animals but none of the humans, whoops.  We spent the rest of the weekend eating some good food and catching some Olympics.  Overall a great weekend with family!

Friday, August 3, 2012


Boxes of Pennsylvania peaches are available in our area a few weeks earlier than normal.  We love these peaches over those from the south because they always seem to have better flavor and are significantly juicier.  No matter how you eat them fresh they are always messy because they drip so much juice.

Our favorite place that carried them closed last fall so I asked around and found another orchard that orders them from the exact same place.  I drove an hour each way just to get these beauties.  You would think living in a big city we should be able to find a closer supplier.  But we take our peaches seriously and can't find any peaches that hold a candle to these in the Cincinnati area.

Last year I only got one box and Andy had to ration the canned peaches to make them last.  So this year I went for two boxes and split the second with my Mom.  I have a couple days of canning ahead of me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozarella

One of my favorite summer dishes to make is a simple pasta dish that uses fresh tomatoes.  I cook any kind of pasta according to package directions.  Then in a separate pan I saute minced garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil for one minute then add in multiple chopped tomatoes.  I normally use at least 4 or 5 large tomatoes but it really depends on the size of your tomatoes and how much tomato you really want.  I cook the tomatoes down for a a minute or two then season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the pasta, add some chopped basil and fresh mozarella.  That's it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cherry Jam

I was able to get my hands on some tart cherries even though much of the crop was ruined by frost this year.  I love cherry jam made with tart cherries and so used all the cherries to make jam.  Unfortunately I had 3 half pint jars of jam crack and break in the canner during processing.  One broke in the first batch and two in the second.  I am not sure what happened.  I properly inspected, washed and preheated all the jars before processing.  But it made me sick because of how much I love this jam and how sparse cherries are this year to have three jars ruined.