Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You Say Tomato...

I say I have too many tomatoes!

Last week I went to my local farmer's market and bought this huge box of plum and heirloom tomatoes:

At $12 a box, this was a bargain. Especially since I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, which did not involved eating them all before they went bad. I decided to make and freeze tomato sauce!

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I figured it would take me an hour or two to get everything done. Nope. It took the better part of a day. 8 hours over two days when all was said and done.

First, I washed the tomatoes.

Then I cut off the bad parts and stuck the good parts of the tomatoes in the food processor. This took what seemed like forever, and my hands, feet, arms, and floor were covered in tomato juice.

After blending all the tomatoes, the next step was to cook the sauce for about an hour on the stove.

I had so much sauce that I couldn't do it all in one pot! In addition to the batch on the stove, I had these two containers full of blended tomatoes: 

It also didn't take an hour to cook the sauce. It took two! I wanted to get the sauce to a sort-of thick consistency, which I don't think I really achieved in the end, but oh well.

After the first batch was cooked I had no idea what to do with it, since I needed the pot to continue cooking the second batch. My solution was to pull out my canning pot and pour the cooked sauce into it to cool. Then I put the second batch on and cooked that for two hours. I let it cool, then poured it into the canning pot along with the first batch.

I stuck the canning pot into the fridge over night and the next morning I bagged the sauce and placed the bags in the freezer. Now I have 8 bags (quart size) of tomato sauce in the freezer, plus one mason jar-full in the fridge!

That is a lot of tomato sauce! It took me from 3 pm - 9 pm on a Saturday to do all of this. The most time-consuming part was cutting out the rotten parts of the tomatoes, slicing, and processing. The cooking part wasn't so bad. I let the sauce simmer and went about doing other things around the apartment.

I'm not sure if I would do this again. But I really won't have to, because I'll have tomato sauce for what seems like eternity!

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary..."

My garden is growing!

Last weekend I picked up some sage and rosemary to add to my window garden:

Sage and Rosemary in the pots.

I love that I have fresh herbs available to me all the time! Hopefully, these new ones survive as well as my lemon balm and lemon thyme have. Crossing fingers!

Anyone have great recipes using sage and rosemary? I'm always looking for new suggestions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Update: Kitchen Garden

I've been meaning to write a post about this for about a month! I finally bought some plants for my kitchen garden back in June and I can say this endeavor has been a success so far!

You might remember that I intended to do an Ikea run and get some pots and hooks from the Fintorp series:

And you also might remember that I wanted to do something like this:
Via Pinterest

Well folks, I did it! I only have two plants in the window right now. But hey, they aren't dead, so this is already a success!

On the left is lemon balm and on the right is lemon thyme. The lemon balm is delicious in water and the lemon thyme has been a wonderful addition to various dishes I've made. I'm hoping to get a few more plants before the summer is over. Maybe some basil or oregano? Yum!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Products: Laundry Detergent

As I've mentioned several times, I've been replacing some store-bought items with homemade versions. My latest homemade product attempt is laundry detergent. I followed a recipe from the blog Steph Makes Stuff almost exactly. Her recipe calls for Downy Unstoppables, but I didn't see the point in adding those in, so I skipped that ingredient. Here are the ingredients that I used:

2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 bars fels naptha soap
Drops of essential oil (optional)

The whole thing took me about 15 minutes to put together, and that was because I had to grate the two bars of soap. I followed Steph's instructions to only use two teaspoons, and after my first load of laundry, that amount seemed to do the trick. I might add a tiny bit more, but no more than a few tablespoons at the most. This laundry detergent packs a big punch in small quantities!

I have also made hair gel recently, which has turned out well. That will likely be my next "homemade product" update, and perhaps another foray into homemade shampoo and conditioner eventually. The first one I tried made my hair very greasy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Room for Wine

I would love my very own wine cellar. But since I don't even have a basement, I take what I can get! The "what I can get" is a small wine rack on my kitchen buffet. I haven't been making full use of it, though. As you can see, the wine rack houses one bottle plus lots of other stuff:

A few weeks ago I saw this photo from Apartment Therapy, which was the first time I encountered a photo of my exact buffet!
Via Apartment Therapy
I inherited the buffet from someone when they moved out of an apartment, so I still have no idea where it came from. I knew you could adjust the shelves, but I was too scared to do it myself. Until I saw this picture and became majorly motivated to use the wine rack in all its glory.

It really was easy. I thought I'd have to take the whole thing apart, which was not appealing. Before I started, though, I consulted my dad, the master carpenter and Solver of All Building-Related Problems. He said I could just hammer the shelves loose, move the friction-fit pieces that hold the shelves in place, and then hammer the shelves into their new settings. That's exactly what I did. Moving the shelves took all of five minutes. Cleaning them took much longer, so the project turned out to take about an hour. Check out my full wine rack now! The sun was quite bright when I took this picture - I'll have to get a better shot some other time.

It might seem like a tiny project, but I'm very proud of myself. And happy that now I can display my lovely wines in their proper place!