“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” — Henry David Thoreau.
“To insure good health: Eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” — William Londen.
“A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.” – Samuel Butler
Aaron and I splurged recently and purchased a SodaStream soda maker. I have to admit I learned about this device through an ad on my own blog … They got me!
We’re completely enthralled with our soda maker and we’ve been drinking sparkling water nonstop since we bought it. You fill up the bottle with water, screw it into the machine, and press a button that inserts CO2 into the water. Afterwards, you can add flavor syrups to create real soda–Something we haven’t done yet.
We decided to splurge and buy our SodaStream after I did some research about the cost. We had been buying Topo Chico and club soda from the grocery store. We drank it so fast that we were spending a pretty penny keeping our stockpile up. We bought our SodaStream for about $90 at Sears, which seems like a lot of money. There were much cheaper soda makers on the market, but I decided to go with SodaStream because its CO2 canister will carbonate 60 liters of water; when it’s expired, you simply get it refilled (green). The other soda makers use small CO2 canisters that carbonate only one liter per use (wasteful). Over the long-term, I figured out, the SodaStream will actually save us money we would be spending on CO2. It definitely saves us money compared to buying sparkling water at the grocery store (and cuts down on garbage).
We have been so well hydrated since we bought this!
“All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.” – Abraham Lincoln
This rooster lives near the Town Lake Animal Center in Austin, where I volunteer helping the homeless dogs. The pretty rooster and some chickens are wild, and they hang out at the shelter for some reason. Maybe they’re eating loose pieces of dog food. The birds have learned the dogs cannot reach them, and they seem cocky about it. They’ll strut along within feet of the dogs’ kennels. It’s funny to see it!
Okay, here’s the dilemma:
We have a healthy crop of homegrown, heirloom tomatoes that all ripen simultaneously. It’s impossible to consume all the tomatoes raw, so we must preserve them before we lose all our hard work. It’s a great problem to have. But we still need a solution.
Solution one: make tomato sauce
Roughly chop the tomatoes, or you can leave them whole if you want to save time. Place oil in the bottom of a stock pot and cook the tomatoes over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree the tomatoes with a hand immersion blender. Simmer the mixture over low heat until it’s reduced by half, or until you’ve gotten rid of enough water so the tomatoes are the consistency that you want. Now you can store the sauce in mason jars and can it (or freeze).
Solution two: make fire-roasted salsa
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Also chop some peppers: we use a mixture of both red and green jalapenos and serranos, but you’ll have to decide based on the spiciness you’re looking for. Add some garlic and onions, too! Place the produce in a pan and roast them on a low-heat grill for about one hour. Cool the veggies to the touch, peel the skins and remove the seeds. Blend the salsa in a blender with some water, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro.Now you can put your salsa in mason jars and can (or freeze) it.
Solution three: can the tomatoes
This is a little more complicated, but it’s worth it because you’ll be able to use the tomatoes for any recipe. Immerse each tomato in boiling water for about one minute, and then transfer it to an ice-water bath. Cool the tomato to the touch and then peel off the skin. Chop the tomato and remove the seeds. Now your tomatoes are ready to can.
Canning is a complicated process and it should be the subject of its own post! In the meantime, check out this awesome website by the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.
We have a gorgeous wildflower patch on the side of our garden. Aaron grew flowers to attract bees, which help pollinate the veggies in our garden. The photo shows a springtime poppy.
Earth laughs in flowers. – by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Martha Washington, one of our Red Sexlink Hens, peers out the hen house door as Aaron snaps a photo.
“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.” – by Aesop.