Easy peasy homemade tomato sauce (no peeling required)
Canning, Freezing & More Preserving, Recipes

Easy Peasy Homemade Tomato Sauce (No Peeling Required)

When I was new to gardening (and new to canning what came out of my garden), homemade tomato sauce was one of those projects that always felt a little intimidating. Every recipe I came across called for boiling a pot of water, blanching the tomatoes, plunging them into an ice bath, then making X-shaped slits in the bottom to release the skins. Some recipes went a step further, telling me to run the peeled tomatoes through a food mill to remove the seeds.

Frankly, it doesn’t sound all that bad… until the first time you’re faced with a sink full of tomatoes (especially smaller tomatoes) that need to be peeled, one by one. All that work, all that mess… I actually started to dread the peak-of-summer harvests when I had more tomatoes than I could use right away!

Continue Reading

How to safely freeze liquids in mason jars
Canning, Freezing & More Preserving, Recipes

How to Safely Freeze Liquids in Mason Jars

It’s that time of the year when our freezers are probably seeing a lot of action as tomato sauces, vegetable soups, and all kinds of seasonal bounties start making their way from the garden to the kitchen to — eventually — this winter’s dinner table. A severe lack of space in my own freezer means I’ve skipped my old standby of freezing whole cherry tomatoes in favor of tomato purees that are ready to spice up for homemade marinara sauce, soup, and ketchup.

And that brings up a question I’m often asked: What’s the most ideal way to store these liquids in the freezer?

Continue Reading

Mystery vegetables from volunteer plants
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. I haven’t been as vigilant with the garden as I usually am, which means loads of volunteer plants and lots of mystery vegetables that we’re starting to harvest. This week’s haul included butternut squash, mystery summer squash, mystery winter squash, and what I think is an overgrown mystery cucumber (but could possibly be a mystery melon). Such are the little joys the garden brings to the kitchen.

Continue Reading

The flock has grown! Meet the new girls
Backyard Chickens

The Flock Has Grown! Meet the New Girls

A few months ago, Will and I revisited with friends and farmers Megan and Jeremy, just a couple hours up the coast from us in the small town of Lompoc, California. Tucked in a canyon north of Santa Barbara, on 40 acres of old-growth forest, they run a humane poultry farm, organic farm stand, and local CSA operation called Dare 2 Dream Farms.

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while may remember this post from nearly six years ago, when I brought home my original flock of three feisty ladies.

After the devastating loss of our Barred Rock this past spring, we knew we needed to bring home some new companions for Iman, our Golden Laced Cochin (and the only remaining hen from that first flock). And we knew there was no other place we’d rather turn to than Dare 2 Dream for adding to our feathered family.

Plus, we hadn’t seen Megan and Jeremy since that initial visit and were excited to see how they — and the farm — had grown!

Continue Reading

Collecting calendula seeds and fresh eggs from the garden
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Collecting calendula seeds and fresh eggs from the garden. One of the new hens has started laying those beautiful brown eggs, but as I haven’t caught her in the act yet, I don’t know who it is!

Continue Reading

Gardening quick tip: eat those thinnings
Garden of Eatin', Seeds & Seedlings

Gardening Quick Tip: Eat Those Thinnings

Thinning your seedlings is a necessary evil.

On the one hand, thinning helps produce greater yields in the garden, since overcrowded seedlings compete for sun, nutrients, and moisture. When they lack adequate space to develop roots, they can become stunted and unproductive. They’re also more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases if there’s not enough air circulation between plants.

On the other hand, thinning can be tedious work if (like me) you tend to sprinkle your seeds pretty liberally in the soil and are faced with hundreds of seedlings to thin every season.

Continue Reading