Sunday, August 21, 2011

Well, there's no update in the pregnancy department. I'm officially one week from my due date, but still awfully eager. I have to remember that September, not August, has always been a favorite month of mine, so if the babe is late at least he'll be born in one of my favorite months.

Still, I'm getting to be large enough that picking anything up off the ground or floor is rather tough. My nesting seems to take the form of cooking more than cleaning. Today, for example, I made one meatloaf for eating, and 5 for freezing. Hurrah for the chest freezer. Tomorrow I plan to have another Beet Soup mania. My sister is here, making cooking pretty easy. Not only did she bring a double of her CSA share, but she also dotes on the little one so that I can cook in relative peace! That's nice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

a little tomato carnage

I finally did it. I used my own tomatoes in a recipe that called for "canned tomatoes." Don't ask where I had the energy to do this the other day, but I suspect that it had to do with the cooler, rainy weather. What nice thing it is to spend a rainy day making a quintuple batch of our favorite Beet Soup for freezing when my wonderful husband is around to keep the little one out of the kitchen. I froze 5 dinners worth of soup... the best kind of soup. There are many veggies in this soup, and nearly all of them were naturally grown in lovely Connecticut.
-Tomatoes from our yard
-Cabbage from our CSA
-Carrots and Beets from Shundahai and Tabacco Road Farms
-Onions from Tabacco Road
Next time, maybe we'll also have potatoes and celery from local farms, but as for now I'm pretty happy.

Now, Calamity Jane has a point, tomatoes frozen for a "later date" may never get the peeling, seeding and use that the good-intentioned freezer imagines. (And thanks for the shout out, Calamity Jane.) In this case, I did actually have to tap into my tomato stash in the freezer, because the 50 or so Juliette tomatoes we picked that morning didn't actually make the 5 cups of tomato puree I needed. I think that was the most shocking thing about this process--how many freaking tomatoes one needs in order to equal a modest amount of tomato pulp, or what-have-you. I mean, it's no wonder our tomato plants are over 7 feet tall and producing like crazy... they have to do so in order to earn their keep. An old Italian girl like me needs me a lot of tomatoes for the winter. More than I'll likely get from our patch this year.

Mind you, I actually find some pleasure in the dunking and peeling process. I remember writing a poem about it in my early grad school days... the visceral pleasure of peeling tomatoes. Again, it's one of those homemaking things that counts for a lot more than 5 cups of puree. It's just an interesting feeling to have tomato skins slip off in your hands, and even more fun to squeeze the seeds out. If I had been feeling patient, I would have called the little guy in from the sandbox to help, but the effort needed to coordinate boiling water, hot tomatoes, and a 2 year old seemed a bit excessive.

The color of the pulp was more pink than red, but the flavor was oh-so-tomato-y. It really changed the whole soup for the sweeter, the tangier, and the better.

Hurrah for nesting.

May my next post be about birthing.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

visiting the old market

flowers from the market

It was a crazy weekend, and I'm paying for a it a little bit in the body-aches category. But! Our fridge is now stocked with some great food. On Friday we visited some aunties in the town just north of us-- had a delightful lunch and swim-- and came home with a big bag of lettuce and cucumbers and herbs. On Saturday we decided to head up to our old farmer's market to connect with some friends before the baby comes, and to buy some veggies to make up for our missing CSA share this week. So glad we did. It just felt so good to have produce that we completely trust and that looks (and tastes) beautiful. I spent a lot of time (and wished I could have spent more) chatting with our friends from Shundahai Farm and Tabacco Road farm. It was great to see them! I wish I had my camera with me at the market. The beets in particular were impressive, especially because the greens looked just as good as the roots themselves. I'm planning to make up a quadruple batch of my favorite beet soup for freezing.

We also just bagged and froze 24 more Juliette tomatoes from our backyard.

The flowers we got were a gift at the end of the market from the woman who did the flowers for our wedding, almost 7 years ago. She didn't do the market for a few years, but I was so glad to see her back. She sells plants (I finally got a little pot of hens and chicks), onions, garlic, and flowers. But most people know her as the guru of the local food co-op. She's been managing the place since sometime in the 80s, I think. Have you ever met someone who you know has made a difference in a whole town? She has. Or, at least that's how I understand it. It must be really hard to be the leader not of a regular "business," but of a store-front food cooperative in a town that doesn't always seem to have too much going for it (in fact, it was dubbed the heroin capital of the east a while back). She exudes a kind of calm confidence. She seems to unabashedly speak her mind. She's clearly kind (the "co-op" kids love her). She has a generous spirit. When I asked if she'd be interested in doing the flowers for our wedding, she hesitated, and wanted me to know she was a gardener, not a florist, and she'd only done one small wedding before. But nothing beats seeing the seedlings for your summer wedding bouquet growing in the greenhouse in the middle of a snowy spring. Our flowers were one of my favorite parts of the wedding and I'll always be grateful that her adventurous spirit didn't balk at the thought of our somewhat formal church wedding.

Hope your weekend was full of happy reunions as well.


Friday, August 5, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Thanks to SouleMama for the idea!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

getting closer

big mama & little bear

This is now an old photo. Over a month ago we were up in the Adirondacks for a vacation before the ultra-hugeness of pregnancy descended. I guess we cut that a bit close, but I've still got 3 or 4 weeks to go.

Being so close to having 2 little bears around the house is exciting, but I'm apprehensive about the transition. I'm in a good rhythm with my little one *right now*. He's been extremely loving (throwing his arms around me and the belly and saying "I love you so much" and "I love the baby so much") and I feel as though I've actually been more patient than usual. Not that I'm a saintly earth-mama, but just that I've been able to put off my own tantrums more than I used to (maybe it's because the Papa bear has not yet returned to full-time teaching). I'm really enjoying our little guy's company and finding him charming in a new way each day. I know the next phase for us is bound to be challenging, but I'm also looking forward to the sweet moments of seeing the two guys meet for the first time, and seeing T. take a turn at being mommy's helper. Maybe that's a fantasy, but I know there will be some wonderful times in the months to come, though they'll often be crowded out by exhaustion and exasperation. I hope I remember to look for the magic in the chaos.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ready for the freezer!

our first tomatoes for the freezer

Oh! Our tomatoes, especially our Juilettes, are just growing like wild. It's amazing to see, especially since we haven't had to do all that much to encourage this growth. I was hoping that between our CSA and our tomato patch that we'd have enough tomatoes to save some for all the zillions of recipes for soups, stews, sauces, etc. that call for "canned tomatoes." Well, dear readers, though someday I may learn to can, it's not going to be this summer-- 9 months pregnant and chasing a toddler.

Instead, I'm freezing these beauties and crossing my fingers. Now, several resources suggested that I core, blanch/peel, and seed before freezing. But two reliable sources (Mother Earth News and a book on home freezing) said that it would work to simply core them, bag them, and freeze them. Apparently the skins, having been loosened by freezing , will simply slip off. Clearly, this is the method for me. I cored them, tossed them in freezer bags and created a vacuum by sucking the air out of the bags with a straw. Zip!

Hopefully it works. I'm sure I'll still have to use some boxed (gave up cans last year) tomatoes, but I'm also hoping that I'll have good enough luck with the freezing process to plant even more next time and go for broke. I wanted to start off slowly, so if it really didn't work I wouldn't feel like I invested too many hours in this.

I am quite sure anything I am able to stash for the winter will be from our own backyard. Our CSA has been terrible this year. So far the crowning jewel of the season was a recent e-mail from the "farmer" that this week's distribution was canceled due to lack of produce. Ugh. Most other CSAs are really in full swing and enjoying a particularly abundant season. It's been sort of sad to get one 2-3inch (long, that is) summer squash as our "share" of the harvest. But it's downright strange to have a week cancelled during a season like this, with NO explanation at all. I joined a CSA in our new area to try to connect more with our food and our community. It's been impossible to do either with this CSA. It's basically "run" by a board of directors who hired a farmer. They seem far more concerned with fund-raising dinners to restore their stone barn than with growing good food. I'm much more comfortable with family farmers who are devoted to the land and seem genuinely interested in the process of growing food. I can't help but think that this farmer doesn't care very much, because he's never once communicated with the shareholders about WHAT is happening at the farm. Something is gravely wrong with the soil, or the organization, or something, and we are left in the dark about why things have been so scant this year.

So, scratch that CSA for next summer. It makes me want to grow more and more in our backyard (small though it is). The tomato harvest (and it's just beginning) is encouraging. Very.