July 31, 2008
Harvest time for Tomatoes is generally from the third week in July until the frost takes them in the fall. So… the minute the tomatoes are ready to pick I’m right there with my salt shaker.
Tomatoes piled high in bushel baskets would sit on our back porch waiting for my mom to put up them into bottles. The minute mom’s back was turned, the big dark red juicy one on the top vanished into my pocket. With salt shaker in hand, I would duck behind the fence and take my first bite of the season. Oh my… what a glorious moment… juice running down my hand and all. To this day… my first tomato of the year is eaten warm…and whole. I manage to control the juice.
In the old days, we could pick a bushel at Camilla Holdaway’s tomato patch for $.50. After my marriage, a bushel of tomatoes was still a great deal at $1.50. Now, your lucky to get a bushel for under $15.00. Not hardly worth bottling at that price.
Oh my gosh… did I ever bottle tomatoes. Whole Tomatoes,Stewed Tomatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Snappy Tom, Tomato Juice, Chili Sauce, Green Tomato Relish. At least 8 to 10 bushels were bottled every year…and at that time, only two little boys were there to help us eat it all. Some how it all vanished by spring.
We even tried to plan our 4th child around the tomatoes season. We wanted a new baby… but not in September when the tomatoes were on! But… you guessed it… Katie was born on Sept 19th. God… in his great wisdom… knew I wouldn’t be canning tomatoes forever.
I still love a fresh picked tomato with salt. This year, when my single tomato plant in my container garden produced tomatoes, the watch was on for the red color to appear. I counted the days until one tomato was just the perfect red…than snap. No cooling off in the fridge and sliced nicely on a plate… no, no. My salt shaker and I appeared at the garden’s edge. A tomato just tastes different when it’s a bit warm and you eat it right from the vine. It’s just the best.
When September rolls around, and the sky is that wonderful azure blue, and there is a bit of fall in the air, the old hankering to bottle tomatoes comes upon me. My Chili Sauce is to die for and the Tomato Juice just can’t be beat. Hmmmm….just maybe….
P.S. Now that the tomato harvest is on… it’s time for Spicy Tomato and Bean Fiesta. Recipe coming soon!
July 30, 2008
Dill is an herb that flourishes well in an herb garden and is a delightful herb to use in your cooking. Growing dill is easy and it does well in the full sun or part shade. Dill can be be planted by seed or plant starts. Sometimes it’s called dill weed because it comes back in the herb garden if the seeds from the previous year have fallen to the ground. It can over take an herb garden area so, you can control it by plucking out the new plants you don’t want to grow to maturity.
The dill herb reaches from 24 to 36 inches tall. However, there are dill dwarf varieties that are nice for container gardens. As the dill weed reaches full maturity, the plant may have to be staked because they have a tendency to bend over.
Harvesting the dill weed tops just before the flower opens gives you the best flavor. However, you can let the flowers go to seed for the next years planting. Also, the dill seeds from the head can be harvested and used later in your cooking.
Down on the stem of the dill plant, are airy fern like leaves. These can be harvested chopped and used in dill sauce, or a dill dip. The leaves can be cut and dried for future use. The entire dill weed head, stem and leaves are used in bottling homemade dill pickles.
An accent of the dill head and stem are lovely mixed in with a cut flower bouquet.
For me… the growing season for my herb garden is not long enough for me to experiment with all the possibilities. I am planning an indoor herb container garden for this winter. However, a 36 inch dill weed plant will not be part of my indoor herb garden selection. Too bad… for I dearly love a touch of dill.
P.S. For cooking with dill weed, check out my fantastic Fresh Dill Dip.
July 30, 2008
Cooking with herbs adds a wonderful subtle flavor to foods. This dill dip uses the airy fern like leaves of the dill weed plant and is absolutely delicious. This dill dip recipe also requires fresh parsley leaves which give it added flavor. The herbs are coming on strong right now and it’s time to begin to enjoy the veggie harvest.
What makes this dip unique is the use of the fresh herbs along with a seasoning salt called Bon Appetit (a mild blend of celery and onion salt.) It is quiet salty… so don’t over do.
Prepare your parsley bunch by washing it and placing into a small container. I just use a small plastic disposable cup which is a bit narrow at the bottom. I use my scissors rather than kitchen sheers because the tips fit nicely in the bottom of the plastic cup. And yes… I do wash my scissors before I begin my cutting. Then… I cut, cut, cut, clip, clip, clip, until the parsley is cut to my liking…small and fine. You’ll need about 1 TB.
Cutting the fern like leaves of the dill weed plant is next. I rinse off the leaves, lay them on a cutting board, hold on to the ends, and using my trusty scissors, I cut, cut, cut the leaves very fine. You’ll need 1 TB of cut dill.
Place 1 cup of sour cream in a bowl along with 1 cup of mayo. Add 1 scant TB of Bon Appetit Seasoning Salt, 2 TB of dried onion flakes, 1 TB of your fresh dill, and 1 TB of fresh parsley. Mix well and let the flavors blend for couple of hours.
Serve this scrumptious dip with fresh veggies. I love fresh cucumbers. Great on tomatoes… corn on the cob… new carrots from the garden… on and on.
P.S. To learn more about dill, take a look at my post on growing and cooking with dill.
P.P.S If you want to be on my, recipe list and receive a hard copy of Fresh Dill Dip for your recipe files… just fill in the form below and you will get a copy immediately. Your printed recipe will fit into a 5X7 photo binder. Once your on my newsletter and recipe list… you won’t have to sign up again. After you sign up… I will automatically send you all future recipes. You’ll get lots of other free goodies too.
July 29, 2008
The annual Pioneer Day celebration commemorating the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake valley was on held on the 24th of July. The first recognized pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley, under the direction of Brigham Young, on July 24, 1847. (Opps… on the video, I said it was 1843… “beg yer pardon.”) Today, the once dry barren valley, on the edge of a great lake of salt, is a booming, growing metropolis.
My friend, Marie, a native of the Spanish Fork, Ut., called and reminded me that there was fun to be had… on this day of remembrance. The Spanish Fork annual celebration is small but fun… and one that my old nerves can manage. So… three of my grandsons, Wyatt, Glade, and Randall and I ventured south of my home to the festivities.
The four of us wandered among the booths that were selling nic-nacks… bought a couple of things and checked out the great food vendors. The boys settled on Pizza.. (don’t as me why) and… I had a great pulled pork sandwich.
We walked down the street to a historic home that has transported old pioneer log cabins to the property and we found handmade quilts were on display among the pioneer historic relics.
The quilts were made by local ladies and were displayed on the clothes lines and on fences. What a beautiful site to behold. Just look at all the talent, and creativity in one location.
We all found our favorite quilts and the boys, tried their roping skills on mannequin cows.
After we watched a blacksmith at work… and purchased double scoops of homemade ice cream… we headed for home. What a fun day. I love to spend time with my grandkids… “They make my heart happy.”
I often wonder what the pioneers would think of the ease of our day. I’m grateful for their many efforts to make this valley a great place to live an raise a family. With that said, I’m thrilled to be living in this day and age with so many conveniences: air conditioning, central heating, computers, cell phones, air travel, my trusty old car, electricity, grocery stores, Baijo Grill… I could go on forever. I’m just grateful!
P.S. I was standing next to a young girl at a vendor booth who was whining… and I mean whining. You know… that high pitched nasal whine that drives you crazy. The vendor didn’t have any “mood rings” for sell. “Whaaaa!” “Only these stupid necklaces and purses.” Wanted to smack her!
When I meet the Pioneers on the other side of the “pearly gates”… I don’t think they want to hear me whine about petty things. I remember someone saying. “Most of the time, we really don’t have any problems… just inconveniences.” I need to remember that more often.
July 26, 2008
Shiny glass marbles have always fascinated me. As a child, I always wanted to learn how to play marbles but, of course, it was a “boys” game and “no girls allowed.” It certainly was improper for a “girl” to kneel in the dirt, draw a circle in the dirt with her finger then, knuckle down and flip her prize marble at the target. Might get her starched dress and patten leather shoes dirty.
“Jacks” was the game for the gals… I and played it well. I could effortlessly swoop up all 8 jacks and catch the ball in mid air before it bounced on the old linoleum tile in the vestibule of our elementary school.
But in the pocket of that starched dress, I often carried a shiny glass marble, snagged from Teddy Crowther… when he wasn’t looking.
My sis, Shiela has collected this beautiful array of antique marbles… and displays them in a bowl on her dining room table for all to relish and remember. Thanks for the memories.
P.S. I wonder if she would miss that big red glass marble on the top? I guess I’d settle for that little blue one.
P.P.S. Hey… join our Photo Carnival. You don’t have to add any text… “A picture is a thousand words.”
July 24, 2008
My car battery died. I’ve been going get a little auto service on my car for several weeks now but just put it off. My battery fooled me because the lights would turn on and the windows would roll up but… if the car door was open too long… or the car wasn’t driven for a day… the battery would just not turn over the engine when started. So, after having kind folks jump my car battery several times, I got the clue that a new one was needed… and fast.
I made my last purchase only 3 years ago and knew the battery was still under warranty. I drove up to my local Auto Zone where the purchase had been made and experienced a lesson in “bad service vs good service.”
It was about 4:55 p.m. when I approached the counter and explained my circumstances. They looked up my information and sure enough the battery was still under some type of warranty and I wouldn’t have to pay full price. “Great… put it in,” I said.
The young employee said, “You can buy the battery but you’ll have to take it somewhere else to have it installed because I get off here in about two minutes.”
Turning to another employee, he said, “John, do you want to put in this lady’s car battery?” “Nope, I’m off at five,” came the reply.
Standing there speechless, I thought, “You have got to be kidding.” “Punks!”
Now you have to understand… this place doesn’t close until 9:00 p.m. and, the purchase of a battery includes installation. The night crew had not arrived yet.
There was a older gentleman standing behind the counter who did not appear to be an employee. He rolled his eyes, smiled and said, I’ll put her battery in… it will only take 10 minutes.” Now mind you… this guy didn’t even work there. He was there buying parts for his business which just happened to be, a mobile auto service.
By the time I finished my financial transaction… which took about 10 min because of the warranty thing… the fellow had my battery installed. Several new customers came in and guess what they wanted? Yep! Car batteries. The nice gentleman looked at me and said… “It looks as if I’m going to be busy.”
l ask the gentleman what was owed him… and of course, he said, “Nothing.” When I insisted, he said that $15.00 would be fine. I wrote out a $25.00 check and thanked him for his kindness. He gave me his card…and J Ryan Jones will be getting a call from me the next time I need auto service. Auto Zone won’t be seeing me again. Besides…Pep Boys is just across the street.
What these two young men don’t get is… the power of going the extra mile. Those who do a job just to get by will never experience the success of those who not only do a job well but give it a little extra. Eventually, what goes around comes around…. it’s a natural law.
P.S. By the way, my car battery only cost me $11.50. Even with the extra $25.00… that I was most willing to pay… the battery turned out to be about a $38.00 purchase. Pretty good considering batteries run around $80.00.
July 20, 2008
The DiStefano Famiy Reunion was held in Tabiona, Utah. It was the hometown of my grandparents, Girolamo and Kathrine DiStefano, from the 20’s to early 40’s. They moved out to the rural, eastern part of the state to “bootleg” during the prohibition… but that’s another story for another day.
Their children were raised in this quiet little valley… but moved away when they reached adulthood. Wanting to return to their “roots,” five of the nine children purchased property for trailers or cabins on Tabby Mt. overlooking this serene little valley. We have held our three day family reunion here for over 25 years… and that agenda will never change.
Since family members wander in at different times on Friday evening, a casual hot dog roast is held. The family members who show up, gather round the fire and tell stories and slap mosquitoes.
Saturday morning activities begin with the children’s games and water slide. The adult horse shoe competition kicks off… and runs for two days. This year the older kids participated in first family rendition of “The Amazing Race.” (See Video) The kids had a ball! We play and chat until around 2:30… then the crowd scatters to go back to their abodes to prepare the for evening feast.
Around 4:30, a banquet is placed on the table and everyone lines up to chow down. Sometimes a pig is put on a spit and other times, we prepare the meat ahead of time. There is always plenty to eat… and eat..and eat. Did I say there is always plenty to eat?
The dance in the town hall begins around 8:00 but nobody shows up until around 9:00. We have a live band and all. The kids have a great time dancing… bunny hopping and doing the “wipe out” thing. We stop for a bit to raffle off a sleeping bag for the kids. Check the little bitty sleeping bag winner. The bag is bigger than she is.
We then… raffle off a quilt for the adults. You don’t want to win the quilt though… cause if you do… your in charge of the “quilt raffle” the next year. I love quilts… but not so much that I want to win and take on the responsibility of coming up with a suitable quilt. These quilts aren’t shabby!
My son Wade, engraves a hunting knife every year for the men. The guys buy lots of tickets for a chance to win this one. It’s truly a collectors item. We dance until midnight then back up the mountain for a good nights sleep.
Up and running the next morning… cause the “Big raffle” starts at 10:00. Nobody seems to make it on time…. too tired from all that dancing. Raffle tickets are purchased right up until the last minute. Everyone donates prizes and gifts… some for the adults and some for the kids. Can you see by the expression on these faces…this is serious business.
Here’s the kicker… You don’t want to be holding the winning number for the last prize… which are camping chairs. Yep… you guest it… if you win… you are in charge of the raffle then next year. Can you tell by the look on my two boys faces how they feel about winning the chairs?
Home for lunch and back to the general meeting by 2:00. Need to count the money and plan for next year. Yea!… We made our expenses and a few bucks over. Through the years, we’ve built a nice little nest egg. Now that’s away to run a Family Reunion… in the black.
Hmmm… about 52 kids…and 48 adults. A little smaller than last year. Must be those darn gas prices.
Whew!…. it’s over. Are you tired yet? I sure am.
P.S. I think I’ll take another nap… I still haven’t recovered from our fun Family Reunion.
July 18, 2008
The wildflowers are blooming like craze at our mt. retreat in Tabiona. This is one of my favorites. This wildflower grows abundantly on the property line against the road. The sun had just come over the mt. and generously bathed this little beauty in light. It certainly lives up to its name: Indian Paint Brush.
P.S. Feel free to post your photos. If you need some assistance, refer to the Fun Foto Friday guidelines in the top banner.
July 17, 2008
These hand garden tools line the inside of my sister Sheila’s, potting shed. She and her husband, Dew, scout out the dumps and antique stores in search of clever items. These antique garden tools are quite a find. The nice thing is… they’re still usable… and Sheila puts them to good use in her delightful yard. Here a a few fun photos of their safe haven in Wallsburg, Ut.
Note how well they use their “dump” finds in their landscape. What fun!
The flowers in the old bike basket is one of my favorites.
P.S. I need to get busy and put my hands on my tools… The weeds are out of control!
July 16, 2008
The sounds of silence can’t be photographed… and it’s too bad. Oh what a stupendous picture it would make.
I just got home from attending our annual DiStefano family reunion in beautiful rural Tabiona, Utah. We spent a couple of days playing hard and having a good time. However… it’s over… I’m ready for a long winter’s nap.
After the extended family went home… a few of my own family hung around a little longer to unwind and relax. The difference between the “roar” of the crowd and a few quiet voices against a background of pure silence is astounding.
Most of the time, I’m not aware I’ve been submerged in the background noises of the city until I’m away… in a quiet place…then I find that flawless silence has a sound all of it’s own… and I love it. No cars whizzing by… no garbage truck racket… and no weed trimmer reverberation three blocks away.
The silence I’m talking about is, the wind in the trees, the snap of twigs as a deer prances away through the oak behind our trailer and the sound of rushing waters over the rocks at the river.
We took the kids to the river to play and you would think their playfulness would disturb the calm and peace. But no…. their voices seem to melt into the sounds of the river and nature. What a relaxing time.
I’m seriously taking a look at getting hooked up to wireless internet and taking my work to the woods… to our family retreat… on the face of Tabby Mt. There, I can sleep-in until 9:00… take a quiet walk… take a nap… work a little… take a nap… eat a lot… take a nap… watch “Gone With The Wind”… and go to bed early.
What a life!
In the mean time… I’m back in the city where I no sooner drive into my drive way than my neighbor comes running over to show me her son’s loose tooth… the phone rings and the Red Cross wants a donation… I water the pots filled with wilted flowers… the phone rings and I’m asked to take a covered dish to a funeral lunch.
Oh well.. back to the real world!
P.S. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all come to agreement… at the same time… and say, “Stop World… let’s have a moment of silence!” I wonder what that would sound like? Something like “Peace?”