Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Do you know how long it takes to skin and seed 30 lbs of tomatoes? I didn't, until I did it a few days ago to can some homemade tomato sauce for the winter. Let me just say that it took a LOT longer than I had anticipated. Of course, I kept getting distracted by the kids. But I am reconsidering my idea of planting a bunch of tomato plants next spring...

Here's a recipe for Tomato Sauce that I got from the book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" written by Barbara Kingsolver. I've modified it slightly for my own use, but the original recipe on the book is as follows:

30 lbs tomatoes, pureed
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. ground dried lemon peel
2 tbsp. thyme
2 tbsp. garlic powder (or more, to taste)
2 tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Soften onions in a heavy 3-gallon kettle - add a small amount of water if necessary but no oil if you are canning (very important!). Add pureed tomatoes and all seasonings, bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours until sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning. Meanwhile, heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water, and pour boiling water over jar lids.

Bottled lemon juice or citric acid - NOT optional!

Add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. citric acid to each quart jar (1/2 that much to pint jars). This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic. When the sauce is ready, ladle it into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cap jars, lower gently into canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, label, and store for winter.

When I made this, I had enough for 4 500 ml jars and 23 250 ml jars, plus enough sauce to go with the roasted garlic ravioli we had for supper the next night :)


Friday, November 6, 2009

Tray-Baked Lamb Chops

Oh, yummm! I just finished eating a very yummy supper. The recipe comes from the book "The Gorgeously Green Diet". I used lamb chops from East Coast Family Market (at the Enfield Farmers Market on Saturdays), and I helped myself to extra when I was finished my 1st serving :)

Tray-Baked Lamb Chops

1 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 lamp chops (shoulder or leg chops work well) (I used 3 chops, as there were 3 of us eating)
4 medium carrots, sliced lengthwise
3 medium parsnips, sliced lengthwise

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow bowl. Place the chops in the bowl and massage with the oil mixture. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Put the chops with the marinade on a large baking sheet and add the carrots and parsnips, coating the vegetables with the marinade. Put in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Serves 2.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One of my Contributions

I've been doing lots of reading over the last couple of years about organics and environmentally-friendly, sustainable lifestyles. I think that we, as in the general human race, are doing a great disservice to the planet we call home.

We pollute the soil with loads of chemicals, just so we can get that "perfect" tomato (that looks nice but has next to no taste). We pollute the air with fossil-fuel burning power plants so we can run the electronics that make our lives so much "easier".We pollute the waters with garbage and oil.

I want to do as much as I can to help stop this. Once in a while I slip up and throw something in the garbage that could be recycled, or fall asleep with the tv on, but I make a conscious effort to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum.

One new way to help is by formulating a line of soaps made with organic oils. I'm in the process of doing this now :) I will hopefully be introducing a line of organic soaps in the new year. All of the vegetable oils I'll be using are certified organic - canola, coconut, flax, hemp, shea butter, and sunflower. Most of the essential oils I'll be using are certified organic, with a few that are organically grown and processed, but not certified. I do this not because I think it's better for the skin - let's face it, soap is a rinse off product and it doesn't stay on your skin long enough for any residual chemicals that may be present in a non-organic ingredient to be of concern. I do this for the planet - by using certified organic ingredients, I know that there have been no chemical fertilizers or pesticides used in the growing or processing. By taking this step to help the planet, I'm also helping future generations who will be relying on Earth for food, clothing and shelter.

This is where you come in :) I need testers for my new soap, as I'm using a few ingredients that I don't use in my existing soap line. Right now, most of my soaps are made with olive, palm, coconut and avocado oils with shea butter, which I've had wonderful reviews for. And I need to hear some honest feedback on what people think of my new soap. How it feels like to use, what they think of the lather, how it makes their skin feel, etc. I have a batch of organic unscented soap curing now, and when it's ready for use I'd like to send some sample bars to you for testing. If you're interested, please let me know (if you reply to this post, please make sure I know how to contact you). I will gather (privately) your address so I can ship it out next month when it's ready.

Thanks so much!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Heart Hats

I really really do love to wear hats.

I discovered hats at a thrift shop while still in high school, and fell in love with this gorgeous, chocolate brown fedora. I used to wear that thing almost every time I went out!

I stopped wearing hats for a few years, but rediscovered them again about 5-6 years ago while I was participating in a local craft show. The neighbouring booth was run by a lady who made winter hats under the business name The Mad Hatter. I bought a lovely burgundy winter hat that was like a soft faux-suede outer and warm, snuggly faux-fur on the inside. The following year I bought 2 more hats from her, one was a lovely coffee with milk shade of brown outside with thick, warm faux-fur on the inside and the second one was a funky grey mix faux-fur that was almost shaped like a top-hat. I wore that thing to lots of my daughter's skating practices and it kept my head (and me) toasty warm :) This is a good thing, as it doesn't take much to make me uncomfortably cold.

I also have a crocheted summer hat that I purchased from Loopy4Ewe that I usually wear to the farmers market in the summer if I'm outside. My daughter also has a cool beanie from her. Just look at this cool hat:
Last spring, I discovered a very cool hatter in Lunenburg, NS - Anna Shoub. She's originally from the US, but found her way to our beautiful province. I want soooo many of her summer hats. Especially now that I have funky retro sunglasses in the style similar to Jackie O's. So I'm really coveting these couple of hats:But she also has stylish winter hats available.

Please check out these ladies' shops - they have lots of wonderful goodies to choose from! Support handmade, support local :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Organic Trade Association

Organic has become such a catch phrase. There are some companies that market their products as made with organic ingredients, however unless they are certified organic they might only have a small percentage of organic ingredients.

And for a manufacturer to become certified, there are a lot of hoops that they have to jump through and red-tape that needs to be dealt with. And it's very expensive.

Not that I think it's not worth it. I think that our Earth needs us to grow our crops and raise our animals as organically as possible. There are too many chemicals used by too many large "corporate" farms as fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals are collecting in our soils and water systems, negatively effecting our animals, plants, and our families.

More and more consumers are searching out organic food and products, which is great! The more demand there is for organic the more there will be available, and at better prices.

For some more great information on organics, please check out the website for Organic Trade Association. They have lots great information.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Personalized Jewellery

My daughter has been making jewellery for a couple of years now. She's made mainly earrings and necklaces in the past, and had sold a few pieces here and there. When I started selling at our local farmers market at the Enfield Legion, I told her that I would take her jewellery and display it on my table for her. She was thrilled, and most weeks came with me to the market to help out.

However, there has always been a couple other vendors there with jewellery, so her sales were minimal. I thought about what she could do that would be different then what the other jewellers offered, and made a couple of suggestions. She decided to go with personalized necklaces and bracelets. So she takes memory wire and strings it with mainly glass beads on either side of the requested name. These have just taken off for her! She's very excited to be making these and has almost saved up for her goal - a Wii. She's had a lot of custom orders, and tries to make sure she has some popular names made up in advance.

Memory wire is a special wire made from steel that retains it's round shape and does not require a fastener or clasp. The majority of her pieces are made using glass beads, but she can also use other beads made from wood, ceramic, and semi-precious gemstones. The basic bracelet costs $3, while the basic necklace costs $8. If she uses beads made from materials other than glass, the cost is usually higher.

She made some necklaces in a Hallowe'en theme, and still has a few available. She's usually with me at the farmers market if you'd like to come down and take a look. You can also contact me if you'd like to order a personalized item with your favourite colours :)

Here are a few photos of what she has available right now:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Long 5 Months, and Some New Soapies

I think I'm finally able to get back on the blog and start posting again. It was a long summer, and I tried to spend as much time with my family as I could.

But I'm back, and I have 3 new soapies to share with you :) They are all available now at the Enfield/Elmsdale Farmers Market on Saturdays 8-1 at the Enfield Legion. They are also available online at my Etsy shop

We have Cinnamon Leaf, with my regular soaping oils of olive, palm, coconut, avocado and shea butter, scented with straight cinnamon leaf essential oil. I wouldn't use this if you have sensitive skin, but it should be fine for everybody else :)
We also have our Black Licorice soap, scented with star anise essential oil, and swirled with black oxide and red clay. And yes, it smells just like black licorice, or the licorice allsorts :)

And we have Almond Jubilation - smells just like cherry almond :) It's coloured with a touch of red clay.