It's tomato time!

Not sure what to do with all your tomatoes and not set up for canning? That's been me for the past few years......I love tomatoes and usually plant a few to many plants and then I'm suddenly overwhelmed when they all come in and I'm not set up to can....OR I get a bowl full that's not enough to can but to many to keep on my counter and eat on for a week;)

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I discovered my love for roasting tomatoes 2 years ago when a sweet neighbor would drop off a small box of gorgeous yellow tomatoes on my door step a few times a week! some days I was heading out the door with not much time and other days it would get late in the evening and I just wanted to get them in the freezer;) roasting takes such little prep work and such little oven time and offers amazing flavor!! 


This recipe is not a true recipe with exact measurements but here is what I do!

Gather Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Fresh Garlic and Basil. (Fresh is my favorite but it you do not have fresh basil dried works great OR I also like an Italian blend with basil, thyme and oregano)

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Preheat over to 375 degrees. wash and Quarter your tomatoes. No need to peel! dice your garlic and cut your basil. mix everything together with salt and pepper and lay on a cookie sheet and drizzle with Olive Oil. 

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Bake for 30-40 min until the edges start to curl. 

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Let your tomatoes cool and prepare quart size freezer Ziploc bags. I like to label mine and use within a year for a fresher taste:)

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There you have it! super simple and delicious!! 

We use these frozen roasted tomatoes all through the winter for various family favorite dinners.

Here are our top 3 favorites!!

-Homemade Pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or our new favorite Kerrygold Dubliner aged white cheddar. yum!! for the kids they prefer just cheese......For my hubby and I we love our pizza topped with mushrooms, peppers and fresh basil!

-Winter soup with Tomatoes, black beans, cubed sweet potatoes, kale and Organic chicken stock (we get ours at Costco or my mama who makes amazing chicken stock and bone broth)

-Spaghetti  and Lasagna. For sauce we like to put our roasted tomatoes in a food processor with tomato paste (image below of what I use from Costco) to thicken and we occasionally add a few other spices to taste. so simple and tastes so fresh! 

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Happy Gardening!!!

No one has time for weeds.

I love a pretty garden......Not only has my love for raised bed garden boxes increased as I have discovered how much easier I can tend to the soil but they look nice right? clean lines, natural wood, lush green veggies planted neatly in them, but those weeds.......they can take over in a day it seems! As we prepped our boxes this year we had a dear friend bring us a dump truck load of soil from a cow pasture! I'm talking dark, rich, manure filled soil and our veggies loved it! and SO DID THE WEEDS.......... 

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I waited for the day after a nice rain and easily pulled the tallest weeds and then took the time to layer my beds with a trick that has worked WONDERS year after year. 

I gathered as many news papers I could get my hands on and even picked up a huge box of packing papers a friend was tossing and I soaked the papers in a large tub of water. this helps the paper mold around each plant base and also keeps the paper from blowing away, which out on our breezy hill I need all the help I can get! and for those of you who love recycling....I can't think of a better earth friendly way to use up old newspaper!

The next step involves gathering old leaves, mulch or my favorite.....Pine Needles! It's what I think not only keeps the paper down but also keeps moisture in the plants and also looks clean and manageable. YAY for all of that! My parents happen to live right across the street from a pine tree forest (The Deep Dark Spooky Woods) as our kids call it;) and we simply rake up endless pine needles and bag them up. 

So there you have it.......

What may take a few hours of prep, weeding and layering will save you countless hours in your garden this summer. 

Like I said, I like a pretty garden, one I can sit back and admire, one I can leisurely pick from and I certainly try my hardest to make it a place I don't feel overwhelmed or defeated in. So take the time, I promise you won't regret it!  

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Happy Gardening!!

 

If you want to find your roots, get your hands dirty

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Gardening is more than just a few raised bed garden boxes and fresh veggies........To me it's a way of life, a place to get my hands dirty, a place with very little distraction and a constant reminder of my childhood. As I grew up, my mama's garden was huge and bountiful, with perfectly spaced seeds, a system to when and where she planted each plant and as we helped her weed and water we all dreaded yet enjoyed the day when it was canning time:) canning time looked like this: An old sheet laid out on the floor of our family room, gallons and gallons of beans and an empty metal bowl for all the ends we would snap off. We looked forward to the movies we would watch and our favorite shows like Anne of Green Gables and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. We'd snap and snap and snap and then stuff ball jars for what felt like days. Then it was Tomatoes we would blanch, peel and quarter. 

As a young girl I'm not sure I felt the same sense of accomplishment my mama did.......what felt like a chore to us was thoroughly enjoyed over a family meal and repeated year after year. For every time I huffed and puffed over picking and canning my Mama saw a beautiful harvest, hard work paying off and savings in their wallets. 

I'll never forget the first year I was married.........We had a smallish yard but room for a garden and I was thrilled to begin!! The first thing I did was call Mama.......I asked her to share all her secrets, where to begin and as she always did and still does.....she stopped what she was doing and came right over with her gloves, shovel and wisdom.

We had a beautiful garden and When we sold our first home a year and a half ago one of the hardest things to leave was my garden. So many hours were spent there, meals were made for our growing family from the veggies and berries that grew. It was my space, a place I'd sometimes just sit and watch on my cobalt blue bench, sometimes with a cup of coffee, or evenings with a glass of wine. It had a white picket fence, bird houses and mulched walkways . . My mama taught me the importance and ease of raised beds, compost, manure, straw and starting seeds. 

When we Began building our new home one of the first things I did was walk our property to scout out where my new garden would go:) Then I began planning, drawing and dreaming........


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Just like our home plans began so did my garden......with paper, pencil, a ruler, a cup of coffee and Pandora playing......This time around I included a few things that I most likely wouldn't get to THIS year but we left plenty of space to add later such as tilled rows for cutting flowers and berries. 

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We began with raised bed boxes. After watching my mama for years garden in an open space that she tilled every year, and had a difficult time keeping weeds away she began gardening in raised bed boxes and I knew that's what I would do always. Here's what we did!

We used UNTREATED 2x10's. Cut 3 feet by 11 feet. A few nails in each end and we were good to go! You can get technical and detailed with raised boxes......but we wanted simple, quick and easy! 

 

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We positioned our old chicken coop in the center to use as a garden shed and remind us of our old home......some things are just hard to let go of:) I also built these tiered teepees for my tomatoes and green beans. 

Here's what I have learned in my gardening journey. It takes time.....what I dream up now may not become reality for a few more years but my goal this year was a garden I could pick from for a few meals, share with friends and have a place to be when building was taking over. I also love that I learned more about my children this gardening season! Our oldest would rather clean the RV and do dishes while our 3rd born and only son has really shown a love for gardening, planting seeds, watering them and watching them grow. This became a time where we spent quality time together.....I can't even describe the look on his face as he picked carrots that he grew himself!! 

If you are dreaming of a garden.....just start! you wont regret it, and take your time, start small and enjoy the process! As we are halfway through the summer time you may be thinking "well its to late to plant" join me as I start planning my fall crop! Think Pumpkins, kale, broccoli, and more!! Happy Gardening!!