food for thought

i think of this view in my garden as “tomato alley”. i can’t help but admire the plants for getting through the summer in such good shape; they are really holding their own against the usual suspects this year. as the end of the summer approaches, they continue to grow and produce lots, despite the awfully dry weather we’ve been having.

less than a month ago, before i left for knit nation, i took this photo from the second floor porch on a wet, rather gray morning.

i wanted to get an aerial view of the garden layout to remember for next year where i put everything (so as to rotate it sensibly next summer).

yesterday i took another, just to see how things have evolved over the last four weeks

wow, lots more dry and lots bigger. the angle of the sun is also different now; fall i approaching and the sun has moved to the right (or, well, the sun is where it always is, but we have moved to the left, i guess). sigh . . .

those very tall plants in the middle are okra—i can’t get over how big they get; some of them are as tall as i am now.

there’s not as much work to do out there as there was earlier in the summer; the weeds are very much under control, now that the plants are big enough to throw a lot of shade underneath. just a few to pull here and there.

i replanted a few new things to fill in spaces left by plants that are done—some squash plants and a new row of beets, which i planted in the space where the green beans didn’t germinate (again). i just wanted to see if the problem lay in the seeds or in the ground.

must’ve been the seeds. all the ones i bought from that company (okra, green beans, chard) were just so-so and required re-seeding; low germination from all of them. next time, i’ll stick with suppliers i’ve had better success with.

i did my last pruning a week ago and i don’t think i’ll need to do it again, unless those costolutos need one more haircut (very possible; they’ve been pretty high-maintenance).

i almost missed the entire blooming period of our gladiolas, which david planted for the first time this year. i noticed that we had them coming in before i left for london and by the time i returned there was just this one left (pout). these are an old-time favorite that reminds me of childhood; my mom planted them each year in her flower beds at home.

of course, less work to do out in the dirt does not mean we can sit back and put our feet up—there is plenty of garden-related work this time of the year.

every day or two i bring in a haul of stuff that requires washing, sorting, ripening, cooking, and processing, so that we have a full freezer by the time the frost hits (and many enjoyable meals of fresh food in between now and then).

on weekday mornings, i do the easiest of these chores, so that i can be at my desk at a reasonably early hour. i can do tomatoes three or four times a week by spending about 30-60 minutes on them before work. then on saturday, i take on the longer tasks, such as picking, cleaning, and blanching batches of greens for freezing, and cooking up dishes that will freeze well or ones that we can reheat during the week for dinner.

today was one of those days—i spent six hours in the kitchen, but i got a LOT done. one of those times when i turn off my planning brain and just do.

six bags of greens to add to the stockpile (i separate the leaves and stems for different uses). then i put on a big pot of tomatoes for puree and ended up with five containers to freeze

i think i have a total of 20 or so put away now; i’ll just need a few more. once i have what i need, i’ll focus on making roasted tomato paste. then, if the tomatoes are still coming in fast and furious, i’m thinking of making homemade ketchup. i’ve always wanted to try it and i think i have a recipe somewhere—we have a hard time finding a bottled variety we like, so i may as well make some and see if i can do better.

after the tomatoes were cooking, i put together some foods for our week and to store in the freezer for later in the fall.

remember beckie’s super-easy spinach pie we all went ga-ga over a couple of years back??
(if you weren’t with us then, you gotta check it out—BEST 5-minute recipe ever)

well, we hadn’t had it in a while and since we have all these greens, i thought it would be a good time to make it. i had a piecrust in the freezer and it just so happened that i found myself in the greek grocery yesterday, where i picked up some good imported feta. it was a no-brainer.

and then i thought i’d use up the pile of yellow stuffer tomatoes i had lying around. i don’t make stuffed tomatoes much (i can’t even remember the last time i did), but the idea appealed to me as something i could fix and freeze, then use a few at a time as a side dish. i just used orzo, cheeses, parsley, and chopped tomato, but any combination would work nicely. these might be the perfect thing with fish or with a few other vegetable dishes for a light supper.

by this time, it was 3 pm and i was sick of the kitchen—i like the feeling of having done all that, but i’m no martha stewart; i’m happy to get off my feet after a day of cooking to do something different. a bite to eat and a shower sounded awfully good.

there’s always time for knitting, too, right?? of course there is!
i finished my secret project completely now and i feel grandly optimistic about all the great new projects i’m now free to explore. heh. but i’m trying to be realistic . . .

i haven’t forgotten that i still have lots of edging rows to go on the rosebuddie blanket. and the heat was stifling again last night, so i didn’t make any headway on it. maybe tonight—after a steady evening rain, the air has cooled down nicely and hopefully the upper floors, where we watch TV are chilling a bit as well.

not that i wasted any time—i figured it was a good opportunity to get back to those mitts i started in london. i’m using the same motif i used for the bougainvillea socks, this time in a gorgeous deep lavender from dye dreams (sadly, no longer in business). i know it’s a color my niece will be crazy about.

i also finished the first sleeve of my vintage shirt last night and cast on right away the second sleeve.

i’m anxious to start the patterns front of the sweater, but i also know that it’s a good idea to sandwich that piece halfway through—there is a lot of stockinette in this garment and i know plain knitting doesn’t hold my attention as strongly. holding the patterned part back as a carrot for myself isn’t a bad idea.

david’s been busy too—he put an extra-big effort into my workroom this month while i was away and now it’s done. and it’s beautiful; i can’t believe it’s the same room.

he’s moved in the big furniture and is putting together my dad’s old desk (which he refinished for me a while back as a christmas gift). i can’t believe he carried it up the stairs by himself—it’s old and very heavy.

this is the part of my workroom where i’ll actually knit and work the most, so i’ve been very much looking forward to this day. comfortable seating, books, desk, and spinning wheels will all go in here. the storage and machinery area is in the small back room david finished in december.

when we tear up the living room for its makeover (very soon), i’ll have a cozy, quiet, out-of-the way place to knit and work. and finally, a permanent place to spin.
more photos when it’s all settled and we have some lovely daylight glow . . .

36 Responses to “food for thought”

  1. Cary says:

    Oh no, it must be time for me to go to bed…I just read this line “…it’s old and very heavy” as “…HE is old and very heavy”! LOL, I didn’t really think you would say that about your David ;)

    Must get a snack first, though, as all of your food photos have made me hungry (that and a full day of fiber and yarn shopping at Michigan Fiber Festival)!

  2. Kim says:

    Love all the pictures. . . . I especially like seeing David! Hi David!!!!

  3. Ruthie says:

    Alas, I didn’t do any gardening this year…and I’m glad I chose not to do tomatoes, especially. The heat has been abyssmal and the poor things would have roasted on the vine!

    I am anxious to see your fully completed workroom pictures. I bet you are so glad you chose to do that room first before beginning the livingroom. At least you will be able to preserve your sanity.

  4. Heather says:

    Wow, that is one amazing garden — thank you for continuing to share it with us (though I must say looking at all that food has made me hungry!). I love the purple yarn and can’t wait to see the mitts when finished. :-) And *wavies* Hello to David! Isn’t he a star? :-)

  5. The food, dear God, I may spend the day in my kitchen! Thanks a bunch! Your garden looks robust! I’m noticing that you don’t cage your tomatos – and they support themselves? Must be all of that careful pruning that you do.
    Your workroom makes me envious!

  6. Barbara-Kay says:

    The garden picture was a great idea! I’ve been told that tomatoes do best if planted in the same spot each year…an exception to the rule.

    Congratulations on your new room. Way to go, David!

  7. Anne Littlebird says:

    David is so amazing! I sure wish you could clone him…

    And the garden is so inspiring. One of these days perhaps I will have one again – right now I can’t quite get my landlord to let me take over the backyard. :)

  8. jill says:

    Like you, I spent yesterday in the kitchen. Sixteen containers of marinara now live in my freezer along with several bags of chopped onion and peppers. Today is pesto and chili freezing day! Your bounty is beautiful and your stories of freezing it for the fall are inspiring!

    So glad to see the room! I’ve been wondering how that project was coming along. David did such an amazing job – so much work. And he did the electrical? Wow! I know you will enjoy that bounty as well.

  9. Your tomato bounty is enviable! Love the yellow stuffers! You are a veritable food processor. All your hard work will pay great dividends on those cold winter days to come.

    And so great to have your workroom complete. What a gift to have David so motivated and talented! Looking forward to seeing it in use and filled with fibery projects!

  10. Laurie says:

    This was a completely inspiring post! From the garden (so tempted!, and the food you are making looks healthy/delicious) to the beautiful workspace you’ve cleared and rehabbed. Need to organize my life, clearly.

  11. Kay in Albuquerque says:

    As always, your garden and comments and food info are wonderful – I forget sometimes that you knit too! We need to remember the fresh tomatoes in January, don’t we? But wait… look in the freezer…

  12. Lisa says:

    I love reading about your garden! And WOW on your renovation projects! What a blessing it is to have a talented, handy, willing hubby!

  13. Beth says:

    Reading your posts always makes me feel like we’re neighbors and you’ve just caught me up on your day. (Hope that doesn’t sound silly!) My mom used to make ketchup. Let me know if you want me to try to find her recipe.

  14. Kali says:

    I am making ketchup for the first time myself today…go for it!

  15. Pooch says:

    Looks like nesting mode after all your travels. :) Your photos are beautiful, your food–delicious, and your plans– wonderful! Not to be forgotten is your lovely, lovely knitting. I wish I possessed a biy of your energy!!

    :)

  16. KateinIowa says:

    Ann, I’m a big fan of your patterns and love your blog. However, there is something going on with your Facebook/blog post. This post came through as 12 separate posts. When you’re using FB for lots of friends, these multiple posts take up a lot of space on my smartphone screen. Is there some way you could just post a link to your blog, instead of the entire blog?

    I do this by putting a one liner in my status and attaching the link for my blog with one of the little icons just below the status window. Just a suggestion!

    Thanks again for all that you do for the knitting community!

  17. Robin says:

    Wow Anne, I stand in awe of your garden, especially with all our hot, dry weather here in Ohio! Looks wonderful!

  18. Jocelyn says:

    Your workroom looks gorgeous! How wonderful to have a dedicated space — I bet it gets beautiful light during the day. Your garden is looking wonderful, too, I’m always so impressed by how much you manage to grow and put away :)

  19. imjustlori says:

    Oh, your room! I can’t wait to see how you use it.

    I’m losing much of my craft area to a small person’s need for play and toy containment area, but it’s great to see what others are doing. I’ll store away ideas for when I can reclaim my space.

  20. Michelle says:

    Two questions…How many freezers do you have? Very jealous!

    How long do you blanch your swiss chard. I have quite a crop coming in!

  21. Michelle says:

    I get so inspired to knit and garden after reading one of your posts!
    How do you cook your tomatoes for the tomato puree? I’ve planted only one Roma tomato plant but it’s going gangbusters for me- so far I’ve picked 42 tomatoes from it and it’s still loaded down. Frozen tomato puree sounds like just the ticket!

  22. Madeline says:

    Wonderful post all around. I can’t wait to see the finished workroom. Your husband is a gem!

  23. Ann says:

    Those stuffed tomatoes look delicious. I don’t think I can spend 6 hours in the kitchen.

  24. A lovely workspace! Is the pattern for the vintage shirt new or in the works?

  25. janna says:

    You’ve had a dry summer? It’s been really wet here in Iowa, but I know it’s been fairly dry where my mom lives in central Illinois.

    And gladiola! My grandma used to have them growing around her well. And I seem to remember there was a way of making “dolls” out of them, using a flower turned upside down for the dress….

  26. Terri says:

    This morning I took away two great things from your blog. #1 – I am totally making stuffed peppers or tomatoes tomorrow. #2 – The crochet blanket on the couch in your office reminded me that I have a crochet blanket from a great aunt in a box. It needs to come out and live on the big chair in my office.

  27. Laurie says:

    Lovely gladiola…we had some volunteers when we first moved into this house, but they died after a couple years. Thanks to your inspiration – stuffed peppers tonight! :-)

  28. shannon says:

    Just beautiful: the garden, the food, the knitting and the husband at work…. love it!

  29. Cathy says:

    I’m emailing you my friend Suvir’s recipe for spicy tomato chutney – a wonderful thing if you still have a glut after making ketchup!

  30. Tara says:

    I’m truly green with envy at that work room. Looking forward to some daytime glowy pictures :)

  31. Bobbie in AK says:

    The stuffed peppers look absolutely delicious! Pass along your recipe – do you flash freeze them? As always, your garden and knitting photographs are wonderful. Can’t wait to see the finished work room.

  32. jeri says:

    I love your garden, along with your knitting!! Yes, I have a couple of your patterns,too. But, this email is about the gardening. How or what do you do to keep eggplant. do you freeze it? whole or sliced or pre-prepared? I have never planted it because I only eat it fresh (and I love it) and so am afraid of being over run with eggplant.

  33. knitwick says:

    I’m glad to see the garden has been so bountiful this year! The food looks delicious.

    Your workroom also looks like it is coming along wonderfully. That couch looks like a wonderful place to curl up for some knitting with some nice music and good cup of coffee in the fall…

  34. Ellen Norman says:

    Oh me, oh my…I love the “hands” they are really unique as well as the knitting! I’m already packed and ready to move into your house!!! LOL Just kidding :) and your garden puts mine to shame. LOLOL

  35. Julie says:

    Anne, reading this post makes me want to get into the kitchen (though I just finished making 3 dozen jars of plum jam with the plum bonanza from our tree) AND sit down with my knitting at the same time. I’ll email you a recipe for spicy tomato ketchup that will make you weep because it is so delicious.

    David is a treasure, and your study is making me green with envy!

  36. Joan M says:

    What an amazing post, Anne. Your beautiful knits, the wonderful garden, food, your home – wow. I am in awe of all you and David accomplish!