Thursday, November 2, 2023

Green Tomato Harvest Ideas: Chutney

Now that I am learning about native plants and reading people like Doug Tallamy, I let my plants stand and die in their spots.

They provide homes for insects and food for other critters over winter. In the spring, they are reduced sufficiently to break down into soil or something - it must be easy because I don't have a memory of any hard work associated with them in the spring. 

So I had green tomatoes right up until frost. My husband brought in my huge bread bowl full. They are very versatile!

You can make salsa verde, to eat fresh or can. You can make green tomato curry or dhal (google for recipes), or you can chop them up and freeze them as is, no blanching required, to make that recipe in the future. You can pickle them as fridge pickles or to can if you don't have fridge space. And yesterday, I used a bunch to make chutney. 

I got the idea from my old Mennonite cookbook, Mennonite Community, that has green tomato pie which closely mimics apple pie. I have an apple chutney recipe I love, so I researched a bit and decided I could use green tomatoes instead of apples in my recipe. It worked GREAT. 

I did taste it at the end of cooking, tweaking the taste with a bit of salt and a few more sprinkles of cumin and chili powder. We'll eat this chutney next to Indian dishes this winter, with naan or with rice and curry. 

My freezers are full to the brim, so I was glad for a canning method for the green tomatoes. I think I'll can some pickles next. 

Green Tomato Chutney, adapted from Simply in Season

Combine in large pot, preferably wide:

12 cups finely chopped green tomatoes (I use my food processor)

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup raisins

2-3" piece ginger root, minced

2 1/2-3 cups dark brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seed

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

Bring to a boil, covered. Then reduce heat and simmer until softened, thickened, and will mound slightly on a spoon. Keep covered if the mixture is not very liquid-y, or remove lid to evaporate some liquid (depends on the green tomatoes - mine were on the dry side). Stir occasionally for up to 1 hour. To can, process in pints or half-pints in boiling water bath, 15 minutes for half-pints, 20 minutes for pints. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

On Replacing a Faucet

When I saw that our laundry faucet was leaking copiously, I surmised that the fix was a new faucet. The old one was as old as Genevieve, who is turning 18 any day now (my stars! that's a different post). Then, I further thought in my new pragmatic way: I bet replacing a faucet is just a bunch of screws and matching up connections. I prefer to save my money for skills and professional services I cannot hope to duplicate with a YouTube video. So I checked with my dad who is the ultimate handyman if he would be present while I crawled under the sink and matched things up. I wanted to free up my husband for other house repairs - he also is a handyman, but he works fulltime, unlike my dad who is retired and enjoying himself hugely. 

Guess what? It went great. I bought a faucet for about forty bucks, my husband bought new hoses for a few dollars more, and I changed that faucet with my dad's excellent guidance. The only glitch was that the hot and cold water got switched, which meant another tedious session under the sink switching them.  

As a professionally trained and experienced teacher, I was impressed with my dad's patient, positive approach. He gave some low-key guidance, never critical, and he did not show impatience as I struggled with the bolts and figuring out which tool to use, sometimes getting my righty-tighty and lefty-loosy mixed up. It's not easy to be the expert being patient as the novice hacks and bungles through the job. He just fetched a work light from his truck. He really had me do the work and sat back in full confidence that I could do the job. It was a delightful, empowering experience for me. I have more respect for my dad's life work and knowledge. 

I gave him concord grape pie - sort of a thank you gift but truly, I love to share my homemade fruit pies with my parents anytime. They are so appreciative.

In this phase of my life, I am looking for ways to cut through the patriarchal, traditional approaches to distill the problem and see what solution I can offer. I don't always have this confident, pragmatic energy, but when I do, I lean into it hard. It feels great. 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

My Very Strong Body

 This morning, I ran, almost literally ran, a 5k. I walked a little on the hills and I also wanted to stay with Genevieve. Phoebe started out with us but switched to walking with a friend (tiny brag: last year Phoebe ran the entire thing at age 6 with a patient kindergarten teacher as her buddy, even placing 6th in her age group!). 

This is the farthest I have ever run; I usually run a little over a mile in about 10 minutes, usually about twice a week. I am extremely proud of my strong body and mind for accomplishing this personal best! I kept checking in with myself as I ran, and I felt good and strong the whole way - not even that ragged breath, painful lung feeling that I loathe and try to avoid with running. 

My husband pointed out that in cycling, you can add up your weekly miles, double that, and be confident that you can ride that for a longer ride. So I see now how my dogged jogs for the last five years, really not increasing in speed or distance, have created this strength in me. 

Another thing: when I had my first baby, I went down into post-partum depression. I was blindsided and confused. By the time I figured out what was going on and started to climb out of the hole, I felt terribly betrayed by my body. One of my big healing steps was saying this out loud to a therapist, who gently led me to talk to my body, speaking truth and love. 

I have continued to grow in my love for my body beyond what she looks like - is she well-rested, well-fed, and strong? Today was a milestone in that radical self-love. I am definitely in perimenopause now with a whole cluster of symptoms a few months back: hot flashes, mood swings, dry mouth, achy joints, flesh blanket descending on my middle, and my period a skittish, random guest. So I am even more astonished and grateful for my body's endurance today.  I will continue to jog in astonishment and self-love!

A thrifty note: the tee shirt I am wearing is from 2019. I always decline a new one with the registration. Too many branded, logo, advertising tee shirts in the thrift stores for me to contribute to that waste. So I keep wearing my race tee on repeat, even mending the holes that the bunny nibbled in it when someone who shall not be named borrowed my shirt.  

Monday, April 3, 2023

A Long-Suffering Beret and a Wild Hat

I had this silvery-green wool yarn from a local shop, so not cheap. I knitted a beret. The band was much too loose, so I carefully handsewed a little knit headband inside. I wore it last winter, as in, the winter of 21-22. Great color, not a great fit. I wanted it to be a classic shape, the band not too tight or too loose, and a simple decrease. 

 I decided to undo the whole beret and knit it again with a different pattern. I did. It was a eensy-weensy beret. I almost gave up and gave it to Phoebe, but no, I took the dumb thing apart again. Now the yarn was so crinkled that I soaked it in cool water as a skein and laid it out to dry. I used the original pattern with different needles. Still NOT RIGHT. Now I read patterns very carefully, furiously, and doubtfully and finally finally finally, after knitting and re-knitting this beret over the course of the winter, I made a lovely beret that I like! The wool yarn was resilient and wonderful through this laborious process - thank you sheep, shearer, and spinner. 
Photos of me by *Phoebe*!

In a much shorter process, Phoebe and I realized one cold morning just before her bus arrived that she did not have a beanie. I was delighted to solve this problem with my stash. I had seen and noted a local artisan who knitted hats from different weights and kinds of yarn. Like yarn patchwork! Using the little bits! Phoebe was game for a wild hat, and it was SO much fun. Some of the yarn in my stash comes from balls I let my children choose at the creative reuse store as a treat for coming along. That explains this weird pink chenille yarn that becomes excellent next to the other colors and wool. There's also one little strand of eyelash yarn in there, too, making a great texture. I am definitely making more wild hats. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

When the Dog Bites. . .

 I was at my friend's house recently when she needed help in a hard time and I came across a potholder in her kitchen drawer that I had made long long ago. It was a funny blast from the past, but it also made me laugh out loud because her dog had clearly tasted a corner of the hotpad. 

I asked her if I could replace the bitten hotpad with a pair that matched her new kitchen better. She said yes! 

This is now the third time I have replaced my worn-out handmade hotpads for friends - I like knowing the hotpads are worn because that is what I meant them for. Satisfying all around. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Two Patchwork Pillows

I have been sitting in my bed more this winter - drinking tea, reading, journaling, you know, cozy things. In the past my whole house was a quiet sanctuary when the children were in bed, but these big beautiful children have independent social lives now and sometimes it takes place right in our house.


Which is good! Hilarious! But not quiet.

So I made myself a patchwork pillow to sit against the headboard and in the magic surprise of patchwork, I adore it. Restful yet not at all bland.

I limited myself to using my small scraps, which makes me extra-proud of my results. I used an extra throw pillow we had around, so I didn't have to buy anything at all for this project. This butterfly quilt was made by Grandma Weaver and I adore it.

I also saw the end of the patchwork living room sofa pillow. It stood up bravely to pillow fights (big kids!) and mending, but it was too worn for more mending. I took the zipper out and used it again. For the last year or so, I have been pretty determined to sew down my stash, but I had a vision for deep purple in some way for this pillow and no fabric to assist me. The striped fabric I found for pennies at the local creative reuse store is delightful in my living room. I pieced it with red and lavender and then I felt led to put baby rick rack on some stripes too. Patchwork magic again! I am thrilled. I am less fond of the other side, but have moved on to other things. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Low-waste Tee Shirt Rug

It is Christmas Eve, and the wind chill is -2°. I haven't written a post for months, as I become more middle-aged with all the internal processing and existential thoughts that entails. Possibly I will try to explain some of that sometime, but for right now, I will keep it simple and tell you about my rug triumph. (And throw in some pictures from Christmas tree acquisition, ok, because they're more fun than the rug pics). 
I needed a bath mat, and thought I could perhaps turn some of the ratty t-shirts around here into a rug instead of cutting them up for rags as I usually do. I am oversupplied with rags right now, but not bath mats! I'm calling this low-waste because I can't compost it when it wears out: one or two of the tees had some polyester content. 

I looked at a few YouTube videos of people crocheting rugs and got a big plastic crochet hook. I simply cut the t-shirts into approximately 1" wide strips, as long as I could make the strips, and then sewed them end-to-end on my sewing machine as needed. 
I found the crochet process addictive and delightful. Since I was making an oval, there were no ends of rows that invited me to stop, so I often kept on just going around and around. I started with about a six-inch ball of t-shirt yarn, and when that ran out I made another and kept going. I think there may be four or five t-shirts in this rug. It is actually somewhat heavy for its size and a little wonky in places due to the casual way I cut the strips. 
I also went back in with a needle and white thread and tacked down some of the more flyaway ends, which did not bother me at all. I'm sure a more experienced crochet-er could make a tidier rug, but overall, I am quite pleased. Phoebe has already requested a colorful crocheted rug for her room! We'll see.