Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Don't get saucey with me, Bearnaise.

No Bearnaise sauce here. This is the first batch of tomato sauce this season. I trimmed up the tomatoes that had ripened, added a bunch of salt and several bay leaves (also from the garden), and boiled it down. This is pretty much the biggest pot we've got, and it was completely filled when I turned the heat on. Once the sauce is reduced and cooled, I'll run it all through the food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Then it will go into freezer containers.

The tomatoes, yellow and red, have started to reduce. The pot holds 11.4 liters (12 US quarts).

There are so many more tomatoes out in the garden that are not quite ripe. As they ripen, we'll eat some, but most will go into sauce. Some of the sauce will be further reduced and made into tomato paste. We like to use the sauce through the fall and winter months. It's some kinda good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Burs in the fur

It's bur season, and Tasha picks up a lot of them. The burs in this photo are the most common, but they come in all shapes and sizes. She often comes back from a walk with a twig or a branch of thorny blackberry or wild rose stuck in her tail. Thankfully, she's not afraid of the brush and comb I use to get the burs out. Sometimes she thinks it's a game. But she doesn't always like me tugging at her fur.

I've already forgotten if the flowers on these plants were yellow or white.

We're moving into another warm spell. My plan for the day is to pick a bucketful of tomatoes, trim them up, and make a batch of sauce for the freezer. Many of the toms got sunburned in our recent heat wave, but they're still good for sauce once I cut the burned part off.

Monday, August 13, 2018


The grapes out in the vineyard are getting riper every day. It's most obvious with the red grapes, but the white ones are also ripening, going from green to more of a golden yellow. I have no idea when harvesting will start, but I'll bet it will be a little sooner than normal, given the hot summer we're having.

I'm not good at identifying varietals. This is either cabernet franc, côt (malbec), or gamay.

In other seasonal news, I read that the hunting season for game birds (pheasant and partridge) opens on September 23 in our area. Wild hares can be hunted starting October 14. Organized hunts for deer, foxes, and wild boar were authorized starting back in June, but I haven't seen one happen in our area so far this season. It won't be long.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Carrots gone wild

There's not much more to say about wild carrot, known as Queen Anne's Lace in North America. Just that this has been a very good year for it and other umbels out in the fields and vineyards of our region.

The underside of a wild carrot flower.

I'm still pulling zucchini out of the garden. I found a couple big ones hidden under the plants on Saturday. They were too big to deal with, so they went right into the compost pile. Ken made some more zucchini "hummus" a day or so ago, and yesterday he made a shrimp and noodle stir-fry with zucchini, corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and some of our tomatoes. It was delicious. Today we'll be making a big batch of ratatouille for the freezer, using more zukes and tomatoes from the garden along with some eggplant from the supermarket.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

It's still summer

Now that our major heat wave has ended and we're feeling some more normal temperatures, I catch myself thinking about fall. Too soon, I know. Summer still has more than month to go. But chilly mornings and shortening days foreshadow what we all know is coming.

The wild carrot flowers remind me that it's still summer, but it does look kind of like a snowflake...

I look at all the leaves on the trees and imagine them turning shades of yellow and orange, then falling to the ground. The vineyards are quiet right now, but it won't be long before the harvesters are humming out there. We're already getting the "back to school" advertising flyers from the local stores. It's time to order firewood and fill up the heating oil tank. We need to remember to take advantage of the good days we're having (like this nice warm weekend) because autumn is closer than it seems.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Let's call the whole thing off

ToMAYto? ToMAHto? However you say it, we got it. Them. Those. Deez. Doze.

The yellow tomatoes are really coming in right now.

Now we have to figure out what to do with them. We're eating some every day, but we can't eat enough, so it's our annual sauce 'em, dry 'em, stick 'em-in-a-stew time.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Happens every year

There is a certain point every year when I lose control of the vegetable garden. Sometimes it happens because of rain. Rainy weather prevents me from dealing with weeds, and the rain makes them grow even faster. This year, I think, it was the heat sucking the motivation out of me. And the weeds grew. And now I've lost control.

My well-ordered garden always becomes a messy patch of weeds toward the end of the season.

I was able, over two days last week, to get out there and prune the tomatoes by removing the big lower leaves and, in the process, pull some of the weeds that grow up around the plants. It's important to keep air flowing around the tomatoes to reduce humidity and the possibility of mildiou (tomato blight). I don't think anything can kill the zucchini.