Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spaghetti Sauce - Canning

The strained sauce cooks for several more hours. As the water content evaporates, the remaining sauce thickens, and the time boiled is a matter of personal preference. We usually cook for three or four more hours before filling the canning jars.

The filled jars are capped and placed in a boiling water cooker for 20 minutes of treatment. The process insures a tight seal and preserves the sauce for several years, if desired.

We canned 30 quarts of sauce in this venture. There are questions as to the need or desireability of making another batch this year -- to be determined....

Suki, the inspector, looks over the clean-up process. She was hoping this pail held something of interest to cats.... No such luck this time, but her ever hopeful searching is one of her most endearing qualities!

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spaghetti Sauce - Cooking

The first step in cooking is the creation of enough liquid to safely turn on the heat under the kettle. Here Bill squeezes the first several dozen tomato halves to start the process. As this is unskilled labor and he has 30+ years of experience, he passes muster at this task.

The vegetables are cooked for several hours. As the mixture cooks down, more tomatoes are added so we can fill as many jars as possible.

The cooked material is poured through the strainer, which separates the sauce into another cooking pan and sends the residue (skins, seeds, etc.) into appropriate disposal pans. As this is a messy job, we always move outdoors for the process. It was a beautiful summer day for the job this year!

Inspector Suki appears to check out the contents of the box. She never misses a chance to observe whatever the humans are doing. She reported that there appeared to be no serious problems in this part of the job.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Spaghetti Sauce - Veggies

The annual production of sauce turns into a two-day event. The first step is assembling the ingredients, and here our garden yields tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Despite the dry summer, we are pleased with the quality of the produce.

The tomatoes are washed, topped, and halved. We used several pecks in filling our two big cooking kettles. We used mostly the Roma variety for the sauce.

The hot peppers are halved and washed prior to removing the seeds, which are not added to the mixture. We don't like a spicy sauce, so we use this additive carefully.

Our wonderful garden bell peppers are cleaned and cut into smaller pieces. We also added celery, onions, and garlic before cooking.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Studio warming

Better than Christmas! Pat Berardi presented this wonderful holder for rulers. The wooden construction includes maple, bloodwood, walnut, and an unnamed brown wood.

The New Energy general contractor delivered a basket of gifts from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters of Victor, NY. ( Tad worked on a couple of projects today and will return to complete a diminishing "punch list."

This wonderful handwoven silk shawl is a present from Priscilla Kibbee, who brought it from Laos. These are constructed by women who weave while sitting outside under the covering of their porches. Our piece graces the wall in the entrance foyer between the original house and the new studio.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Show & Tell - Part 2

Barb helps pin Carol Altemus's quilt that she made for the Quilts of Valor project.

Deb Roach showed us some of the pieces she completed in Elin Nobel's shibori workshop at Quilting by the Lake.

Carol Taylor shared her latest quilt with us, "Tip Toe through the Tulips."

Here's a detail picture of Carol's quilt showing her wonderful embellishments.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Show & Tell Group

The studio begins to host visitors and nears production capability. It was the meeting place for the August meeting of the group of quilters who call themselves the Show and Tell Quilters.

Each member shows anything new they have been working on and/or tells of related accomplishments.

Liz Cocuzzi shows us her wonderful new piece, which has lots of possibilities for more pieces.

Barb Seils had done lots of fabric dyeing in preparation for an upcoming Nancy Crow workshop.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Canning Peaches

Marcia quarters, removes the pit, and fills the canning jars, as the preparation for canning reaches the most important phase. The peaches are of very good quality and are blanched in hot water to loosen the skin before this step.

In a semi-skiled job, Bill pours syrup (sugar water) over the filled jars prior to placing the lid and ring on the top. After 30+ years of experience, he has mostly mastered this job.

After 30 minutes of boiling, the jars are ready for cooling and are lifted with appropriate forceps. We wait until the tops seal before declaring this part of the process completed. Sometimes the tops must be replaced and cooked again.

The contents continue to cool on racks. All the jars in this group sealed and are ready for cleaning the jar's exterior and storing until usage. We will probably can about 35 - 40 of these jars for fall and winter consumption.
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Friday, August 17, 2007

Getting the Peaches

Here we are at Morgan Farms, where we stop each year to buy peaches. We used to grow some ourselves, but we are on the fringe of the growing area as we near the outer allowable mileage from Lake Ontario. The requirements of timely spraying and providing adequate moisture also caused us to abandon the effort.

Our bushel and a peck of red haven peaches are ready. We are always pleased with the quality of the produce from Morgan Farms. They are a large grower about 12 miles north of us. We will return for another bushel in the next couple of weeks.

Inspector Suki is checking each peach as they are placed on a table in Marcia's old studio to ripen. She reports satisfaction with our purchase.

In this pose Suki has assumed her role of guard as she prepares to defend our acquisition against all threats. Some place in her outside ventures, she incurred a cut and a bruise which became infected and required another trip to the vet and a course of antibiotics. She is fearless and incorrigible, and as her parents, we must learn to live with her wandering ways. It is not easy!
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Thursday, August 16, 2007


Gardener extraordinaire, Karen Johnson, uses her good eye and long experience to shape the shrubery on our property. She has worked for us in the past and returned this year to visit on a monthly basis to take care of our several acres of gardens. We are impressed by her skills.

Karen brought her brand new friend, Boomer, with her. He is a three-year old chow-rotwieller mix, and she adopted him from an animal rescue center in Waterloo. He has only been with her for a couple of days and is still trying to figure things out. Welcome Boomer!

The hydra-seeding completes the south side reclamation. We have tried to keep the new planting watered, and some green seedlings are starting to appear.

The north side of the new structure has also been reseeded. The construction driveway went through this part of the lawn and extensive renewal was accomplished. It has been so dry that the new grass may require extra seeding in the fall. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sweet Corn Day

Our sweet corn crop presents a mid-season picking. We grow a super-sweet variety that needs warm soil for germination. This was a good year for the start, but the real drought has hampered development. A few ripe tomatoes add to a nice picture as the shucking process begins.

The corn cools after blanching. We use both sides of the sink with cold water soaks from our 200-foot deep well. The water is real cold and does a good job of getting the corn ready for cutting.

Each individual ear gets stripped with a sharp knife. As this is unskilled labor, Bill has gotten pretty good at it after 30+ years of practice!

The last part of the process is to package the kernels in freezer bags and boxes. Marcia handles this part of the task, and we filled 32 pint boxes with our day's efforts. The horses gratefully take care of the shucks and the stripped corn cobs. The whole process from field to freezer was completed in 4 1/2 hours, and this helps insure excellent taste as the fall and winter progress.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

High School Friends

Good friends from high school are visiting. On Marcia's left is Mary Ann Colacino Cocola from Geneva. And on her left is Marcia Bennett Thomsen, also known as "Beanie", who was living in Montana and is now from Arizona.
Beanie and her husband, Lyle, stayed with us for a couple of days.

Beanie and Mary Ann are artists, and Mary Ann is also a quilter. So naturally, we had to look at quilts. Marcia is holding a quilt top made from the Yikes pattern, and the quilt on the table is a Puzzle Quilt.

We pinned Mary Ann's latest quilt top on the wall to admire it. She made it from batik scraps left from other quilts she made for her two sons. She says she mixed the light and dark fabrics, and added a great striped fabric for the inner border that will also be used for the binding. We think it's terrific!