Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Horses


"Grader", relaxing in the afternoon sun.

A boarder's Mustang, taking a stroll...


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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rainy Day

Today was the first day of fall. Rain and cloudy grey skies returned after a too short summer. I hope there is a little more summer yet to come! But I took advantage of the weather change to take pictures of the remaining flowers around the yard covered with raindrops.







I played with Picasa's center tint function to highlight this dark red rose.



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Following directions - green tomato salsa

Last year my favorite thing of all the food I canned was the green tomato salsa. It was seriously YUM - and I just finished my last jar of it, so it was the perfect time to make more. There's no shortage of green tomatoes right now either.

Lots of green tomatoes! Don't worry, there's still plenty left to ripen (if they ever do).

I spent a couple hours chopping all the onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes, in fact I spread the job over two days! Finally, I had it all in the pan, with the liquid - a mix of lemon and lime juice, and spices.


I boiled it, meanwhile I boiled the jars, and soon it was all ready to put together. I was following a canning recipe exactly. I had a little assembly line set up. I thought I had it all but I forgot one really important step! After you fill the jars you're supposed to use something to gently get rid of the bubbles down inside the jar before processing. I realized just as I put the last filled jar into the water bath that I hadn't done this! I pulled the jar back out and looked at it, and sure enough there were big air bubbles throughout the jar. I was really disappointed in myself - I'm supposed to be a master food preserver, and getting out the bubbles is basic stuff! I went ahead and processed them.

The trick is that if you realize you screwed up within 24 hours, you can reprocess the food safely. I had Dave pick up some more jar lids, and once it was cool enough to handle, I opened all the jars. I noticed the salsa was pretty chunky, and I remembered my teacher saying it should be kind of thin, so I dumped the jars, two at a time, into the blender and gave them a quick spin before dumping them into a pot.


While that heated to a simmer I washed the jars and got them heated up in the water bath again. Then I refilled them with the blended salsa. This time the salsa was so thin there weren't any air bubbles to worry about. I lidded them up and processed them like before.


There are very few small bubbles visible in the jars after processing, but that's ok. It was worth the time to reprocess these. All I lost was a few lids, and that's better than having to throw out spoiled salsa a few months from now. I think I will be enjoying these until it's time to make more next year!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Canning Stock

We went grocery shopping late Labor Day evening, and ran across a pleasant surprise - the store had roasted too many chickens and was clearing them out for $3.50 each! What a score! You can't usually buy a whole chicken for that price, let alone roast it yourself! We bought two, brought them home, and picked all the meat off them, and threw the bones in the pressure cooker. I also got a deal on a package of 6 half breasts, so I de-boned those and threw the trimmings into the stockpot and froze the meat for later. Then I threw in all the onion and carrot trimmings I'd saved up in the freezer, along with some garlic and celery, and I let the pressure cooker do it's thing, and by evening I had a giant hot pot of stock.

The brilliant part is that my last batch of stock was packed in the freezer, so I took it out and dropped those stock ice-blocks into the pot of strained stock, and as they melted they cooled off the new batch, and within minutes the whole thing was ready for the fridge. I thought that worked particularly nicely! After a day in the fridge I skimmed off all the fat, and it was ready to can.

So today I spent my morning pressure canning 17 pints of stock. It took all day, because it required two batches. I should have done quarts, then it would have only taken one batch, but I usually use it a pint at a time. The pressure canner wasn't as nerve-wracking as last time. I've used it to pressure cook stock a couple times, and this is my second time canning. I think it gets easier the more times you practice.





Beautiful!

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Garden Update

I am finally reaping the rewards of having a garden!


Tomatoes! Fresh tomatoes make it all worthwhile! Almost every year for the last ten years I've tried various types of gardens - container gardens, square-foot gardens, a big garden in the ground in freshly tilled pasture, and last year a lasagna garden, which was my biggest success in terms of big healthy plants, but because of the weather I only got green tomatoes. This year has been iffy - cool and wet - and I'm finally seeing some rewards - big yellow tomatoes! They are so soft and sweet, I can't believe it, I just want to gobble them all up fresh off the plant! The varieties are Azoychka and Taxi, and Black Cherry tomatoes. The Azoychkas are particularly nice!

I got some squash, but my results there are hit & miss. I think slugs have been dining on them, since they are so close to the ground. The parsley was destroyed by some digging rodents, and the same with the cukes (luckily I already picked some and made my pickles for the year).

Also on the counter is some rosemary I trimmed off my little rosemary bush which seems to be happy out in it's container in the garden. I can't believe how good it smells, I've never gotten any from the store that smelled that strong! I think I might need to roast a chicken tomorrow just to use some of that Rosemary!

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

TFM Promo Pics

Dave is directing the next play at Magenta Theater, Talent for Murder, and I am his assistant director. I also am the photographer for promotional pictures. Last night we had our photo shoot with the cast. On the way to the theater Dave and I were brainstorming ideas of what sort of shots to take. They need to be interesting and have some action in them, and hopefully if someone sees the picture in the paper it will catch their eye and capture their interest.

The play is about a rich old woman and her scheming children who are trying to split up the estate and get their inheritance before she's gone.

Dave wrangles the whole cast together and gives them the plan.


And, many shots later...


Then we had a little fun with the 'kids' fighting over the treasures


And with the 'scheming' angle...


So this was a pretty fun shoot, and I think we got some good shots. Hopefully they'll end up in the paper and get us a little publicity!

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