Archive for September, 2011

New Look

Yes, things do look different here.  For some reason, which in my technically challenged state, I do not understand, my old theme got all messed up yesterday.  It may have already been messed up, but I just discovered it yesterday.  So I found a new one which I am getting accustomed to.  I hope you like it also.

We have new chickens in our coop.  The old set had gotten to where they had really cut back on laying and Pat was having problems getting out to take care of them, especially in last winter’s cold.  The rooster hated me, so I was not much help.  We gave them away to a younger couple with more stamina and more chickens right before Christmas.  We got 8 half grown pullets a few weeks ago.  They are getting close to being ready to start laying.  We look in the nest boxes every day.  We will have multi-colored eggs from 3 Wheaten Marans, 3 Ameraucaunas, and 2 Olive Eggers.  Can’t wait!

Some of the new chickens.


Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup, but I made mine spicy.

It has been a great summer for tomatoes.  Last year was awful.  I only had the small cherry types.  This year they are everywhere, big heirlooms, new roma types, all colors of cherry tomatoes, hybrids that actually taste good.  I’ve canned about 12 quarts of quartered tomatoes but the thing I have really wanted to do since last summer, is to make ketchup.  I never buy regular ketchup, it just seems like the total opposite of what I am about; high fructose corn syrup, highly processed, coming from who knows where.  There are probably organic versions out there, but it just did not seem worth it.  But every now and then someone eats with us who asks for ketchup and I have none to offer.  Well, now I do.  I can also put it on my purple hull peas and dry beans like my daddy did.  It is not hard to do; it just takes a really long time and a lot of stirring.  The tomatoes, bell peppers and onions came from the local farmer’s market.  The lone jalapeno came from my garden.  After finishing my batch, I read on the internet about someone who used a crockpot with the lid off, to do the long slow cooking.  I think I will try that next time.   The recipe I used was from Well Preserved by Mary Anne Dragan.  I made a few changes, but not much.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup

For Spice Bag, gather:  2 cinnamon sticks, broken; 1 tsp whole cloves; 1 tsp whole allspice; 2 Tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp celery seed.  Tie all up in a cheesecloth bag.

10 lbs Roma type tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 red jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds (this was my addition)

The cooked tomatoes in the food mill.

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Quarter tomatoes and put them and peppers and onions in large pot.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Let cool some.  I actually put mine in jars in the refrigerator at this point and went to bed.  It was late.  The next afternoon, I put all the veggies through the food mill into the heavy enameled dutch oven.  You could go for the crock pot at this point.  Add the brown sugar, salt and vinegar, put the spice bag into the pot and cook.  The recipe says 1 hour, but I must have had mine at a much lower temperature than they did.  I cooked it for at least 5 hours.  I did not want to have to stand over it constantly to keep it from scorching.  When it as thick as you like it, take out the spice bag, spoon into half pint jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.  I got 7 half pints.  The recipe says 6.

Spice bag in place.

The ketchup is delicious, much better than anything out of a bottle.  I may actually come to like ketchup.

The lids have popped.