Saturday, October 6, 2012

All things Fall.

Tuesday we ripped the garden out, the temperatures dropped below freezing, we woke up to a skiff of snow and I have been cold since.  Like chilled to the bone cold and I can't seem to warm up.  Maybe this is a sign that I'm getting older?  Naw...I think it means that although I'm a Montana girl at heart, I'm certainly not when it comes to winter.  Okay, that's more complaining.  On that lovely, sunny and warm Tuesday we harvested the garden.  I know the girls love the garden all summer long...helping plant, water and pick things, but I think taking it all out at the end is their favorite thing of all.

We had lots of pumpkins hidden in there...

And, we had some green pumpkins (or winter squash?) that we didn't plant.  We usually end up with one or two mystery items from our compost pile.

In the end we ended up with literally hundreds of tomatoes, a few lone cucumbers and pumpkins for our annual Halloween party scavenger hunt.  (Can you call it annual if last year was the first time, but you plan on doing it again this year??)

So many green tomatoes just begging for another month of sunshine and warmth!

We had equally as many red tomatoes so I had to start thinking about what the heck to do with all of them.  I have not yet gotten the courage to dabble in canning.  I've looked into it and read about.  It intrigues me, however, it still intimidates me too much to try. Last year we had some extra cherry tomatoes that we slow roasted in the oven and then simply froze in Ziploc bags that I then used throughout the winter in pastas and sauces.  I decided I would go this route again with all the romas we had.  First I sliced them in half, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with sea salt and put them in a 200-degree oven...

Ten hours later this is what I had...

Mmmmm...the ones I sampled were so delish.  Luckily I managed to just have a few and the rest made it into the freezer.  These are going to be perfect to throw into winter dishes, top on sandwiches or eat right out of the bag when we are feeling like a taste of summer.  Why bother canning when you can preserve them so easily this way?  That's just my cop out for this year...maybe next year I'll venture into canning.

Because of all the fresh veggies overflowing in our refrigerator, I spent a lot of time cooking Thursday while the girls were at school.
I feel like on days the girls are in school and I'm not working and I don't have a list of things to get done, I go to the kitchen and go a little crazy.  It settles my on loud, cupboards all open, ingredients everywhere and I just chop, bake, cook.  This day besides preserving tomatoes I made mini zucchini muffins to use up our garden zucchini, some veggie chili with some miscellaneous vegetables and corn bread from the corn we grew.  (We didn't actually grow corn, I was just on a roll there.)  The veggie chili and corn bread were so perfect for that cold evening...

The day before my cooking frenzy, I got to go on Ava's class field trip to Rocky Creek Farm.  It's a pumpkin patch here where you get hay rides, can make apple cider and see the animals.  I love getting to participate in these types of things with my girls.  The way I see it, there is a small window of time where they will want their mom to be part of their school activities.  I plan on taking advantage of it for as long as I can.  While I'm still cool enough to get to sit with Ava on the school bus to the farm and hang out with her and her friends.  

Between the pumpkin patch and the chili we were really in the fall mode.  Why not continue it by pulling out the Halloween stuff?  I've really accumulated quite the Halloween decoration collection over the years.  I take no credit, it is thanks to my mother who buys us more every year.  I don't think I've bought a decoration for Halloween.  Ever.  Yet, somehow everywhere I look in my house I see bats, spiders, witches and spooky cats.  

The girls and their best "scared" faces...

Love it.

Last year I tried to do think of fun things for the girls and I to do on Fridays when they get out of school early.  It's the one day of the week there is no homework, no activities, no worries of bedtime.  It gives me a chance to just hang with them and not worry about other things going on.  A lot of times it was going for ice cream or yogurt, doing a tea party or making something fun for snack.  Yesterday, we re-instated our "fun Fridays"  Because of the chill in the air, we traded yogurt for hot cocoa.  This one is a bonus for me cuz mama gets and afternoon Americano.

We didn't end things there.  Since the Starbucks is in Barnes & Noble the books were calling our name.  Girls grabbed some books and we settled into some story time.  I just love book stores and libraries.  I can't help it, I'm a total book nerd.  And, I can't get on board with all the Kindles and Tablets...I like the smell and feel of a real, live book.  I love that I have instilled this love into my girls as well...

Have a very happy weekend...stay warm.

Vegetarian Chili
-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
-4 cups of veggie broth
-15 ounce can of each-black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans...all rinsed and drained
-1 diced zucchini
-1/2 chopped onion
-1 chopped green pepper
-1 chopped jalapeno pepper
-2 cloves minced garlic
-2 tbls chili powder
-2 tbls oregano
-2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp coriander
-1-2 tsp hot sauce
-Salt & pepper
Combine all the above in a crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Top with sour cream and cheese.
So easy.  So delicious.

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