As the weather changes, thoughts turn to canning... Or at least they do in my house! We usually make our own pizza sauce, and we make our own jams and preserves. We tend to do them in batches - so we have supplies for a couple years at least.
This time, it's pizza sauce. Though, in the search for jars in the basement, Hubby found two cases of old sauce - like embarassingly old. Which we pitched. Canned goods - home-canned, I mean - don't last forever, in spite of what we'd like to think. But luckily, the rings and the jars are reusable. The lids aren't - or at least for the canning part. I like to have a few used lids, so that if I'm using a canning jar to shake up some salad dressing or the like, I can have a spare lid or two around. I don't re-use them for hot water bath canning.
So my recipe is simple: I cut tomatoes up and freeze them as we go through the season. I don't bother blanching them or anything, but I try to use home-grown, because I think that, for the most part, store-bought tomatoes taste like nothing. So I've also been known to scrounge from friends - "do you have tomatoes that you're not using?" And usually, I'm rewarded.
I also buy organic peppers, mostly red and yellow, because they're more ripe (though it looks like a small bag of green peppers made their way into the sauce). Core them, cut into quarters and freeze them. I use home-grown leeks (if we're growing them), home-grown carrots, and home-grown celery. I roast garlic and squeeze the cloves into the sauce. This time, we didn't have leeks, so I used shallots, which I sauteed lightly. Add 4 Knorr Vegetable broth cubes (mostly because I don't have home-made veggie broth), salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. If you can get away with it (and I forgot this time!!), toss in some shredded zucchini for extra veggie power. Make it vegetarian/vegan by sauteeing everything in either olive or avocado oil.Herbs, you may ask? Okey-dokey.... Parsley, rosemary and basil -- again, from my garden. Lest you think I'm Martha Stewart, I'm a person who likes to grow herbs mainly because they're pretty.
A bit of lemon zest, just because. And adjust as you go, because it may need more of something. Also add about a quart of water. This time, we had a HUGE pot. I mean, insanely huge, which Hubby bought because he thought it was a good idea. Well - it's so tall that I can't stir it without getting my tender bits too close to the hot pot! So he's really handling it all. I'm doing the recipe mainly from memory, as my tastebuds are still shot, thank you Covid.
He ended up, on a trip to get some groceries, stopping by the local restaurant supply place to get an extra-long spatula to stir the pot because nothing I had was tall enough! When it's reduced down by about a third or so, we usually add 2-3 small cans of tomato paste. Then, turn on the stick blender and whiz till your preferred texture.
You could, if you weren't making a Lake Michigan-sized batch, whiz it up in a blender - and of course, only fill the blender about half-way because hot sauce + a fuller blender container = an explosion that seriously causes burns as well as some amazing "sauce splatter patterns" on the various kitchen surfaces (ask me how I know this...).
We think that, this time, we'll get over 40 pint jars (update: we got 50 pints!!!). That's a lot of sauce. The pot just keeps giving. I started calling it "Mary Poppins' Pot" but Hubby refers to it as 'The Loaves and Fishes" because the sauce Just. Keeps. Coming.
In the next few weeks, we'll be doing jams/preserves. I'll have to see what we have in the freezer for berries. I know we at least have blueberries and strawberries. Hubby says we may have apples...in which case, I'll make some applesauce. Extra chunky, which I love with pork. Or over ice cream. It's all good!
The Spurtle Is Found...
Well, my great-granny wouldn't have called it a spurtle, because that's a Scottish term for the spoon they stir their oatmeal with. But it looks like a spurtle - it's her polenta spoon. For years, we thought it was lost. My mom has been doing her Swedish Death Cleaning - she'd been at it since before her hip replacement. Actually, since my sister died, my mom has been on that tack. It's kind of making me crazy because she's giving me stuff. I have no idea what to do with it, because my kids aren't going to want it. And I can't bear to toss it just yet. But I know it's a lost cause when I'm dead...to be honest, I'm just about the only one old enough to remember the people associated - and as well as remembering, CARING about them and the history behind some of these items and pictures. There's maybe ONE other person who would be interested, but that doesn't mean that anyone younger than me actually wants stuff. Anyway - she gave me an apron of my granny's, and I do honestly wear her aprons because they're big. Great-granny was a substantial woman, and the aprons were nothing fru-fru...they were meant to cover her up when she was in the kitchen and those aprons meant business.
Lo and behold -- wrapped in the apron was the Polenta Spoon...in reality, a wooden spoon which she had my grandpa (my mom's dad) carve down into a smooth stick. Because, in the Old Country, you used a stick to stir your polenta.
To be honest? THIS thing will be something one of the kids will latch onto. Not the china or silverware or pictures. Now I have to grab a pan and make some polenta, especially with the weather getting cooler. And with the pizza sauce? Yummy! Or for breakfast, with butter and a touch of honey.
The Knitting Continues...
I'm plugging away at the knitting, and for some reason, it's just dragging. On. And. On. And. On. It shouldn't be like that, but sometimes, knitting just is a tremendous drag. I have a few WIPs that I am not sure I want to complete; and I'm not sure I want to frog them either. It's a quandry for sure.
I'm torn. I have start-itis, and I need another WIP (work in progress) like I need a hole in my head. But the socks aren't doing their usual magic. I feel like casting on another pair, but the singletons are mocking me from their project bags: "Finish ME for Pete's sake!!" and I should - that way, I actually get a PAIR that I can wear!
I'm in knitting ennui. A slump, if you will. I hate slumps.
I had wanted this tee (the pattern says it's a tee - I'm considering it an "overlay" to a tank top or long-sleeved tee) to be done so that I could wear it this summer, since it's linen. But all kinds of crap interfered with my knitting mojo and I'm actually forcing myself to work on it. That's never good, in my opinion, but it's sort of where I'm at right now.
I got a lot of compliments on my Fluoromania socks when I finally decided that it was now cold enough to wear socks again and posted a picture of them on Facebook - that yarn that was all the rage a few years (or more) ago where the colorways were actual fluorescent blends in outrageous combos, such as flamingo pink and electric blue, and a vibrant tie-dye blend of violet, lime green, yellow, and magenta. I have one hank of this Regia yarn left and it's in chartreuse with lime green. I really, really want to whip up a pair of socks in this, just for the shock value alone. I kind of wish it was still "in" because these days? Who doesn't need shocking socks?
Right now, none of my projects are "portable and mindless." Which is why socks are drawing me in again. I can just do a vanilla pattern and let the yarn do its thing. The "let the yarn work for you" thing is why I do a lot of vanilla (plain) socks. And when I do patterns, they're usually only on the leg, mostly because I don't like the feel of patterns across the top of my feet. It's just me; there are stunning sock patterns all the way down to the toe decreases, but if I'm knitting it, the pattern stops when I start the heel.
Maybe if I can whip up a simple shawl, it'll take the edge off? Seriously, who am I kidding?
The Thing is Now Legal...
Well, not like I was NOT legal, but this past weekend, I did an assistant teaching gig with my teacher, Linda, and I officially picked up my 500-hour certificate. So now, I'm good to go. I actually got confirmation a few weeks ago, so technically, I was "legally" a 500-hour teacher. And now, I've got the paper to prove it.
I'm glad it's done. That, with the Prenatal Yoga certification, means I'm good for a while. I do have enough CEUs for a couple years!
As yoga teachers, it's up to us to keep up with continuing education. Things change. When I first trained, in 2014, one of the cues for Trikonasana (Triangle) pose was "as you move your spine over your front leg, imagine your body pressed between two panes of glass." Well, first off, that's a horrible cue. Second, that actually takes your sacrum (lowest part of your spine) and jams it in bewteen the pelvic bones.
AND - it assumes that every body is the same. That nobody has any issues in their spines, that everyone moves the same way. That all students look like cookie-cutter figures. Which is patently untrue, and it has been untrue for many years.
After some years of studying biomechanics and the history of yoga-related injuries, we now know that you should let the top hip "roll over" a bit - so that your lower spine can move a bit... THAT is why you continue to train. You don't have to go nuts, but attending at least one workshop a year isn't a bad idea and it doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars. You can attend some great workshops for under $100, most of the time.
And now that I'm 500-hour certified, I can actually teach workshops to other teachers. That's pretty cool!
Every morning, Raisa greets me with her giant Kong bone. Usually by chucking it at me. Thankfully, she waits till I'm out of bed - when I'm in my chair, that's her cue.
She thinks it's fun to tug and for me to toss it to her. She'll either catch it in mid-air, or I can sneak it past her and she's got to go find it.
This is an endurance test for her and a reflex test for me: am I awake enough to not get smacked in the noggin with a slimy rubber bone? Most mornings, I'm actually good. Surprising, isn't it?
She's quite an efficient "pitcher" and has only missed a couple of times. This picture was the result of one of her throws.
Yes. Right on the arm of my chair. She's pretty cautious about going after the bone if it's near Hubby's orchids, near the TV, or near any of my stuff, so I'll give her credit. And this was right next to my arm. She waited patiently for me to take the shot and then I tossed it back at her.
It's those little routines every morning that start your day out the right way...
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