Canning a little bit of summer

Rosesareblue asked,

did you do an old post on how you did those cherry tomatoes in the oven and then Canned them? If not you should give us a post on that.

An oblong mesh egg basket full of small tomatoes in red, yellow and green
Just-picked tomatoes, stems, dried leaves, dirt, and all

So here we go, with the steps I use, here. Where I live.

How come these tomatoes are all so small? We live at nearly 44 N in a cold place, so our growing season is really short. Our theoretical last date of frost is June 1. This year we had a frost on June 20. The theoretical first frost date is September 24. We haven’t had one yet, but it could happen any day. So we grow things that ripen fast, and that means little grape and cherry tomatoes. And we are picking ALL of them when there is threat of frost, even the green ones. We just keep harvesting them until the plants die. Someday I’m building a passive solar greenhouse. But until then, we’re stuck with short-season varieties.

A double sink with two strainers, a bowl full of tomatoes and water and a small metal tray

I prefer to work as efficiently as possible (it leaves more time to do funner things like knitting). So I wash, sort, and de-stem them all in one step.

The bowl of water is empty.  The small tray contains stems and rejected tomatoes.  One strainer has cracked tomatoes, the other has intact tomatoes

I use my salad spinner basket and bowl in case the water is especially dirty; that way I can swish them around, lift them out in the basket, and re-rinse in clean water.

Cracked or punctured fruit are put to one side for immediate use. Ones that are squishy little water balloons are rejected into the compost, along with the stems, dried leaves, grass, etc. Nice firm fruit with intact skins are put into a bigger basket to drain. They will last another day or two, if this batch is too big to process in one go, or if something comes up and I have to postpone baking and canning.

A close-up of cracked and punctured fruits, which otherwise look good (not mushy)
Cracked fruits need to be used immediately

Next I grab a handy baking dish, drizzle olive oil in the bottom, and cut each of the cracked fruits in half, and toss into the baking dish. A few small hot peppers also got picked so I cut them into small pieces and tossed them in, as well.

A counter holds a scale reading “17g” with an olive oil dispenser on it, a 4-qt round casserole dish with olive oil, small bits of red pepper, and the cracked tomatoes sliced in half.  There is a cutting board and paring knife.  A colander of intact fruit waits to be sliced

When about half of the tomatoes have been sliced, I sprinkle some salt and black pepper on top, then finish slicing the rest of the fruit.

The scale now holds a small salt box and reads “-5g”.  There is salt and pepper sprinkled on the pile of sliced tomatoes in the casserole dish.  The colander is about half full of the remaining tomatoes

The last step before baking is to weigh the whole thing, dish and all, so I know how much raw tomato went into the batch. This will be important later for logging into my food tracker, and estimating any additional salt needed for the canning step.

  • Baking dish = 1106g
  • Olive oil = 17g
  • Salt = 5g
  • Total weight = 2968g
  • So the tomatoes & peppers = 1840g
The filled casserole dish sits on the scale, which reads, “2968g”.

I stick the uncovered dish into the oven, and bake for 3 hours at 300F. This oven only does a max of 2 hours, so we’ll do that and then one additional hour, stirring in between.

An open convection toaster oven with the casserole dish inside.  The display reads, “300F, convection, 2:00”
A close-up of the display, now reading, “150C, convection, 2:00”
For people on a more sensible measuring system, my Australian toaster oven (Breville) says 300F is approximately 150C.

Since this is an off-grid operation, double check to make sure we have sufficient electricity. Yup, more is coming in than going out, even with the oven on and thick clouds, so we’re good to go. ✅

A solar inverter / controller display showing 1.6 kWcoming in and 1.4 kW going out, battery at 95%
The casserole dish showing tomatoes starting yo dehydrate and roast
After an hour the tomatoes on top are starting to shrivel. Stir them under. In this case I added a batch I’d roasted but not yet canned, and returned the dish to the oven for more roasting.
Now the tomatoes on top are nicely browned and shriveled
After 3 hours the tops are nicely browned. Stir them under to distribute the flavor.
A small spatula is wiping down the bathtub ring of browned tomato juice around the edge of the dish
Stir in the browned, concentrated juice along the sides.

This is a good stopping point if you are busy and want to finish tomorrow, or just freeze the tomatoes.

If you want to can them now, return the dish to a 300F oven and prepare your canning setup:

  • Clean jars with matching canning lids (check them first)
  • Salt
  • A big pot of boiling water to serve as your water bath, with a lid
  • A large mouth funnel
  • A ladle
  • A dish to set the hot drippy ladle and funnel on, between jars
  • Plenty of hotpads

Fill the pot up halfway and start the water boiling. When it’s at a rolling boil, you’re ready to fill the jars.

Put 1-2 tablespoons of salt in the bottom of each jar and use the ladle and funnel to fill each jar one by one, capping tightly when the tomatoes are 1-2cm from the top. Place the filled jar in your waterbath.

One jar is already in the water bath.  The second is being filled. A third stands waiting

When you have all the jars in the water bath, put the lid back on the pot and keep it boiling for 20 minutes.

A big stock pot halfway full of boiling water holds three 1-qt jars of tomatoes.
I took the lid off so you can see the jars, but the lid should be on during the 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take each jar out one by one and test the lid to make sure it is tight. Turn upside down and cool on a hotpad.

Three upside-down quart jars, sitting on hotpads

When they are cool you can label and store them. A little taste of summer to add to recipes when fresh tomatoes aren’t available 🙂

Three right-side-up quart jars of canned tomatoes, ready to put into the pantry

Sock update: Tomorrow I start the heels!

A sock is stretched on a cardboard foot outline.  The live edge with the cable reaches a line near the heel.  A blurry black and white cat is rubbing his cheek against the sock.

Round 4 of the “Get back to Goal” challenge has started…

A chart of the participants' percentage of starting weight along the Y axis, and dates along the X axis.  Everyone was at 100% on 8/4/21.  By 10/10/21 some had ranged as high as 102.5% and as low as 91.5%
Look how well everyone did in Round 3!

Round 4 of the “Get back to Goal” challenge just started! forms.gle/NYrS68bMKttaZcis7

It is all about reinforcing healthy habits, with weight loss and stabilization as result, not necessarily a reason. Super low key. Check in whenever you feel like it. 🙂

A silhouette of a maple leaf filled in with 70's appliance colors of these words: Blankie!
Free
Mushrooms
Recovery
Tucson
Wide
Here’s a word art of our entries, so far, to get us started

Not Cowboy Cookies

A toaster-oven sized pizza pan with 11 slightly-browned crunchy, seedy cookies on it.

In our maintenance Google group we have a, “What’s Cookin, Good Lookin’?” thread, and Katie3908 shared that she had made “Cowboy Cookies.” I never heard of these so I asked for a URL and she provided one.

I thought I had all of the ingredients when I began making these, but I was wrong and had to do on-the-fly substitutions (bad pantry management. Oops). So these are, “Not Cowboy Cookies.” 😂

Although they have eggs, the coconut in them reminds me a little of Anzac Biscuits. Here is what is actually in what I made (screenshots from the LoseIt app)

A screenshot of a food tracker app, which says the following:
Not Cowboy Cookies (1141g)
265g whole wheat flour
6g baking soda
4g baking powder
3g salt
74g butter
285g sugar
24g molasses
Ingredients continued (I wish this stupid app had a better way yo share recipes!)

74g butter
150g eggs
1t vanilla (forgot to write down the weight. D’oh!)
136g flax seeds
59g bittersweet chocolate chips
118g unsweetened dry coconut
130g dried sweetened cranberries

These have minimal chocolate chips, no rolled oats, and no nuts. Instead they have unsweetened coconut, flax seeds, and dried cranberries. I used home-ground whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, decreased the butter a little, and cut the sugar by 30%. They still seem awfully sweet, so I think next time I’ll cut the sugar to half what the original recipe called for. I had trouble sticking them together so I used 3 eggs instead of two.

Screenshot showing nutrition

For one 28g cookie, you get:

126 calories 
5.8g fat
2.9g saturated fat
17.7 mg cholesterol 
132.8 mg sodium
17.5g carbs
2.3 g fiber
10.5 g sugar
2.4 g protein
An overhead shot of a tin of crunchy seedy browned irregular cookies

H pronounced them, “good,” so they are serving their intended purpose, whatever you want to call them. 😉

PS. We have LOTS of steel cut oats, but no rolled, that I could find. So I finally broke down and bought a flake mill to go with my stand mixer.

Sock update: The toes are finally starting to look like something.

Two sock toes on a pair of circular needles.  One of the toes has a stitch marker pinned to it, and one of the needle tips has a sewing thread knotted through the lifeline hole at its base.
Two cats are sitting, facing a door (out of view), looking back over their shoulders at the photographer.  They are bith wearing little gray sweaters, knit out of nasty fake mohair.  They do not seem concerned about the sweaters, and look impatient to be let into the attic, to look for Mice.
Bonus photo for Barb (OKM). Yes, those are little cat sweaters. On cats.

The white kitty is in a sampler I knit to learn how to construct a gansey. The orange kitty is in a gansey I made later, because I wanted to see if I could do the first gansey better, for the way a cat is shaped (has to do with arm position)

October Maintenance Anniversaries!

A Keith Harring type cartoon of multicolored stylized people supporting each other in a pyramid, with the one on the top reaching for the sun

This is the second month we’ve had maintenance anniversaries to announce, and no SP to announce it on… It’s sad to think that many of the people on the Hall of Fame won’t see us celebrating their anniversary anymore when it comes around, since so few have provided a URL or place to find them. So, besides announcing it on the Maintenance group, I’ll be posting an announcement here, and at MFP.

If you happen to see this and are in touch with former Sparkers elsewhere*, such as on FB, or MFP, your blog, or any other place online, please feel free to copy and re-post, to spread the word! (It helps to include a link to the Hall of Fame so that people will know where to go, if they would like to update their information 🙂)

*And if those folks have a visible online profile anywhere, please encourage them to update their maintenance info to include a URL, so the rest of us can congratulate them! ❤️

Congratulations to our October maintainers! 

Maintenance Hall of Fame: tinyurl.com/Hall-of-Maintainers

To get onto this list or update your information, go here: tinyurl.com/My-Maintenance-Anniversary

These are important milestones!

  • Among people who have just reached goal, the likelihood of regain is 80%+ to 95% (various sources).
  • Among people who have maintained for 2 years the likelihood of regain in the group drops to 50%.*
  • Among people who have maintained for 5 years the likelihood of regain in the group drops to 27%!*

+ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.abstract

*clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/3/100.full

And don’t forget, we have lots of maintenance information and advice collected in our Big Page of (maintenance) Links. Our most valuable maintenance resource, however, is our dedicated group* of real, live, Maintainers and Aspiring Maintainers! 😀

*This group is agnostic with regard to tracker and/or fitness platform. Our members are using: LoseIt, MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, FatSecret, MyNetDiary, 1st Phorm, etc. We encourage folks to use whatever works best for them, personally. The main thing is having the support of other people who get what it’s like, to be in this for the long haul. 💖

Just checking in

Wow. Has it really been so long since I posted something other than maintenance anniversaries? Time is flying, although I’m not entirely sure I’ve been having fun, exactly. LOL

I’ve been trying to hold steady here, through our fall harvest (tomatoes, especially, are being canned and dried and eaten as fast as we can pick them)

A tray full of shiny red and yellow tomatoes of various sizes abd shapes
A baking tray showing a thick layer of face-up halved tomatoes in the process of drying
Vanna White sitting on a bench, looking through chicken wire at a tray of sliced tomatoes drying in the sun

I’ve been knitting stuff, including learning fisherman’s rib

A cowl knit in the round, using a pattern from here: https://www.happyknitter.club/2018/12/foliage-scarf.html

and brioche,

A dishcloth swatch of “honeycomb” brioche, learned from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QIQI8xYxEu0

trying out an idea for a lizard ridge mobius cowl,

Vanna white (cat) curled in a little ball on the corner of an ottoman. A knit cowl takes up most of the rest of the space.  It is half and half mustard dishcloth yarn and variegated autumn colors.  If you look closely, you can see that the origin is in the middle with the knit growing one side, and purl on the other.  There are short-row “bumps” because it is Lizard Ridge pattern

and revisiting the ballband dishcloth, just because.

The “front” side of a 34-stitch ballband dishcloth with black interstices and a fall ombre yarn forming the “bricks.”
Continue reading Just checking in

September Maintenance Anniversaries!

A Keith Harring type cartoon of multicolored stylized people supporting each other in a pyramid, with the one on the top reaching for the sun

This is the first month we’ve had maintenance anniversaries to announce, and no SP to announce it on…

It saddens me to know that many of the people on the Hall of Fame won’t see us celebrating their anniversary when it comes around, since few have provided a URL or place to find them. So I’ll try a few things besides announcing it on the Google group, including posting an announcement here.

If you happen to see this and are in touch with former Sparkers elsewhere*, such as on FB, or MFP, or any other place, please feel free to copy and re-post, to spread the word!

*And if they have a visible profile at this -elsewhere-, please encourage them to update their maintenance info to include a URL to it, so anyone else on that platform can also congratulate them! ❤️

Congratulations to our September maintainers! 

Maintenance Hall of Fame:

tinyurl.com/Hall-of-Maintainers

To get onto this list or update your information, go here:

tinyurl.com/My-Maintenance-Anniversary

These are important milestones!

– The likelihood of regaining weight when you reach goal is 80%+ to 95% (various sources).
– When you’ve maintained for 2 years the likelihood of regain drops to 50%.*
– When you’ve maintained for 5 years the likelihood of regain drops to 27%!*

+ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.abstract

*clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/3/100.full

And don’t forget, we have lots of maintenance information and advice collected in our Big Page of (maintenance) Links.

Our most valuable maintenance resource, however, is our dedicated group* of real, live Maintainers and Aspiring Maintainers! 😀

*This group is agnostic with regard to tracker and/or fitness platform. Our members are using: LoseIt, MFP, Cronometer, FatSecret, MyNetDiary, 1st Phorm, etc. We encourage folks to use whatever works best for them, personally. The main thing is having the support of other maintainers, people who get what it’s like, to be in this for the long haul. 💖

Stride math

After being gypped 0.2 miles on Friday (my Vivofit3 counting steps vs his Forerunner45 using GLONASS+GPS), I started trying to figure out how to get a more accurate estimate for my stride.

Unfortunately Garmin doesn’t report the steps per activity, at least for a Vivofit3. But it does have the ability to display steps during an activity. (Note – the settings make it look like you can choose to see both estimated distance AND steps on the little screen but toggling “activity distance” *on* in practice toggles “activity steps” *off*, and vice versa.)

So, *armed* with this knowledge (pun partially intended) and with the Vivofit3 set to display steps, H and I took a walk together, clocking “start” simultaneously and pausing at the end long enough for the Vivofit3 to catch up with its step count:

His wristband showing 1.07 miles, hers showing 2547 steps.​

There. Now we have a more accurate distance, coupled with the step count the Vivofit3 clocked. (The Vivofit3 thinks we only went 0.92 miles 😡)

The Connect phone app will calculate stride but it needs the distance in feet. so we do a conversion.

Conversion app showing 1.07 miles equals 5649.6 ft

Technically I could have converted to km and m, but this is Amurika, where we continue to insist on using an outdated pre-Napoleonic system of measurement that pretty much the rest of the world has wisely abandoned decades ago. Don’t get me started on that…

Garmin app with 5650 ft and 2547 steps plugged in, showing a stride length of 2.22​ ft

So now, as soon as Garmin resolves its outage 🙄, I can upload my stride to my Vivofit3 and get proper credit for my distances. At least for 1 mi walks on level dirt roads… LOL All bets are off if the walks are longer and I’m tired or going up a grade. 😏 By the time that will matter, I’ll be ready for my own gps tracker.

Caterpillars and Badges

View of a bog bathed in yellow afternoon light, framed by trees

This one is inspired by ALICIA363. Here are my badges and caterpillars! 😁

Garmin likes to gameify incentives to move and we could get a “point” for earning a “badge” for doing a 3-mile “walk” this weekend. I need two “points” to go from “level 2” to “level 3.” (Can you tell from my quotes I’m a looking a little askance at this gamification stuff? LOL). Still, it got me out there, so there’s that.

Garmin “badge” earned for doing a 3 mile “walking activity” this weekend.

So I decided to go for it. I haven’t walked that far all at once in a long while. And I only really started walking much at all again, in February.

Chart showing my weekly step totals over the past year.  From a low of about 8K around January, dramatically increasing in February, up to a maximum if around 38K in May.

So it was going to be a challenge but I suspected I could manage it. I was right.

Along the way there was a lot of milkweed. Instead of looking for frass on the ground, I just looked for chewed leaves. And once we started seeing that, there were monarch caterpillars EVERYWHERE!

Monarch caterpillar on the underside of an upturned chewed milkweed leaf
Another caterpillar picture .
If you look really closely you might notice this is the same caterpillar from the previous picture but in a different pose because i accidentally bumped it!
Close-up of a different caterpillar near some milkweed pods, looking like it’s thinking of making a chrysalis

It’s pretty scenic in places, too. I was glad we brought bug swatters because the mosquitoes were pretty thick in some places, and every once in a while a deer fly would buzz above my left ear. I had one following me like that for a quarter mile, before I got it.

I also discovered that my stride must be set wrong on my vivofit. H was along too, and his Forerunner has GPS. His watch says we went 3.37 miles. The vivofit (which just counts steps) says we went 3.17 miles. I have some math to do!

Overall, not a bad excursion. A little sore, but in a good way. And I got to see stuff. 😀

Update: DOVESEYES’ comment intrigued me. I had no idea there were monarchs in Oz and NZ!

Monarch distribution map from Wikipedia

How to comment on a WordPress blog

Eileen (BROOKLYN_BORN) has requested instructions for commenting on this blog. So I opened up Microsoft Edge, and and took some screenshots of the process, the way it will look for someone who is not logged into a browser. Hope this helps!

First, navigate to the blog of interest. Click on the title of the post you want to read / comment on.

When the blog post is open, scroll down to the comments section, which will start with, “X (number) of thoughts on [Post title]”

If there are already comments, you may need to scroll further, down to the bottom of the comment section

You’re in the right place when you see, “Leave a Reply” and a box for entering text

As soon as you start typing in the comment box, options for identifying yourself will appear.

You can click the WordPress, Google, Twitter, or Facebook icons to use your identity on one of those platforms. Note that those of you using Blogger/Blogspot will by definition have Google accounts, since Google runs that platform. You may find that you’re already logged into Google as yourself in your browser because of this, and some fields might already be filled in.

If you are logged into any of those platforms, you will see a note underneath the comment box telling you which account you’re currently logged in as, and giving you the option to log out and/or enter the fields manually, by clicking “Change”.

If you’re not currently logged into any of those platforms listed, you can manually fill in your email, name, and blog URL. You also have the option to subscribe to any other comments on this post, or to the blog as a whole. (Either with the check box on the left, or the “Follow” box on the right).

When you are finished typing in your comment and choosing any subscription options, click “POST COMMENT.”

After you click “POST COMMENT,” the owner of the blog will receive a notification to approve your comment. Currently this blog is set to only require approval the first time someone comments, after that, comments will appear immediately. If your comment requires approval, you’ll get a notification of that.

Once the comment is approved, it’ll show up in the normal way with all of the others.