Blink…or You’ll Miss It

The last two weeks haven’t been terribly conducive to blogging, but I now have photographic proof of the existence of the elusive northeastern U.S. snowfall!

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Changing Seasons

In my little corner of the northeastern US, we enjoyed a particularly long stretch of beautiful fall weather. I’ve gotten more yard work and cleaning up of gardens done then I’ve managed to do in years. And best of all, I didn’t freeze my buns off! (Well, to be honest, if it got that cold, I wouldn’t even bother with the yard work.)

It’s not all done, though, because, in my more enthusiastic gardening days (pre-writing), I planted more than I can possibly handle now. But I also can’t bear to dig up all those plants I spent hours of love and care on.

Now, my beautiful summer flowers are gone, replaced by interesting dried flower heads and fall foliage and one sad little chrysanthemum. I really should move that poor thing.

Anyway, here are some photos. Something to look back and remember in fondness during the long, cold, dark winter to come. Brrrr.

Ornamental Pear Tree

Hydrangea

Spirea

Burning Bush

Chrysanthemum

Spring is Back – Quick, Don’t Blink!

After the last snow storm that shut everything down only two weeks ago, we’ve had beautiful weather and the snow is quickly melting.  Right now, it’s 68 degrees!!! 

And my gardens are coming back to life again!  (Why do I have this incredible urge to sing a Disney song?)

Even though I’m sure we’ll probably get at least one more snowfall, I get so happy when my little guys start popping back up in the Spring. 

 

Here in western New York we’ll have warm days like today and then go back to 20s or 30s and it’ll go back and forth like that for a while.  I don’t particularly like Mother Nature’s whole “Here, have a warm, sunny day.” and then “Psych!!”  But, I guess I’ve gotten used to it. 

How about you?  What is Spring like where you are – or are you still under a foot of snow?

In Praise of the Tomato

Home Canned Tomatoes

To me, this picture is gorgeous! 

This is the result of 11 handlebaskets of tomatoes procured from my local farm stand over the course of about 6 weeks and lovingly scalded, cut up, cooked and canned by my very own self. (You also see our booze stash.  We only have so much shelf space because most of it is given over to my book collection.  There is absolutely no more room on my kitchen shelves.)

 Every year, at the end of the growing season, I look at my shelves and feel like I’ve accomplished something good.  When I was a child, my mother would can bushels of tomatoes, beans, peaches, pears, and cherries, as well as make chili sauce, jams, and jellies.  The basement shelves contained a rainbow array in clear Mason jars.  Of course it was a long, hot, back-breaking summer for my mother (and my sister and I, when we helped), but the results guaranteed delicious, economical food that lasted until the next canning season.  At the time I didn’t think much about this, it was just what we did and like any other kid, I turned my nose up at some of it.  Thinking about it today, I wish I had enough time and inclination to do what my mother did, seemingly effortlessly. 

Tomatoes are a major component of my cooking, which is why they are the one thing I make sure I do can.  I use them for everything from spaghetti and other pasta sauces (yes, there are different ones) to soup, stew and chilli, to ratatouille, and sausage, peppers and onions hoagies, just to name a few.  While I can buy canned tomatoes in many different forms in the grocery store, I find a definite difference in the taste and texture from mine.   

Heaven help me if I ever develop an ulcer – I would probably starve!  It suppose that would help my figure, but I’d also be seriously depressed.  Tomatoes are my happy food, my comfort food.  And from the information I hear from different sources, tomatoes are good nutrition.  I found a wonderful website for all things tomato – http://TomatoesWeb.com which has sections on history (Did you know tomatoes originated in South America?), health benefits (tomatoes are high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant) as well as fun facts and how to grow them.  I also found a fascinating article http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/passion-for-tomatoes.html?c=y&page=1 discussing the differences between commercial and heirloom tomato varieties and the genetic tinkering of tomatoes.  I have grown both heirloom types and those that are commonly available for home gardeners and bred for disease resistance and found that, hands down, these all taste better than what’s available in the grocery store.  I love the different colors of the heirloom varieties and, in my opinion, some of these do taste better than the usual red ones. 

So I guess I’m a tomato snob.  And I’m proud of it.