Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ketchup Recipe

22 pounds of DEAD ripe tomatoes (the boys loved this description)
I used mostly roma
2 big red bell peppers

puree then put thru some sort of gizmo to get rid of skin and seeds
put in super large pot or 2 large pots

8 large onions
1 head of garlic

puree and add to tomatoes

3 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
5 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp celery seeds

simmer in smaller pot for 30 minutes
pour thru sieve
add half to tomato mixture (save the rest for later)

add to tomato mixture

1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne
8 tablespoons of brown sugar
6 tablespoons white sugar
2 tsp sea salt

simmer simmer simmer (long time)


adjust flavour by adding sugar/salt/vinegar mixture or any of other ingredients

makes about 5 1/2 quarts

water bath 15 minutes


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Have I ever mentioned that my mother is psychotic?

And the zinger is that I'm slowly and surely morphing into her....yep, I now have 4 freezers. Granted, I have 3 growing boys.....
(She has 5 or 6, she's 70 and single)
I now have wine brewing in my front hall....it's sulphite free, let's pray it doesn't go "off".....
(She has wine from every fruit possible in her wine room, and 2 freezers full of fruit to make more!)
A fully loaded canning cupboard....just how many jars of fruit do 3 little boys need....
(She has a canning room 5x the size of mine, did I mention she is almost 70 and single?)
And a veggie garden that won't quit....
Ok, she helped me plant it.
I know where I'm going when WW3 hits. With a big generator and a hijacked fuel truck.....

A couple of years ago my mother (with whom I have a real love-hate thing going - pretty normal mother daughter stuff - so the next blog post may be about how she has totally messed me up!!!) brought me some tomatoes a friend had grown. They were incredible, red sunshine, bursts of flavour, to die for. I said, innocently, oh so innocently...."We should grow some in our greenhouse next year..."

It started in Feb or Mar. Her entire living area was covered with seedlings. She grew a bazillion tomato plants from seeds.

She filled our greenhouse. It's a big greenhouse. At least 30x60......

And I spent August, September AND October canning (and cursing!)

And I ran out!

This year, if you can believe it, by this point you are getting the idea, she planted MORE. And we have MORE. I personally have harvested around 400 lbs. Yep. 400. pounds. That is a LOT of tomatoes!

My canning cupboard if full, my freezer is full, I have salsa coming out the ying yang (and it's 0 mile salsa except for the cumin and vinegar!). I'm phoning friends practically begging them to come and take some off my hands.....

Today we made ketchup. The perfect tomato user. One recipe said 25lbs = 3 cups of ketchup. That's just crazy. We eat at least 3 cups a week. Which is EXACTLY why I want to make my own......GET RID OF FRUCTOSE-GLUCOSE CORN SUGAR CRAP!!! My mother made ketchup and I hated it. So now I'm making ketchup. The morph is almost complete.

The boys and I harvested (Ok they climbed the walls of the greenhouse and threw rotton ones out the window), the boys and I washed (ok I washed), the boys and I pureed (ok they loved this job), I threw it all in a pot (all 22 pounds) to start the reduction. And hubby says "You have to seive it to get rid of the skin and seeds" I wasn't going to do this step. He's like "It won't be ketchup, *EVERY* recipe I looked at said you have to do this step" The boys insisted. SO now I'm on the phone to said mother asking for her seive. (Mine was too fine and plugged immediately)

Did I mention my mother is psychotic? She loves kitchen gizmos. She owns EVERY kitchen gizmo ever invented. We drop everything and head to her house and come home with 3 ketchup gizmos and forgot her seive. How in the heck does she have 3 completely different gizmos for ketchup? (Two are for applesauce skin removal.....) She loves garage sales.

The super fancy one looked the best and it was. Like in 5 minutes hubby and the boys had all the skin and seeds out of our tomatoes. It's still simmering. It tastes DIVINE. It's smells like ketchup. Flavour explosion. TO. DIE. FOR.

No offence Mom but I think you left the skin and seeds in your ketchup!

Note: Photo added - Which is real which is homemade?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Digging it!

We dug potatoes, pulled onions, harvested squash - many squash, many many squash, too many to count.....We will be eating squash til the cows come home and we don't own any cows.
We canned chanterelles (found on our camping trip), shelled peas for freezing, topped sugar snaps for freezing, steamed edamame for freezing, and I still haven't looked in the greenhouse yet.....I suspect there may be just a FEW tomatoes ready for canning.....
There are late planted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots ready, beets....tomatillos (what in the heck do I do with them?), parsnips.....peppers, eggplants.....
The salad greens don't quit...
It's harvest season and it's awesome. I may actually fulfill my goal of not purchasing any veggies this winter....
The apples are falling and the cider press is calling.....
The pigs are enjoying the windfall bounty as we start our pick up route through town (I can pick up a LOT of apples fast.....)
There are still pickling cukes and customers (go figure) and I want to make another batch myself.....
I wish there was more time, but I need to sleep so off to bed I go.....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not back to school camping trip!

What a great time we had. Our first truly fun camping trip as a family. (The last time we went2 years ago the 2 youngest still weren't sleeping very well and we ended up a couple of zombies!)

While there and peeking at other families also camping in "school time" I really really thought how cool it would be if all the Pacific Northwest homeschool/unschool bloggers out there all booked into the campground on the first day of school and we had a "Unplanned unconventional unschooling unevent!" Camping4U!!

Ucluelet and Tofino and the coast that separates them are unsurpassed in their natural rainforest misty beauty. There is so much to do we could easily stay 2 more weeks and leave stuff undone. We stayed at the Green Point Provincial campground with access to one of the most beautiful beaches along the coast. Ok, all the beaches there are the most beautiful. I felt rushed and disappointed we didn't have more time - but at the same time exhilarated that there is still so much to do .... next year. It was hard to choose what to do each day.

We explored beaches, climbed rocks, watched waves, ran from waves, threw sand at waves, listened to waves, found shells, found pebbles, found wild chanterelles, hiked in to a crashed WW2 Canso bomber (1945 everyone survived crash), went geocaching - discovering neat beaches and walks we would have driven by unknowingly, ate marshmallows, got rained on, rode bikes...phew and that is what I remember. It was fun fun fun and the boys had a blast. They had us to themselves after a hard 3-4 months of farming stress :)

bummers: smokers who drop butts in tidepools or in rockpools of rivers; campers who don't want to walk to the toilets and leave their tp in the woods around the beautiful campsites (OK I get having to pee and a long walk, but HIDE or put your tp in the bin!); 2 inches of rain the first night....

uppers: new friends joining us for a lot of laughs; the utter joy and excitement on the kids' faces; the new (4 us) waterproof camper trailer!

I did not plan this cute little fella, and I'm not a pervert, but surely one can appreciate its artistic shape....next to my kids' shreddies......I also don't plan to offend anyone......if you want to see an even more graphic tomato I can post a link to a christian homeschooler's blog I read, her tomato has a scrotum........
So we went camping this past week - a "not going to school camping trip" at Long Beach, BC - I added this tomato to the bag of veggies I gave to a girlfriend from my garden. She didn't comment so I KNOW she didn't get to the bottom of her bag....I know her, she WOULD have noticed. I'm very disappointed in you J!!!Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 7, 2009

have I been censored????

When I look at my blog there is a little red x where my little red....er....tomato used to be??!! Have I been censored??? Or is my puter just being weird?? Anyone else seeing my tomato???

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our Food

The author of In defence of food, Michael Pollan is interviewed here.
I'm reading "In Defence of Food" right now.
As someone who bought into the "DON'T EAT FAT ANY FAT AND CUT DOWN ON YOUR PROTEIN" advice of the eighties, which to me meant EAT NO FAT and BECOME VEGETARIAN.....(and hay, get skinny too) it sure explains a lot of things. And I never did get skinny, just plain old unhealthy. Eating disorder city. bummer. what a waste of time. I digress.

Living on pasta and the odd carrot my poor body was STARVING for nutrients! It was craving them! I must have been SOOOOO unhealthy!! It kind of reminds me of my vegetarian sister who brings complete processed veggie soy crap into my house and then craves a pot of pasta or potatoes...What does her body really need??

When I met hubby I didn't know up from down with my eating. I'd eat nothing, binge on carbs, still be starving, binge on icecream and chocolate, and of course the endless feeling of hunger was never satisfied because I wasn't eating what my body REALLY needed. GOOD WHOLE FOOD. Now we eat pretty much what we want when we want, but based around a homegrown/produced/hunted/local backbone. Our mantra, no junk food is bad if we don't eat too much of it. I really want my kids to be comfortable with all the food choices available to them.

I wonder how many people in the US and Canada fit this description. How many really really hungry obese people out there who eat nonstop junk food are really STARVING for plain old good grown in the garden whole foods? Their bodies craving some nutrients no over processed piece of added value corn crap could ever provide?
Such enlightenment....
When is the US Government (Canadian?) going to realize the TRUE cost of corn subsidies?

No comment necessary!


Ok now my zukes have quit producing and I have copious quantities of eggplants!
(I spend a fortune on zukes and eggplants all winter!)

I had the cutest helper in the world!

So we're making eggplant parmesan with our tomatoes, onions, garlic and eggplants....no we didn't mill our flour ;)

Ironically the ratatouile has no zukes in it!!
(The last 2 are growing to take on our camping trip!)

We're just waiting for hubby to get home with mozz!
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wow..I am in awe of this quiet meek girl....

I have written a bit about the WWoofs we have had on our farm this year. Each and every one has taught us something, shared themselves and brought laughter into our home. The extra hands with the kids, farm and garden have been a godsend and we have made many many friends. Every time a new person arrives on our farm I think 'how can they possibly compare with XYZ who just left' and they do....
Currently we have a german girl K who came to us about 5 weeks ago. She began very quietly and joined us when we had other woofs here. She quietly fit herself in with the family and worked hard with us outside. As time has gone on and she has become more comfortable speaking English (one reason foreign WWOOFS like to stay with a family) the depth of her personality is growing on us.
I lived in Germany for one year as an exchange student so I understand some german and I know a bit about their culture. One aspect that I was exposed to was their school system. In Germany the kids are divided in the 5th grade into 3 streams. University, trades and workers. I don't know if that is the right terminology. When I was in Germany I lived with a family who had a grade 5 daughter - the father wanted her to go to the university stream and the mother, more practical perhaps, the middle stream. The pressure was enormous. She pulled out all her eyelashes. Once in a particular stream it would be very hard to change. The middle stream finished school at 16 and then did practicums....choosing their eventual career. K explained to me that she did her practicum in a bookshop and then went back to school so she could go to university and become a teacher. She struggled over her explanation but I got it. She said more people are switching streams now than in the past. However, when I was there it was almost impossible to do - a lot of determination was required. hmmmmm
So then she gradually tells us that she planned her year in Canada, bought her tickets, booked her visit to our farm before even telling her parents. None of her family had ever travelled. That takes some courage! Hmmm maybe there's more to this girl.
A couple of days ago she started walking around with paper and a pen and writing things down. Of course I was curious (nosey) and asked.....She told me she was planning a story...that she wrote stories. Oh! So I ask about the story.....it's an involved time warp fantasy story that takes place in 3 dimensions/universes that split when a baby is born and cries....
WHOA! (OK this chickie never dug fantasy novels......)
She has been busy at work on her planning ever since (hogging my laptop!)
Tonight I asked her more about her planning.
The story I got was a story that - I don't have the eloquence with words that many do to explain the feeling of awe I got - unschoolers/homeschoolers can certainly appreciate....
She's been creating stories since she was 8. In her mind. She has a huge multidimensioned story that has evolved and changed since she was 8 that is still to be written. She began when she was 8 and still has the 14 pages stapled together with one inch high letters. When she was 14 she wrote 200 pages of the story....it is still evolving in her head and one day it will be done.
She said she got poor grades in "german" because she wrote too slowly, had bad handwriting and couldn't spell. German was not her good subject and it was obvious to her mother and teacher that she should go to the middle stream schooling. HUH?! A child who has a creative mind spinning with stories slotted into an educational path that would never fulfill the destiny chosen for her. She remembers as a child being so frustrated by the stories in her mind she was unable to release because of the skill in her fingers (and poor spelling - my god how dare she!) I can remember slaving over a couple of sentences in grade 2 and being wiped out - Can you imagine having a novel in your head at 8???
She never really told her family about the stories in her mind. I got the feeling that she is realizing that her stories are good and she is proud of them...and more comfortable sharing them.
She has published some of her stories online and has had good feedback. After her year in Canada she will go to university to be a teacher (canubelieveit?) In her words "I have a wish and a dream - It is my wish to be a teacher but it is my dream to be a writer"
Does John Holt publish in german?
My guts feel all jiggly thinking about another amazing addition to our life.
The next JKRowling is picking cukes and weeding strawberries on my farm!
I wish her such amazing success.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Not many parents take their kids to bottle beer. We do. They can hardly wait to go. Something about the adultness of the job. The steps involved. The final product. Washing and rinsing the bottles, filling the bottles, capping them. There was a line of us all working - 2 washing and rinsing, 2 bottling and hubby capping and supervising the funky buttons on the bottle machine. It was so neat to look at the line of us all intent on our jobs. Of course we didn't let them sample the final product, until we got home ;)