August 10, 2009: A Day in Granny's Life

*Warning, the following is a typical day in my life. It's more like a book than a blog, but my days are quite long!*

I crawled out of bed this morning, not really looking forward to tackling the table full of tomatoes from last night. I did, however, really want to make some more sweet, spicy Chili Sauce. That stuff is just so good poured over steak or hamburger patties with caramelized onions, and allowed to simmer a bit.

First, I had to get dressed and go out to the garden. I told KitsapFG I'd try to do a taste test on the different varieties of tomatoes I'm growing, so I took my "tomato map" and a sharpie pen, and headed for the tomatoes. I tried to find a ripe one on each vine, but I'd just picked them last night and didn't get the best specimens. I marked each one with the pen, and as they ripen, I'll do the taste test and report back.

Back inside, I got a pot roast and veggies in the crockpot so dinner would take care of itself, then I brought in the baskets full of tomatoes.

First I had to peel, core and chop 16 cups of tomatoes. I also squeezed out most of the seeds for this batch of sauce (optional). After adding chopped bell peppers, onions, sugar, vinegar and spices, it was put on the stove to simmer. This is what it looked like after the first hour of cooking. You can see, by the line on the pot, just how much it had boiled down at this point.

After two hours of simmering, it was thick and ready to can.

The jars were sterilized in boiling water, the lids were kept warm on the stove, and the lids and utensils were ready to go. The hot jars were filled with sauce, capped and lowered into the boiling water bath, where they would spend the next 15 minutes.

Due to the size of the stock pot I use as a canner, I could only get six wide mouth pint jars in it. I found a skinny 1-1/2 pint jar that would fit in with the others, and a really short half-pint jar that could piggy back on one of the shorter pint jars. So I ended up with eight pints of sauce.

I still had a lot of tomatoes left, so I boxed up ten pounds of them and had Mr. H take them to an apartment building downtown, where there are a lot of disabled and low income residents. I think they will enjoy some vine ripened, fresh tomatoes. I also have a box of the extra-good heirlooms to send over to my neighbor, Pat, along with the dozen jar rings I had to borrow from her last week. That leaves me with a bunch of cherry and plum tomatoes, plus that basket full that I picked this morning. And some in the refrigerator that are almost over ripe. I'm getting real sick of tomatoes.

Leftover tomatoes.

Kitchen clean up time, then grab a quick chicken salad sandwich....with sliced tomatoes, of course, and back to work.

On to the next mess. Mr. H ate that second pumpkin pie, the one I promised my youngest son (OK, I might have eaten just a little bit of it), so I'll bake another one for him. I didn't really want to send my good Pyrex pie plate home with him, anyway. He has a way of keeping all my jars and containers, so a Dollar Tree pie tin can go to his place!

It might be messy, but I have two pie crusts ready to chill in the refrigerator. My other son, John, reads my blog, so I expect him to come by for his pumpkin pie, too.

I love my food processor. I've used it so much chop tomatoes, peppers and onions, make pie dough, and mix up the pumpkin pie filling.

One pie done. Time to clean the kitchen......again.

Kitchen's clean, so of course it's time to fix dinner! That's a cinch tonight, since it's in the crockpot.

Mr. H got a dinner salad with romaine lettuce, Kellogg's Breakfast tomato (he thought I'd put diced peaches on his salad!), and cucumbers, all from the garden, and bottled ranch dressing. I opted for the romaine with cranberries and walnuts, and Wishbone Bountifuls Berry Delight dressing.

Mr. H wanted to watch a ballgame on TV while he ate, so I dined alone at the kitchen counter. We had onion topped pot roast with carrots, potatoes and gravy. The potatoes and parsley were from my garden, but we're having to eat store bought carrots for now. Did anybody notice I bought myself a white plate, so the food would photograph better?

With dinner done, and the dishes in the dishwasher, it was time for my evening rounds in the garden.

My first stop was the volunteer tomato behind the garden shed. It was in need of a drink of water, and I was in awe of its beauty. It's so healthy, and grows so fast! It has green tomatoes on it, but I have no idea what I'll get. I hope it's a nice, sweet cherry tomato.

Two melons in the whiskey barrel. These were seeds from Dan's Urban Veggie Garden. No, the one on the right isn't growing upside down, I propped it up there for its picture.

Those melon vines are growing crazy, and loaded with blossoms. I do hope more melons set and ripen before winter.

I should have pick strawberries tonight, but I spent too much time at the fence, visiting my neighbor Pat. I delivered her the box of heirloom tomatoes, and talked her into letting me pick a bucket of fresh tomatoes for her. She promised to weigh them, and call me with the total turned out to be 10-1/2 pounds. By the time we finished visiting, it was getting too dark to pick berries.

Here is the fall planting of onions, beets and carrots. The carrot seeds were glued to paper napkins and then planted in this bed. No thinning!

The beets are growing quickly. I grabbed an English walnut off the path to show how large the roots are getting. They are at least the size of a silver dollar already.

See how the peppers are beginning to turn color! Even the jalapenos are turning red, but they still don't have any heat, I can eat them like a bell pepper, even chew the seeds! I emailed Ohio Heirloom Seeds to ask Michael if he knew why my peppers aren't hot. He'd never heard of that happening, and is going to look into it. Such a nice place to do business with....good seed prices, very reasonable shipping charges and excellent service.

The bush beans are up in the former potato bed. That's a Juliet tomato that my neighbor gave me in the background. It is getting HUGE, and absolutely loaded with Roma grape tomatoes. Pat's Juliet tomato was bigger than mine when we planted them, and they aren't more than ten feet apart...competing with the same lilac tree. The only difference is one shovel full of compost that I snitched from the squash patch to put in the planting hole. Yet look at the difference........

Pat's Juliet tomato.

I'm surprised the lettuce germinated in the 100 degree heat, let alone grew to an edible size without bolting. We had romaine from this bed for our dinner.

This is Mr. H's cantaloupe. He picked out the seed, and it looks like he will get the lone melon from it. It does have a lot of blossoms, so maybe I'll get lucky.

Here are the bell peppers I started last February in AZ. The plants are sturdy and healthy, but the peppers are small. I did get a few red ones this week, which gave some color to a batch of pickle relish. There is also a leftover jalapeno here. I haven't yet tasted it to see if it is hot. The impatiens have been the prettiest flowers in the garden. These are growing in full sun, but they just keep pumping out the blossoms. Cheryl sent me some lily bulbs last week, and I planted them in their own special garden with a wire fence to protect them. The next day, I noticed doggy paw prints in the lily bed.....and the lilies were gone! I found them, just slightly chewed, in the grass. They are now temporarily in a pot behind the cherry wood timbers!

I should have picked more tomatoes tonight. There are a lot of ripe ones now, where there weren't many at all this morning.

But it was almost dark, so my little gnome and I grabbed our basket of cucumbers and headed for the house. It's been a long day.


  1. Have Mercy I'm tired! I need a nap!

  2. I bet it was a long day, Granny. You're lucky that you don't have to deal with all of my bugs, because it takes alot of time just eliminating them. Gosh, you sure like that chili sauce, don't ya? My tomatoes are starting to come in again, after a month long slow down. Oh well....gotta love this climate.

  3. You are getting strawberries this time of year???! And you just HAD to post a pic of your kitchen with all that beautiful counter space!!! I hear you on those tomatoes... it's like being an accountant in tax season! Everything looks so good! I did a carrot planting the other day with the toilet paper, I just hope it isn't too hot for the seedlings once they sprout. Oh, well, I have more seeds, lol!

  4. I am in sincere awe of your tomato production. I just wish I had more space so I could let mine bush instead of trellising them.

    Your strawberries are doing great too. Mine...not so much. Any advice on getting them to produce so well?

  5. Fanfortony,'re funny ;-)

    EG, Yep, I do like the stuff, but I think I have just about enough canned up now.

    Erin, yes! They are really loaded with green berries and blossoms, too. They are the day neutral Tristar, and bear constantly from spring until frost. The berries are rather small, but abundant and tasty. I've harvested about 13 pounds from the 20 plants this year. Not enough for making jam, but plenty for eating fresh.

    My carrots were planted in 100 degree weather, and it's still in the high 90s most days. They are growing great.

    Cheryl, get a day neutral variety strawberry (see my comment to Erin, above). You'll get smaller amounts at each picking, but they bear from spring until frost. They are truly everbearing, unlike an "everbearing" variety which only bears twice in the season.


  6. I love seeing your garden. You are one busy woman. The pumpkin pie looks devine. We are running into tomato overload too. Then a couple of months ago I bought a few more plants on clearance.......looks like they will all be cherrys. I ate a few from the vine last night and they are so sweet. Our grape tomatoes this year are weak tasting.

  7. I have long days, but I have four kids to add to them. You just blow me away. If it's all compost that makes your garden grow so, then I'm a convert. Next year will be the Year of Compost, if I have to snatch stuff from neighbors and stores to make it!

    Lovely, lovely, and inspirational.

  8. I'm tired after reading that post! I've got three small children and you just made me feel like an under-achiever! Congrats. I'm off to get things done now......

  9. Granny, you need to get yourself a Victorio strainer (or something like it). It takes so much of the work out of making tomato sauce. Just toss the tomatoes in the top and turn the crank. The seeds and skin goes out one end and the pulp out another. You do have to run the skin/seed mixture through again if you want to get all the pulp out, but it is just so much less work. I even have the berry screen so I can deseed my raspberries without effort. The only real work is cleaning the screen afterward.

  10. Granny, I think you were a hyperactive kid that never grew old. Damn am I jalousie.

  11. oh my word, granny! i'm glad you're able to find time to stop and take pics and to blog about your exciting days. your blog is one of my faves! i will be referring to it heavily next year when i have enough of a harvest to can. =)

  12. MissyM, you're so lucky to have sweet cherry tomatoes! Mine aren't very good this year, which is disappointing. I love to eat the sweet ones right out there in the garden. Next year I'm going to try to find Sungold or Sweetie.

    Stefaneener, it wasn't even home made compost, it was dairy compost that I bought from the nursery last year. That's what is in all my garden beds, and it seems to do the trick.

    Rebecca, looking after three small children is much harder than what I do in a day. When I watch my grandbaby (10 months old and just learned to walk today!) I'm worn to a frazzle! I had five children...I don't know how I managed!

    Daphne, I haven't done hardly any canning for years. A bit of chili sauce and hot pepper jelly last year. I'd love to have one of those things, but I really don't plan on having this many tomatoes next year! This year was an experiment to see what I want to grow in the future, and so far I'm down to just four varieties plus a different cherry tom. Right now I just heat the tomatoes, put them in the food processor, then strain them through my colander. It's a bit messy, but not too difficult.

    John, I wasn't hyperactive at all. I got that way raising my five kids! I just never learned to slow down.

  13. Kelli, thank you! I'm glad I can help you.

  14. Cue "Little Old Lady from Pasadena"...
    Go, Granny, Go Granny, Go, Granny, Go!

    You are amazing!

  15. Holy Moly! So many things to be impressed with in this post:

    ~The volume and quality of tomatoes
    ~The amount of things you pack into a day
    ~The yumminess (is that a word?!) of your cooking
    ~The healthiness of your garden overall
    ~That you are such a sweet heart to take time to tackle the tomato taste testing too!

    Simply awe inspiring.

  16. You're one busy lady! I'm good at the cooking part, not so good at the cleaning part. The white plates do a good job of framing the food and they add light as well. The two melons look so good. I bet they will taste even better then the first. I have noticed a few actual female blossoms on my melons. I am hoping for some by Sept. Such a strange season here I'd be lucky to harvest any. Normally it is really hot and humid most of the summer but that certainly has not been the norm this year.

  17. SB, You're a hoot ;-)


    KitsapFG, Grandson Kevin and I taste tested three varieties tonight, warm and ripe from the garden. I'm keeping a log, so stay tuned.

    Some of the tomatoes are NOT healthy. I've pulled a few, will dispose of more this week. I'm saving those pictures for Gardener's Death Day at the end of the month. I'm sure some could be saved, but at this point, I don't mind losing them.

    Dan, I'm seeing improved crops for fall. My beets and carrots, and now spinach and lettuce, look very promising.

    Your cooking is fantastic. I'm a plain old "farm style' cook like my grandma was, I just toss in a bit of this and a bit of that, and seldom follow a recipe. I'd be scared to death to tackle some of the beautiful dishes you create!

  18. Your pot roast looks great! Thanks for posting. x

  19. That pumpkin pie looked so yummy!

    My strawberries are all the sudden perking right up and looking big and healthy with just a few berries on it. But there are 3-4 different ones so I am sure they are not all producing! I like the idea of summer berries! Your's look beautiful!

  20. Hidinginmygarden, You're welcome ;-)


    Shawn Ann, the pie went home with my grandson, and Mr. H is still complaining because he didn't get a slice. He already ate two pumpkin pies, I think he can wait for another time. Anyway, today I'm making a fresh strawberry pie with the other pie dough.