Favorite Season


My absolute favorite part of summer is starting: tomato season. The garden is bursting with fresh tomatoes on the vine. This year I planted three varieties in the garden. Roma for cooking and canning, grape for salads and snacks, and some heirloom- I went with black zebras- for sandwiches, BLTs, and general consumption. Ready to gorge myself until the season is over and then will dream about next year.

My Perfect Tomato Sandwich

1 slice of bread, preferably crusty whole wheat or French.

1 garden fresh tomato


Sea salt

Lightly toast bread, smear with mayo, top with slices of tomato and lightly sprinkle with salt.Enjoy!

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I’ve already gathered some peppers and one smaller zucchini previously, but it looks like he garden is starting to really kick in gear after all this rain and hot, humid weather.

Pretty soon it’ll be time to dust off the canning gear, I can’t wait! Until then, I’ll be cooking as many garden fresh meals as my bountiful harvest allows.


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Hungry Little Man


Joseph’s been eating solids for almost 3 months now and is doing great. He’s got quite the appetite and is always happy trying something new. I’ve done purées of butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, sweet peas, and beets. We’ve also done avocado, peaches, mangos, and applesauce in addition to rice cereal.

I’ve been making all of his food myself and its surprisingly easy. Cook until soft, purée with immersion blender, and freeze in ice cube trays. I take out a couple of cubes for his dinner when I make his breakfast. Piece of cake.

I’ve also started him on some organic puffs as a first finger food. They melt in his mouth, so they’re easier to chew than Cheerios. He loves them. I’m hoping to continue to introduce some more veggies and try out some other grain cereals as well. Wondering what else I should introduce. Any suggestions?


Modest Harvest


I had grand plans of putting in a garden this year, but taking care of a newborn squashed that idea flat. I was able to get a couple of containers filled with some grape tomatoes and here’s my first harvest. I think I’ll throw a few in a salad and the rest I’ll just eat like, well, grapes.

Cookie Time


This super hot, steamy weather is not very conducive to spending a lot of time outside with Joseph, so we’ve been hiding out in the AC lately. Something we like to do ( Joe supervises) is bake. Cookies are always good because they’re easy and fairly quick. These are a go to in our house:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 a bag of chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375. Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in chocolate chips. Use teaspoon and scoop onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and let cook on baking rack. Enjoy!

TIPS: Here are a few things that I always do that I think make for a superior cookie.

  • I always use organic unsalted butter, never margarine. I think that this lends to a more mellow taste and makes for a crisp and chewy, but not greasy, cookie.
  • Try to purchase really vanilla extract, not imitation. Amazing difference!
  • I use farm fresh eggs (when I can get them) or else I buy organic. They might cost a bit more, but once you try them you will never go back.
  • Mix in flour one cup at a time and you’ll be less likely to have lumps.
  • Add the baking soda and salt to the last 1/4 cup of flour. It helps to distribute them more evenly.
  • Try using butterscotch chips instead of chocolate, yummy!

101 Things: 83. Renovate the kitchen

This is a big one to cross off the list. When we purchased this house, it was on the condition that we remodel the kitchen ASAP. It wasn’t the ugliest kitchen in the world, but it might have been one of the most non-efficient ones I’ve ever been in. You could just tell that this kitchen was for heating up frozen pizzas, not for COOKING. You know what I mean? I usually love to cook, bake, preserve, the whole she-bang. However, I lost my mojo when we moved into the house because of this kitchen. It was such a pain to do anything. No good work area, crappy stove and cook top, and the worst that there was no flow. The island was more in the way than a work hub. Terrible, I tell ya. Here’s a couple of photos of how it was before:

So, we planned on getting the kitchen done this winter. Then came the exciting new we were pregnant again. Should we go ahead with our plans or wait? Would it get done in time? Shawn and I decided to go for it and get it done no matter what. Our thinking: Would we rather do this now or after the baby arrived? I did NOT want to deal with construction and an infant at the same time, nor did I want to have this turn into a “someday” project where I would have to suffer on with this inoperable kitchen. Full steam ahead!

We found an amazing contractor with Collamore Built. Justin and his team were amazing. I can’t say enough of how great a job they did or how pleasant the process was. I already know that we’ll be working with them in the future for some other renovation projects. (Master bathroom and the basement are already on the list.) Here are some more “after” photos so you can see all the details.

Happy 100th Birthday, Oreo!

On this day in 1912, the National Biscuit Company sold its first Oreo cookies to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey. Today Oreos are the best selling cookies in the world and are sold in over 100 countries.

And still sinfully delicious after all these years. I raise my glass of milk to you. Cheers!


Good Lord, I’d give my right arm right now for an apple cider slushie! Oh that nectar of the gods haunts me now. Sadly going to miss apple picking this year at Sunrise Apple Farm and the sweet heaven that is the Gays Mills Apple Festival. Hoping that I’ll be able to find a place here in Ohio that has Honeycrisp apples. So good!.

Pesto Season

With all of the hot weather and daily storms, my basil has been growing at a truly amazing rate. To celebrate this herbal abundance, I decided to make my first batch of pesto this summer. I do not understand people who purchase pre-made pesto, it is truly the easiest thing in the world to make. Seriously, you can whip up a batch before your pasta is ready. Plus, you can freeze the extra (try doing it in ice cube trays!) for future use. The recipe I use is from Mark Bittman’s ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’ -if you do not have this cook book go buy it, amazing!

Traditional Pesto
2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 clove or more garlic
2 tbs pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
1/2 freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or other hard cheese

Combine basil with pinch of salt, garlic, nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.

Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Store in the fridge or freezer. STip in the Parmesan by hand just before serving.

Strawberry Jam Recipe

Yesterday I talked a little bit about our Strawberry Adventure ’11 and thought that I’d follow up and share the jam recipe that Roz and I use. It’s a classic strawberry jam recipe that really allows the berries to shine. We usually double the recipe (this year we made two double batches) but if you don’t have a load of berries or don’t want to commit to a ton of jam, the single recipe is perfect for you.

Strawberry Jam
(makes about eight 8-ounce jars)

5 cups crushed hulled strawberries
(about 31/2 lbs or 10 cups of whole strawberries yield 5 cups crushed)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 box (1.75 oz) regular powdered fruit pectin
7 cups granulated sugar, divided

1. Prepare canning jars and lids and bring water bath canner to a boil.

1. In a 8 quart stainless steel stockpot, combine strawberries and lemon juice.

1. In a small bowl, combine pectin and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Gradually stir into fruit.

1. Bring fruit mixture to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the remaining sugar. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, and boil for one minute.

1. Remove pot from hear and skim off any foam. Let jam cool in the pot for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

1. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Center hot lids on jars and screw on bands until fingertip-tight.

1. Place jars in canner, making sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Process 4 oz and 8 oz jars for 10 minutes: process 1 pint jars for 15 minutes.

1. Remove jars from canner and place on a wire rack or cloth towel. Let cool for 24 hours, then check seals. Wash and dry jars and store in a cool, dry, dark location.

If you are not familar with the canning process, I recommend looking here or here.

Original recipe from Linda J. Amendt