Slow Sauce

I made my first batch of sauce last weekend.  The tomato plants have struggled along and I needed to do something with what I had but it was not enough.  I went to a farm stand on Saturday and bought a box of “seconds” for $15 and started the 4-5 hour process of making sauce.   A friend of mine wants me to teach her how to can tomatoes so I wrote down quantities and steps this time. Usually I just do it and don’t follow a recipe however it is hard to tell someone else how much of each ingredient to have on hand!

The garlic, onions, basil, oregano, carrots, squash, eggplant, and about a third of the tomatoes are from my garden.  The purchased tomatoes and peppers come from a farm close to Gettysburg, PA so I am saying this is slow sauce.

This process takes awhile and it seems like I use a ton of pots, pans, utensils, etc so the end result is a messy kitchen.  Thank goodness the cleaning crew came on Monday though I am still finding tomato splatters in the kitchen.  The pot is 12 quarts and just eyeballing it at this point, I thought I had 8 quarts.

I finished the process on Tuesday with a hot water canning bath.  And ended up with 9 quarts, I processed 7 quarts as that is the max the canner holds. The rest will go into lasagna as requested by my son before he returns to school.

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Fresh out of the canner

Here is the recipe, documented mainly for my benefit, so maybe I can repeat it!

Tomato Sauce

  • 36 cups peeled and roughly chopped tomatoes.  These were a mixture of Brandywine, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple, Yellow, Beefsteak, Stripey and Amish Paste
  • 1/2 large chopped cayenne pepper (will cut back on this in next batch)
  • 3 large chopped green bell peppers
  • 3 large chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • I small chopped eggplant
  • 1 small chopped yellow squash

I chop everything in the food processor and then sauted it in olive oil until soft. I combined the tomatoes and vegies in the 12 quart pot to bring to a boil.  Then I added the following:  (all the measurements are estimates as I did not measure anything)

  • 6 tbls black pepper
  • 3 tbls onion powder
  • 2 tbls garlic powder
  • 2 tbls smoked paprika
  • 2 tbls cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbls white pepper
  • 1/8 cup pickling sale (no iodine)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano
  • tomato paste, added later to help thicken sauce

I brought this to a boil and then simmered it a couple of hours to reduce.

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Bright Star

Yesterday, I went with a gaggle of girlfriends to see Bright Star at the Kennedy Center.  We had lunch at Clydes of Georgetown, crab cakes again!

I have been anticipating this musical for a few months, as it combines two favorites of mine, bluegrass and a musical.  Steve Martin and Edie Brickwell wrote the story and all the music and lyrics.  I LOVE Steve Martin, and have seen him play bluegrass with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  His talents are amazing, a comedian, actor, musician, writer…  seems he hit the motherlode.

And I absolutely loved it!  The music, the sets, the actors, the story = a musical that exceeded my expectations.  I read the Wash Post’s review here and so was not expecting to be wowed.  Act 1 ended with a stunning scene that left me feeling sad and upset, even though I had figured out the ending.  No spoiler here, you will have to go see it!

One of my favorite parts was the cabin set holding the musicians that whirled around the stage with actors dancing and singing through it.  I admired the musicians and their ability to NOT be dizzy.

Bright Star closes at Kennedy Center today and moves on to Broadway.  Vanity Fair has an article on it this month here.  Enjoy!

Peace and Love

On this last day of 2015, thought I would close out the year by sending out thoughts of peace, kindness, love and compassion to all.  2015 turned out to be transformational for me, with my retirement and embarking on a second act.  That second act is still under development.  Every day I think of new and different paths I want to go running down, pursuing my new dreams.  

We are spending this New Years Eve in Baltimore, taking in the Infamous Stringdusters and Cabinet show at Rams Head live, closing a phenomenal year of music.  I haven’t posted about all the shows we attended this fall, I might follow up and do so or maybe not, and just focus on 2016 music opportunities.  

I don’t do resolutions well.  So this year I will resolve only to be more frequent with my posts.

Happy New Year! Peace and Love!

Slow and thoughtful

I noticed several good articles about retirement recently.  I guess as the end of the year approaches, folks are considering whether and when to retire.   This article from the WA Post, When retiring, think about finding fun and worthy pursuits, has good advice and things to consider BEFORE one retires.  And another article by the same columnist Rodney Brooks, One way having too much free time in retirement could backfire that is pretty upfront on the effects of spending a lot more time with your spouse!  So my husband is still working, though he works out of the house which means lots more time together.  With our new reality, I usually plan to get out of the house in the morning, running errands, going to the gym, etc, so I am out of his way.

And this article by Michelle Singletary,Why do some people retire? Its just the right time-and they want to golf resonated with my reasons for retiring. No, Im not a golfer, it was the right time for me and after careful review of our finances, we had met our goals.  I do find myself telling friends that I don’t have anything scheduled for an afternoon or day.  So different from when I worked.  Someone I just recently met for the first time asked me why I retired?  As he thought I was too young to be retired, and I answered simply – it was time.

In hindsight, we did a good job anticipating the financial implications of my retirement.  However, I acted a bit like the turtle in the photo when planning what I would do to keep busy in retirement!  I found myself ill prepared to deal with my free time and sudden lack of structure in my life.  I am adjusting, thoughtfully filling my time.   And maybe I will take up golf!

Shuttering the Government

The clock is ticking on Congress, 5 days left to get some kind of spending bill passed.  Seems most of the talking heads agree on the silliness of going through another shutdown as a minority of members of Congress continue their march in support of the shutdown.  And the key contentious point seems to be funding women’s health?! Planned parenthood doesn’t spend Federal funds on abortions and there is much debate about the truthfulness behind the video touted by Carly Fiorini.  This morning’s Post has this article, Shuttering govt costs more than keeping it open, $2 Billion more!  Then the surprise of the day with Boehner’s resignation.  Like him or not, seems he is going to fall on his sword to keep the government running and that is a good thing.

Hopefully the Pope’s grace, humility, and prayers will have at least a temporary beneficial effect on Washington.   As I have said before the costs associated with government shutdowns are high, and it hasn’t seemed to make a difference in the past.  The Federal employees and the public they serve are the ones who suffer the most.

Living

“Summertime and the living is easy” sums up my sunny season.  Not to age me however saying I think of these lyrics done by Ella-not Sublime does so.  My leisurely summer has been way different than past summers and included some firsts-like doing consulting work and acquiring a beach condo.

Fall moves into view with gardens looking dried out and weary, leaves starting to fall, and produce piling up on countertops.  The produce has provided lots of good eating and putting food up, I will make another batch of salsa and some hot pepper jam.  The fall garden got off to a rocky start, the pests almost wiped out the napa cabbage and broccoli, The snap peas are coming up, and the lettuce is trying to through the last of the summer heat.

Caught August’s full moon while at the beach on a late night stroll.  It was a very windy night, the surf was up with the tide.

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The next day proved absolutely gorgeous, low humidity, and later in the day during low tide, I took the following photo after I awoke from a long nap.

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We ended up the summer seeing Los Lobos at  The Hamilton.  It was sold out, and a great show!   And heres the setlist.  Enjoy

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  1. (The Young Rascals cover) (with “La bamba” reprise at the end)

Shutdown?!?

Not only is fall upon us but its shutdown season again.  To government workers and inside-the-beltway workers, the annual will the government shutdown or not is pretty routine.  Congress is back from their August recess and the 2 legislative items on their plate starting today are the 2016 appropriations and the Iran nuclear deal.

The whole government budget process is gladly in my rearview mirror, at least for now.  I don’t miss the uncertainty or workload associated with developing the budget and then the cottage industry around the whole shutdown process. We spent hours of staff time developing shutdown processes and designating critical personnel who remain working or on-call.  The plans detailed the process through the day leading up to shutdown through each day the shutdown continued.   There are a slew of articles in the press in the last couple of days.  Here is a recent one from the Washington Post 2015 Government shutdown.

A big part of this year’s budget process is the reappearance of sequestration after the 2 year budget deal expired.  Sequestration  will wreak havoc on agencies if re-imposed.  Agencies probe planed for spending levels at 2016 President’s budget levels and those are before sequestration.  And the impacts on programs are pretty severe also.

So stay tuned, the current wisdom is the Republicans will push through a continuing resolution, kicking the can down the road.  And it is a smelly can that won’t get better with time.