Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Let's Salsa

Since I have no idea how to dance the salsa, I'm quite content on just canning salsa. Over the years I've tried three different recipes. Each one had its own merits, but each one also had its own downfalls. One had the right amount of heat, but to much vinegar. One was chock full of added spices, but too much sugar. The last thickened nicely, but I didn't like the overall flavor. So this year I called up a friend that makes the same recipe year after year and compared her recipe to my recipes. Finally I decided on which ingredients to use and which to omit. Here is the final recipe. Definitely has some heat, not too vinegary or sugary and nicely spiced with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and pepper.

My Salsa
8-9 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes with all juice

2 c. chopped onion

2 1/2 - 3 c. diced green pepper (frozen)

1 - 1 1/2 c. diced jalapeno (frozen)

3/4 c. white vinegar

1 1/2 T. canning salt

1 t. garlic powder

1 T. sugar

1 T. chili powder

1/4 t. cumin

1 t. black pepper

Simmer all ingredients for 2 full hours, uncovered to reduce juice. Ladle into pint jars. Seal. Hot water bath for 10 minutes.

**Now the reason I noted if the veggies were frozen is because they measure differently. My peppers are always ready before my tomatoes so Warren and I work those up and freeze. I packed the green peppers tightly before freezing so if you are using fresh peppers you might want to go with the full 3 cups or even a little more. As for the jalapenos I packed those loosely in a cottage cheese container before freezing and then measured out 1 1/2 cups of frozen jalapenos. However if you use fresh jalapenos they will pack tighter so I would recommend using only 1 c.

Yield 5 pints + 1/4 cup extra for tasting

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer In All Its Glory

Last week it was so hot and humid we spent quite a bit of time at the sandpit swimming. See that mosquito on Little J's face...those could go away anytime.

Amber and Sam ran the Swiftwater kid's race. Both finished hard.

Little J enjoying movie popcorn before it becomes bear bait.

Little J's 2nd birthday - celebrated with Grandma.

Yum! Frosting!
Jake enjoying a ear of sweet corn.

The cranberries are sizing nicely and just beginning to blush.

Brothers out for a morning walk.

Watching dad work.

I'm starting to see signs of late summer. Goldenrod plumes are browning as are the grass seed heads. I've seen a few tamaracks coloring and the woods has lost its high summer greenery. The greens are slightly dull and the maples have a few crimson leaves. So I'll be making the most of this last third of summer we have left and I hope you do to.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Zucchini

The zucchini plants are still producing. Seems I can pick at least 1 a day which doesn't sound like a lot, but it takes a bit of creativity to use a zucchini a day. Quickly the counter top is covered with 6 or 7 zucchini of various sizes. Another garden growing blogger has a few ideas to share.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Homeschool Planning Idea

Ideas run like water from my mind daily and if I don't write them down they might be lost forever. Last year I started a Homeschool Idea Notebook. Every time I had an idea of something to do or found a website with an interesting idea I grabbed my notebook and jotted it down. Quickly I had acquired a full page of ideas such as:

make sun prints
write letters to grandparents
bake lollipop cookies
do egg/vinegar experiment
make paper weavings
work in cursive workbook
read a few Grimm fairy tales

I had this long list and great intentions, but after completing the day's work little time was left for extras that didn't fit into any particular area of study. I hated to let these ideas remain as just a list so I looked at our schedule and found our least busy day. Each week on that day I'd tell the kids which subject we would be skipping - we varied it to keep our studies even - and what activity would be in its place. This worked well for us until I let it slide. The kids liked the idea of doing something completely different with out any strings attached. We simply completed the activity and it was done - no notebooking or adding it to any binders. I've been collecting ideas over the summer and have another full page and grand intentions of keeping this going throughout the school year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Keeping it Fresh

Sam started reading a few early readers in kindergarten this last year. He's bright and extremely active. Often it's difficult to rein in his enthusiasm for reading. See, it happens to be of utmost importance to remain somewhat still when reading, therefore our sessions are typically very short. And this summer....we've completely let it go. I still read multiple books a day to him; he's just not reading anything to me. But today he ran across his basket of Bob Books and brought two of them to me wondering if he could read to me. Of course, I jumped (well sat calmly) at the idea of him reading to me, knowing how important it is to keep things fresh in the minds of young learners. He sat somewhat still, changing only his leg position multiple times. His hands gripping the book, he read the words: Mat. Mat sat. He turned the pages without starting a conversation with me or standing up or asking to go to the bathroom or a snack. It was a blissful 8 minutes of reading with him. Reading is the toughest thing you'll ever love teaching your child.

Two Things We've Been Enjoying

Baby Signing Time with Rachel Carson - Wanting to start reading the Anne of Green Gables series, I put on this video for Little J tonight. Everyone in the house was singing along. We all agreed that no matter what we're doing Baby Signing Time draws us in. Even Warren, armed with a new Deer and Deer Hunting, couldn't help putting it down for The Diaper Dance. Gotta love a DVD that has something for the whole family. *Click on the Diaper Dance link and listen to a bit of the song*

Amazing Machines Truckload of Fun Book Set - This set of 10 little books is great for the young child interested in vehicles of all kinds. Includes books on: tractors, airplanes, boats, cars and many others. Sam loves these books. He's 6 and probably at the top end of the age range. I'd recommend them for children as young as two. The rhyming rhythm entertains the littles, while the fairly detailed info keeps the older ones coming back for more.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Using Up the Zucchini

Last year I planted 3 seeds, this year only 2. Still the zucchini is overwhelming. I grilled one medium zucchini last week, brushed with oil and sprinkled with salt/pepper. Good. Not our favorite. My absolute favorite recipe combines zucchini, cranberries and nutmeg with a little (a lot) of sugar. I found the recipe at another blog last August and have made it numerous times. If you don't have a freezer full of cranberries just shred and freeze your zucchini and then make this in October when cranberries are in season.