Tag Archives: preserving

Summer Diva {the heirloom tomato

A world without tomatoes

is like a string quartet without violins.
                                                           ~Laurie Colwin

pretty as a picture

Late September. There aren’t any signs of a frost in our northern river valley even though October is lurking on the next calendar page, and pumpkins, gourds and squash are the adornment in markets, shops and houses. The mecury still dances at 80 degrees — what a spectacular first week of autumn! Can you hear a long sigh of gratitude on this warm, early autumn day?

The tomatoes are still producing beautifully at Rose Cottage. The late afternoon sun casts a golden glow on the kitchen garden’s sweet tomato offerings — just as if each were in the spotlight before taking a final bow for the closing night of the season’s production. I dream of this moment each January as I study dog-eared pages of seed catalogues stacked knee-high next to my comfy reading chair. What can be better than enjoying the garden offering of a just-picked-from-the-vine warm tomato?

Sugar Plum Cherry Tomatoes FAV

Grandmother’s vintage white enamel pan quickly fills with tomatoes of all shapes and colors. These are not the standard supermarket varieties–each is an abstract piece of art calling for my attention — they are divas, you know. I pause and consider the wide array of sunburst colors in the chippy, old dish pan. 

Some Tomatoes in a Pan FAV

Onward . . .  stay focused . . . the sun is behind the hill and it will be dark soon. The indeterminate tomato varities — those that keep growing and growing — are nearing eight to nine feet tall and are spilling out over their five-foot rusty concrete reinforcing wire cages my sweet one made several years ago.  The standard issuance available at most garden centers doesn’t support the likes of those grown at Rose Cottage.

sugar plum cherry Tomatoes FAV2

I pick a handful of yellow, orange and red cherry tomatoes. The simple goodness is so satisfying. (Wait! Do I hear violins?!) At the moment, I really don’t think about how these luscious jewels are filled with all sorts of good-for-me things. Nothing matches the taste or the varied loveliness of these fresh beauties! I have set aside a large basket for you. Shall I drop them by for you to savor, too? It is my gift to you.

tomato offerings FAV

 At Rose Cottage, we are ardent fanciers of these garden offerings — whether the heirloom dinner-sized plate version or dime-sized jewels . . . red, yellow, purple or orange . . .  lusciously sweet or acidic.

Just Picked Heirloom FAV

Although, heirlooms are the hands-down favorites in taste tests for family and friends.

Heirloom Tomatoes on wood tray FAV2

This year, over 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes found their home in the Rose Cottage kitchen garden. Some fared better than others in our little microclimate.

Yellow Heirloom FAV

While we are not tomato experts, we are surely tomato aficionados and have been growing them organically for over 30 years — usually 100 or more plants of numerous varieties each year. I just can’t get enough of those sweet offerings!

golden heirloom FAV

preserving the beauties

My fingers are tinged dark green from the tomato vines. The aromas of earth, tomato leaves and fall co-mingle as the night air cools. The tree toads and crickets gather for their soire and begin their evensong. The tomatoes are gathered.

bushel of tomatoes

We try to preserve all the goodness and full-flavor of the tomatoes as quickly as possible. The kitchen is briming with tomatoes every which way. Most of the tomatoes we simply “put up” into quart canning jars following the USDA Guidelines for home food preservation.

P8310032

Later on, these canned tomatoes are perfect for making tomato soup or pasta sauce, or adding to chili, stews. and more. What is your family favorite for using tomatoes?

tomatoes and a torchon FAV 1

Some of the tomatoes are simmered on the back burner for hours with savory herbs and spices. The result — amazing ketchup — so delicious that it can almost be eaten with a spoon out of the jar. Now, this does not taste like the usual varieties . . .  nothing compares to these little half-pint pots of gold. How I would like for you to try some, too!

P9080434

ketchup

 The ‘Principe Borghese’ variety and some other heirloom Italian paste tomatoes are oven-dried with a drenching of Italian olive oil and sea salt. They turn into candied tomato nuggets — similar to sun-dried tomatoes —  and then stored in tomato herb-infused olive oil. Perfect for the antipasti tray, pizza or tossing into a salald or sauce!

Principe Borghese washed FAV

Tomato Halves in bowl FAV

Tomato Halves for drying FAV 1

Tomato Halves on Tray FAV2

Oven candied tomatoes in a jar FAV 3

 The evening has quickly cooled down to 50 degrees. The sudden mecury drop is a reminder that summer is lingering for only a moment or two longer. What else is in the kitchen garden that needs to be gathered soon? Wondering . . . how can some of this lovely day can be captured in a “jar?”

Maybe . . . just maybe . . . if I put a bit more of this gorgeous summer in jar, there will be sunshine and warm memories when the windchills are 40 below zero.

  

How do you capture a bit of summer’s memories?

You may also enjoy:

Exuberant Garden Offerings

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

Fall Nesting {summer in a jar

This post is linked on Hooked on Houses, The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

Post Script:

There is nothing better than enjoying a late summer offering of the sun-kissed tomato. Since she was just a toddler, Rebekah grows weak in the knees when she sees a tomato . . . she never misses a sample or two or three or more! If I couldn’t find her, I need not look any further than the tomato beds. (Note: The images are early digital — they are a few years old. The toddler picture is vintage — was scanned from a 1981 photo when Rebekah just turned one-year!)

Summer_in_a_Jar_1981_One_afternoon_of_picking_v2

Summer_in_a_Jar_003_RJ&Tomatoes2

Summer_in_a_Jar_001_RJ_cherry tomato2

Happy, happy birthday, dear Sweet Cakes!

All the tomatoes you want are waiting for you at Rose Cottage!

We have put some summer in a jar for you, too.

 

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Filed under Gardening

Antique Mason Jars {before and after

I wish we could put  up

some of the Chrismas spirit in jars

and open a jar of it every month.

                                    ~Harlan Miller

you’ve got mail

A bit of “Christmas spirit” was delivered rather unexpectedly in the Rose Cottage inbox. Crystal, from Olive Rue, is a fabulous photographer, and loves to give photo images a vintage look. A recent post about a collection of antique mason, ball and other canning jars was an inspiration for her. Crystal’s sweet gift was to take a few of the images of the rare antique canning jars and turn them into an image that could have been taken over 100 years ago.

before

The photographs are of amazing antique jars in dark olive green, turquoise, soft baby blue, cobalt and clear glass with glass lids. Take a look at the “before” images of the blue c.1858 Mason jars with some garden flowers from Rose Cottage . . .

1858 MASon and other antique blues with roses

1858 Mason FAV

 Now,  images of a rare dark olive green Ball jar and Canadian Jewel with just-picked strawberries . . .

Ball and Jewell FAV

Green Ball Jar and Strawberries

after

Crystal uses photographic techniques to alter these images to give them a soft, vintage look, while still capturing a freshness of the still life photos.

First, the altered c.1858 blue Mason . . .

1858-mason-and-other-antique-blues-with-roses

1858-mason-fav

Then, the dark olive Ball and clear Canadian Jewel . . .

ball-and-jewell-fav

green-ball-jar-and-strawberries

Aren’t they lovely? Thank you, Crystal, for making my day and sharing your talents by your kind gift of  Christmas spirit in a jar delivered to my inbox!

So, the question remains . . .

what bit of “Christmas spirit” can I put in a jar

and give to someone else to open . .

You may also . . .

Read more about Cyrstal’s photographer passion and her gifted art at the Olive Rue.

See more of the post with the “before” pictures of antique canning or Mason jars on Fall Nesting {summer in a jar.

12 Comments

Filed under preserving, Vintage

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

 You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces —

just good food from fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                           ~Julia Child

fresh and local

Ahh . . . the early weeks of autumn. The gardens and fields are exuberant. I am in heaven with all the fresh produce — either what we grow at Rose Cottage or what we are able to obtain from local growers and producers.

 The just-picked vegetable or fruit turns any meal into something fantastic! The fragrance, taste and texture of fresh produce truly shines in any recipe.

buy fresh buy local Mark and Sues 0909 v2

In the fall, the fabric of our lives are filled with gathering and preserving. It is incredibly difficult to exercise prudent restraint with the abundant produce — I have an insatiable desire to preserve it all. A few bushels never seems quite enough of one thing or another! The kitchen at Rose Cottage is bustling daily with various stages of preserving the plethera of fruits or vegetables.

lovely brambles

 While vegetables abound, the time is ripe for picking those precious little black nuggets — blackberries! The blackberries are about two weeks tardy in their appearance since it has been a bit cooler. Many of the brambles are still filled with gorgeous soft-pink blackberry flower buds and half-dollar sized five-petaled white flowers. Aren’t the blossoms simply lovely?

flowers bud, berry FAV

The rows of blackberries are all-a-buzz with hundreds and hundreds of bees dancing from flower-to-flower. The bees are growing quite dizzy in all the frenzy and merrymaking as they gather the blackberry flower nectar in the warm mid-morning sun.  Some bees are so overcome by the sweet nectar they nearly fall off the blossom.

flowers, bud, berries and bee FAV

gathering “black gold”

Aside for the boisterous bee chorus, all is quiet and peaceful as we start down the first row of blackberries . . . seeking the dark, beautiful berries. The unmistakeable sweet fragrance of just-mowed alfalfa lingers following each sporadic breeze coming from the southwest. The first row furthest to the north is just developing berries. It is fascinating to observe the berries from bud to blossom to blackberry on one bramble.

blackberries (unripe) and flower FAV2

One ripe blackberry FAV

While many berries are still underripe, we find many gorgeous 1/2 to 1-inch berries on the south side of the rows. The darker berries are ripe. When ripe, they so sweet and luscious! My fingers become stained with the beautiful dark purple-red juice. One berry for the ice cream bucket . . . one to sample . . .Someone has to make sure they are perfectly ripe.

Blackberry clusters FAV

The effects of the warm September sun, the soothing music of the bees and nature’s aromatics are futile to resist. I look up from my intense berry gathering to find my Sweetie comfortably resting with his hands behind his head on the meadow grass between the berry rows. He looks so peaceful! Just a sneak peek into his ice cream bucket reveals there is barely enough to cover the bottom. I laugh, but am so glad he can rest! Back to picking berries, but not without first noticing my Sweetie’s quick wink and impish smile.

priceless treasures

We are both content and enjoy the amazing moments amongst the beautiful berries and brambles on a gorgeous September day. Time seems to stand still whilst picking berries. I think of nothing and everything all at once. What a day to treasure!

Soon, the two buckets of the beautiful black gems will be preserved as jam or frozen as whole berries to be enjoyed over the winter months.

blackerries in a bowl FAV

blackberry jam FAV

And . . . the memories of a gorgeous day linger as brambles are added to a lovely bouquet of roses. Memories . . . just gathering some more roses for winter . . . roses and blackberries FAV1 Love is a fruit in season at all times,

and within reach of every hand.

                                             ~Mother Teresa 

You may also . . .

Enjoy reading about Fall Nesting {Summer in a Jar and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

Also posted on  Hooked on Houses,  The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

 

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Gardening, preserving

Fall Nesting {summer in a jar

The late summer garden has a tranquility

found no other time of year.

                                                              ~William Longgood

time for change

September is my favorite time of the year . . . the air is crisp, clear and fresh . . . the early morning and evening lighting is more enhanced as the angle of the sun changes . . . and fall colors are starting to emerge on the trees. Just this week, glimmers of vibrant reds and golden yellows sporadically dot the sugar maples and sumacs along our river town. The colors are promising to be a gorgeous contrast to the vibrant greens enjoyed throughout the summer.

Amur Maple FAV

I think about September as a time of change. It is a time of change in that new creative ideas and goals for the months ahead can be made. One way of change is to decorate for fall — simple ideas that make a home feel welcoming, warm and cozy. Jenny Wren needs a little update to celebrate fall around one of her many houses at Rose Cottage. Don’t you think her nest looks quite autumnal bedecked with broom corn?

Wren House and broom corn FAV 3

What fall decorations are you adding to welcome friends and family to your front door?

time of preparation

September is also a time of preparing and preserving the summer garden produce for the months ahead. I really feel that I am “nesting” as I put fresh vegetables and fruit in jars to be enjoyed in the months ahead or give as gifts with family and friends.

Marybeth shared a few of her antique canning jars with me — some are from 1858! I think about all the women (and men) who “put food up” for the winter months in these amazing hand-blown glass jars. I wonder what their lives were like as they began their fall nesting . . .

Ball and Jewell FAV

Canadian Jewel FAV

Green Ball Jar and Strawberries

Jewel lid FAV

While the dark olive green Ball is perfectly beautiful and rare, and the Canadian Jewel is a real treasure, I still am quite drawn to the lovely blue canning jars — all in various shades from a robin’s egg blue to cobalt. 

 Four Blue Canning Jars

1858 MASon and other antique blues with roses

EZ Seal Antique and Cobalt Blue FAV 1

1858 Mason FAV

Nov 30 1858 CLOSE FAV

While preserving and “putting food by” is a bit of work, it is immensely satisfying to see the glimmering jars of golden peaches, red tomatoes, perfectly sliced pickles, and an array of  jeweled jams and jellies lining the pantry shelves.

Pickled onions and bird FAV

Jeweled Raspberry Jelly FAV

Sweet Baby Crock Pickles

Crab Apple Pickles

Best Ketchup EVER FAV

Sometimes, I go down to the pantry cellar, turn on the overhead light and just admire the gifts of summer. 

Strawberry Jam

For me, canning or preserving is like putting summer in a jar to enjoy when the north winds howl and temperatures are well-below zero — just a few months away!

Peaches

Do you put a bit of summer in a jar? Do you have a favorite to preserve?

Perfect Seal and Brown eyed Susan FAV

You may also enjoy reading Beautiful Berries and Brambles and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

This is also posted at Twice Remembered,  The Inspired Room,  A Southern Daydreamer and Designs by Gollum.

30 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Gardening, Home, Homekeeping, preserving

Savoring Violets {la partie deux

Hath the pearl less whiteness because of its birth;

Hath the violet less brightness for growing near the earth?

                                                                                                       ~Thomas Moore

second thoughts on day two

What was I thinking when I decided to make jelly using a simple spring flower?  Oh, modest violet–what kind of flavor do your azure blue blossoms impart to a jelly?

Blue Violets close

My taste buds and mind can’t quite grasp the flavor, even though I cook with a lot of fresh herbs and culinary flowers. Is violet jelly a novelty or is it something that I would really serve our guests at Rose Cottage? 

glass basket and violets

jelly making

Yesterday, I spent a fair amount of time preparing for jelly making — picking enough dainty, sweet blossoms (all chemical free!) to nearly fill the English trug, and then removing the blossoms from each stem while struggling against wind gusts. So, I resolve to not give up on making violet jelly. (Read more about getting started on making violet jelly on yesterday’s Savoring Violets post.)

Monet in a Jar

After, 24 hours of “steeping” in the refrigerator, I strain the infusion using a fine mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup . The result is crystal clear light turquoise-colored violet water.

Violet Infusion Before Lemon

One Meyer lemon is squeezed–decidedly, to preserve the gorgeous color and fresh delicate flavor.

Meyer lemons and violets

Next, the juice of the lemon is strained using the fine mesh strainer. The 1/4-cup of lemon juice is added to the turquoise-colored violet water. Viola!

Violet Infusion After Lemon

Look at this! Isn’t it remarkable how the violet water turns to the most gorgeous rose color within seconds after adding the lemon juice?

Then, in a large stainless steel pan, I pour in the rosey violet water and add one box of powdered pectin. The mixture is brought to a boil, and 4-cups of granulated sugar is added. This mixture is brought to a boil again, while stirring constantly. It is kept at a full-rolling boil for one minute, then removed from the heat. One-tablespoon of raspberry liquor is added for an extra depth of flavor; although, this could be entirely optional.

The violet jelly is quickly ladled into sterilized jars and sealed with lids and rings. It is then processed for five-minutes in boiling water bath.

This recipe results in nearly five half-pint jars of beautiful rose-colored jelly.

But how does it taste?

refreshing violets

Now, my dear friends, would you want to know what was that most amazing jelly you just savored along side a sliver of triple cream Brie, fresh-picked raspberries and a still-warm baguette? Or that you just had as accompaniment to your tea and scones? Would you try it if you knew what it was in advance?

You will be absolutely befuddled with the simple brightness and amazing delicateness of the jelly– you will never guess it is the low-growing, sweet violet providing such refreshment!

Oh, yes! My dear sweetie is still swooning over his sampling of the spring nectar from the unassuming violet–you will, too! But, I might not tell you what it is until you are done raving about it and begging me for a jar of the amazing jelly to take home!

Violet Jelly

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Filed under Cooking, Gardening