Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Totally Tomatoes

The garden is winding down - there are a few tomatoes and cukes hanging on, but for the most part the big summer harvest is over.   In some ways I'm really ready for fall.  I've pulled out my warm clothes, I'm ready for The Woodsman to start making fires, I've got my crock pot soup recipes in the recipe file, and I'm definitely ready for the gnats to die.  But, saying goodbye to fresh tomatoes from the garden is difficult.  It's the end of the season and I'm still remembering recipes that I want to make and others that I want to repeat.  Just in case you need some ideas for your end of the summer tomatoes here are some non-recipe recipes for the last of your tomato harvest. 
Sungold, Black Cherry, Chelsea and Sweet Million

Tomato Corn Cups (created by Lily)

Put guacamole, corn and a cherry tomato in scoop type tortilla chips.  Makes a wonderful summer appetizer - and kids enjoy making them.


Toss bread cubes, chopped tomatoes, chopped cukes, mozzarella cheese chunks, basil and garlic with a simple red wine vinegar and oil mixture.  Stir and eat.

 Fancy Sliced Tomatoes

Layer in this order - tomatoes, onion slices, balsalmic drizzle, olive oil drizzle, salt, pepper and basil chiffonades.  Repeat.
Also on the plate - Quickles and Ratatouille over Polenta


Put big slices of heirloom tomatoes on a platter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Place slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on top. 

Roasted Tomatoes

Cut tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in a 325 oven until they are a bit dried out.  Stack in a canning jar alternating with basil leaves.  Fill jar with olive oil.  Keeps for months in the fridge.

Canning Season Comes to a Close

With the exception of the Applesauce Party at the farm in two weeks I'm done canning for the season.  I've put the canner away and I think I'll finally scrub the floor - it just might stay clean for a while.  In the past few weeks I've made spaghetti sauce, fermented Kosher Dills, V-8 juice, whole canned tomatoes, grape maple syrup and banana pepper honey mustard.  The canning cupboard and freezer are fully stocked - I'm hoping for a hard winter with lots of snow (and snow days). 

Other Processing Odds and Ends

I had a bumper crop of Red Peppers.  This is the first year I can remember that I haven't needed to buy any at the farmer's market.  I have an abundance of roasted red peppers in the freezer - they're going to provide some of summer's warmth in winter soups and pizzas.  We also had a decent root crop - the sweet potatoes, carrots and potatoes are all in the root cellar.  I'm letting the beets and turnips grow for a while yet - they like this cool weather.  I love all the varied colors in the fall.  It's a feast for the eye as well as the mouth.

Back to School

We're a month into school and everyone has settled into their classes and the fall routine.  Life is good.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A week apart

I'm still working my way through all of the posts I meant to put up this summer. 
Did you send your kids to camp this summer?  You know, in some ways, it's the longest week of the year.  I miss them so, very, very much.  There are really only two weeks out of the year when we have absolutely no contact with them - camp week, and the week they go camping with my parents.  If I were a more selfish person I wouldn't let them go.  The house is quiet and quite empty while they're gone. 
But oh, when you see them again and they have a hundred million things to tell you.  And they speak their own language (because it's camp lingo that you just don't share).  And they still - months later - break into God songs at all times.  I'm so glad they go.
Camp shaped who I am today.  I grew as a person and I grew in my faith because of my counselors, and then later because of the counseling I did with my own campers.  Camp brought me The Woodsman - if someone loves you even when you come back in after a week long out trip they'll love you forever.  I learned to be independent at camp.  I refined my wilderness skills and increased my confidence.  We also made some lasting friendships - really camp people become family.
I'm so thankful for the young men and women who choose to spend their summers nurturing the small flame of faith in my children, and in all of their other campers.  Can't wait to send them back next summer.
Caroline Furnace Former Staff (back row) and Future Staff (front row)

Love these people... I'm in the second row third from left (I think I look pretty much the same).  The Woodsman is in the back row (the only other one with a beard).  You know, he's a lot the same too. 

Pure joy on this face during the closing worship on pick up day.

A counselor she'll remember (and love) forever. 

I think this pose and face were part of their post camp dance routine which involved something called "The Cheese Stick Song" 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Old Rag

We spend a lot of time at Shenandoah National Park.  One of our favorite spots in the park is an overlook of Old Rag.  For at least a year, our eldest has been asking to hike Old Rag.  This summer, The Woodsman and The Girl finally went.  Our youngest had absolutely no desire to do this hike.  I wasn't the least bit disappointed.  I love to hike, and I'm not afraid of doing some huffing and puffing to get to the top of a steep slope, but Old Rag is more rock than trail.  My heart was in my throat most of the time they were gone - why is it that mother's has such keen (and bloody) imaginations -, but I'm glad they went.  I know what a wonderful bonding experience it can be to hit a difficult trail with your Dad.  This hike is a memory they'll share forever.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Goodbye Summer Serenity.... Hello Frenetic Fall

On my way home tonight I saw some beautiful maples changing color, and I realized that summer is really very close to an exit.  So before the days slip into October let me share our summer trips.

New York, NY

This spring, while helping Lily clean her room I discovered several "run away" bags.  They were packed with the essentials in case a quick get away was needed.  I'm sure that some parents would have been horrified.  I, however, understood.  I think we all need our own version of a run away bag.  For years my version has been the ability to get on a train, leave my family behind and head to Manhattan.   
This summer, after many promises that they really, truly were old enough, and a great deal of apprehension on my part - I let the rest of my family (The Woodsman and both kids) run away with me. 
They entertained themselves on the train.  They were quiet when our host was sleeping in the morning - even though they were full of energy and ready to hit the town.  They coped well with walking many, many city blocks (even when they were carrying luggage).  They listened to directions, stayed close to us, walked properly in crowds, and held our hands when we deemed it necessary (even though the 10 year old really felt too old for hand holding).  They even passed restaurant behavior 101, and learned how important it is to stay back from the curb while waiting to cross the road - an impressive skill for children who live on the kind of Mayberry dirt road which invites dogs to nap in the middle.  Props have to go to The Woodsman here too.  This was his first trip to NYC; he does not hold deep affection for big cities, but by the end of our trip he was navigating like he'd been to the city a dozen times before.

Half of a GIANT Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwich at The Carnegie Deli

The view of Central Park - half way up 30 Rock,

On our way in to see Wicked

 Going to NYC also expanded my kid's worlds.  We read a lot, and we travel a lot.  However, most of our adventures take place in the great outdoors.  Traveling to NYC put my family in an entirely new kind of wilderness.  I can't even begin to list all of the cultural experiences the kids absorbed.  There are so... many... different... people.  From Japanese tourists, to young talented street performers... From women in saris, to homeless men on the street....  From illegal corner watch salesmen, to mourners at the 9.11 memorial.  Their world is bigger because we spent a week in Manhattan. 
View of Manhattan from the New York Water Taxi Tour

Lady Liberty (our host, tour guide extraordinaire and my best friend from high school is in the back)

Outside of Jekyll and Hyde - a MUST if you're taking kids to NYC.  I love how the bossy older sister and the silly younger brother personalities shine through so clearly in this picture.  She was trying to get him to PAY ATTENTION AND LOOK AT MOMMY!

The fountain in Central Park

Coq au Vin at Rue 57 - I can't even begin to describe the joy of this dish.   I tasted as good as it looks.  Can you smell it?  Intoxicating isn't it?
 They fell in love with New York.  And, to my surprise, I fell in love with having them there with me.  Lily is already planning a birthday trip (a full day at the Museum of Natural History with dinner at Jekyll and Hyde), and I think Danny is still dreaming about the Pastrami.  I guess in the future, we'll be running away together.
Neil and Norma - our new favorite dogs


We ended our summer like we always do - playing in the surf and sand at Assateague National Sea Shore.
Sunrise - doesn't it look like the sun beam is coming right from his heart?

Kite flying - Hooray!  He could do it himself this year.

This is where she was for 80% of the time.

Good Bye Summer Serenity - Hello to Fall's mad rush.  I'm so thankful for you Summer.  You give us time to reconnect with ourselves and with each other.  Help us to hold the peace of a summer's day through today's busy reality.