Saturday, July 4, 2015

How to make a gathering apron

Every day in the garden is like a treasure hunt, and I usually come in the house with more treasures than I expected. To help with the burgeoning harvest, I came up with this gathering apron that burgeons right along with the veggies. It ties around the waist and hangs down to about mid-thigh.

My gathering apron is 21 inches across, with 23-inch ties. The pouch itself is 8 inches deep, with a 5-inch back piece so the harvest doesn't tip over forward.

This is the back of the gathering apron. I'm sorry
this is not an actual pattern, but if you're somewhat
experienced at sewing, you'll be able to piece it
together. Sorry to be so bohemian. Drives people crazy.

As you add ribbon and seams to the apron, you will naturally be strengthening it. Be sure to use a heavy-duty needle and sew an "X" inside a square where the seams and ribbon come together.

If you zoom in I think you'll understand what I mean about reinforcing as you go.

Happy harvesting! I hope this fuzzy tutorial
will inspire you to make your own version.

Supplies (all from Hobby Lobby)
Heavy canvas-like material
(the color is actually called Garden Soil)
Cute 1-inch-wide ribbon
Cute 1.5-inch wide ribbon
Brown thread
Heavy-duty needle
Oh, sewing machine

Let me know how it goes! Leave a comment below.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Follow-up: Freezing whole tomatoes

A while back, I blogged about whether unblanched tomatoes would do well frozen. Well, now I know: They're easy and great! Plus I saved a lot of time and effort before freezing them.
I just ran water over the tomatoes and since they were frozen and my tap water was warmer, the skins just slid right off. Then I ran them under water again in order to get my fingers into the spaces and clean out the juice and seeds, resulting in thicker sauce.

After plopping the tomatoes into the cooked meaty spaghetti sauce, I broke them up a little with my wooden spoon and cooked the mixture 10 or 15 minutes more. Really good. I highly recommend this method!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lantana vs. Mexican petunia

My summer garden is in full bloom, and two of my favorites are lantana and Mexican petunia. They're both on my list of Plants That Take Over the World, and they're trying to edge each other out. I'm pretty sure the lantana will win. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to make great tomato juice

If you have a whole lot of tomatoes on your countertop, like I did, why not try making tomato juice? It's even better than V8 juice, though it's more like a V3. This recipe is for freezing. I don't know how to can. For some reason, this tomato juice tastes better when it's a little warm. But keep it in the fridge or freezer.
You will be using 3 pounds of really ripe tomatoes -- those are the juiciest. But not over-ripe. I got a good recipe from the internet then made adjustments. Does that mean it's my recipe now?
Tomato juice recipe
3 pounds very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (you don't need to core or skin the tomatoes)
1.25 cups chopped celery with leaves
1.25 cups chopped carrots
1/3 cup onion
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in a large, non-aluminum stock pot. You don't need to add any water. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until mixture has become soupy, at least 30 minutes. I used a potato masher toward the end just for the satisfaction of squishing soggy vegetables. Once all the tomatoes are as soupy as they're going to be, force the mixture through a food mill (you could use a sieve but that's a lot more work). Don't forget to put a bowl underneath the food mill. Put the mixture through progressively smaller-holed discs in the food mill until it's a nice tomato juice. Pour into jars, drink some, make your spouse sample some, put some in the fridge for tomorrow and the rest in the freezer. Makes about 6 cups of juice.
To your rough-chopped tomatoes, add your celery, onion and carrots.
Once the veggies are communing nicely with the tomatoes, add your fresh basil. I think basil makes the tomato juice.
Let the mixture cook down until it is very soupy. Your luscious tomato juice is ready to be filtered through the food mill.
This is the food mill after I forced the veggies through the large-holed disc and before I changed it out to the middle-holed disc.

Place the food mill over a large enough bowl and carefully pour the mixture into the food mill. You will turn the mill handle to press the juice out of your ingredients and into the bowl. The food mill has three discs. Start with the large-holed disc, then pour the juice back through the middle-holed disc, then pour it back through the small-holed disc twice. This gives you a nice, smooth tomato juice. For catching the juice, you can alternate between the bowl (as seen above) and the stock pot, if you can decipher what I mean.
Since I was freezing the tomato juice, I could use any jars that were clean and undamaged. If I were actually canning, that would be a different story, and I would refer you to a canning cook book.

Do you have a different way to make tomato juice? Leave me a comment below!