Fun with squirrels

Maybe fun isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for.

They, the squirrels, seem to prefer the Indian tomatoes, the seeds for which the mother of the Royal Indian Mounted Police sent from India. I don’t exactly know why they prefer them and for what. They do not actually eat them. They pull them off and maybe take a bite and then discard them. Possibly they are playing a game with them.

I took out my raspberry bushes, too much work for so little benefit (not unlike many things in my garden but I’ll get too them sooner or later) and I put the canes around the base of the tomatoes like I did with the peach tree which, yes, did not stop them from eating every single one of the peaches but the squirrels could get to the peaches by many different means so I’m giving the raspberries another go. I’m hoping they’ll skip my yard because they’ll think uh oh, way too prickly. And there are the raspberry canes as well.

Canning Tomatoes: The Movie

Just when you thought it was all over and you wouldn’t have to read about it anymore…another batch of tomatoes. I’d run out of jars but Carol came through with a boatload of them and I was able to put away another couple of quarts. I had a hard time not drinking it all. 

So now I’m set for my fall and winter tomato sauce meals. I can hardly wait.

Canning; Episode 4, The Exciting Season Finale, possibly

Any further tomato canning will be treated as an epilogue, FYI. I think I do have enough other tomatoes to finish up a batch but I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to actually do any more of this. And I don’t have any more jars.

These lumpy ones are not really great eating tomatoes. They’re very mealy. They’re some heritage breed, like Hobo Joe or something. So probably I will can them too. I can’t just let them go to waste. I’ve invested too much of my summer/life/time in them.


Canning, episode 2

It looks like a lot of work for 2 (large) jars of sauce but really it isn’t. It is messy though, I’ll give you that. But it wasn’t hot out so I didn’t mind the processing, as we canners call the boiling of the jars. This sauce is very nice but it is a little too sweet. (I added no sugar)

When I am boiling the tomatoes the smell is very evocative. It smells like fall and winter food. My favorite. And it reminds me of old times. No particular ones. Just days gone by. 

The tomatoes are dying out. I’m imaging only one more episode of canning. Sort of like the panicky feeling when Downton Abbey ended.

Mary K’s birthday

is today, June 17th and she is in Milwaukee taking care of her granddaughter. Clara, her granddaughter, is usually at my house on Sunday nights with her parents. This weekend however, her parents are in New York and my sister Mary K and her husband Peter have bravely stepped up to the plate to babysit for the weekend. Which is to say coming to Milwaukee from Madison and staying in their son’s house with their granddaughter.

There are so many frightening issues in this concept. I mean, really, (remind me to discuss particles some time. Particles of speech, not particles in solution or some such thing. The word “really” here is a particle I discovered this week) anyway, to me, taking care of someone else’s 9 month old baby, even if it is your own grandchild, in not-your-own-house sounds almost unbearably daunting. And so I am taking dinner to them. A birthday dinner complete with Florence’s orange cake.

I’m making a savory tomato pie (among other things). It is a recipe from Fine Cooking. You can seethe recipe here. I realize am not good with recipes. Particularly complicated ones, I mean, I like a good culinary challenge, but not ones I have to read a lot of steps and procedures, and comprehend them. But this really sounded good; cheese, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, mustard in a pie configuration, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

At this point the pie has been completed and my kitchen is cleaned (horrified face emoji) but before that here was making, chilling (twice) and rolling out the pie crust, roasting the tomatoes, caramelizing the onions, making the cheese/cream filler stuff. And the recipe doesn’t really address the issue of liquid. You roast tomatoes, you get liquid. A lot of it. The recipe just says put the crap in. I’m no baker but I think that’s gonna make a really wet filling. And when I say wet I mean it could have its own gravitational tide. And then there is the issue of the tomato skins. Roma tomatoes have thick skins and just plopping them into the pie without removing the skins puts me in mind of those tough things in the center of apples that I hate so much (they are called endocarps but I doubt anyone would know what I meant if I wrote that). And once the tomatoes are cooked it’s easy to slip the skins off, so I did.

The tomatoes are layered with cheese and some sort of cream, parmesan cheese and mayonnaise slop, and baked in a two step process.

I can say that on the whole I’d rather babysit a 9 month old for a weekend than make that again.

Necessary evils

I don’t know how my mother (and all my forebears) did this. The freaking shit is ripe at the hottest time of the year and you have to can when it’s ready. Especially if you planned on eating later in the year. OK, it turns out that I can go to the store and get other food so I’m not actually all that dependent on preserved foods but I am not so many generations removed from people who really did rely, at least in some part, on the food they could put by.

It was 90 out when I was making tomato sauce. I have airconditioning and it was still hot. My mother did not. I don’t even recall that she had a fan. And she didn’t just can tomatoes there were also 2 kinds of pickles and beans. We scavenged choke cherries and wild raspberries and she made jelly. The kitchen was a steaming hell. She never complained. (This is one aspect in which I do not take after her.)

I really hate using a food mill. My mom must not have liked it either because she used to have me do this. Raspberries have a lot of seeds.

The few blessed weeks

Have come to an end. But it was lovely while it lasted. Recorded here for your viewing pleasure are some of my breakfasts. 

I was shocked at how much produce I managed to get even if I only planted in late June and early July. Enough for these, many dinners, salads, and 3 quarts of sauce.

The struggle continues

Squirrels have taken to eating tomatoes, something I didn’t realize they did. Fortunately there are enough of them, more than I can possibly eat, I find myself considering making sauce, not something I really care to do at the moment but I cannot eat them all and while the squirrels are working at it, they seem unequal to the task as well.

And while I may not get the last tomato, I got the last laugh (for now). The squirrel has figured out how to jump from one bird feeder to the other. There are 2 feeder poles, on the one I have thistle seed which the squirrels don’t care about, and as such I have not squirrel-proofed it. They climb up onto the top of it and have now figured out how to launch themselves onto the top of the other pole which has the the more delicious food items, nuts and seeds but squirrel-proofed with a barrier on the pole so they cannot climb it.

It was funny at first since they’d blast from one pole over to the other, fail to gain purchase and smack onto the ground. Eventually though he got the hang of it, stuck his landing on the other feeder and proceeded to gnaw his way into the feeder. So I moved it 5 feet away. He sits on the thistle seed pole and appears to wave at the nuts and seeds hanging alluringly on the other pole 8 feet away…I’m sure he’ll figure something out.