Thursday, June 21, 2012

Killing Time

That last two weeks of pregnancy always seem to drag, especially when your last child was two weeks early. I think that was just luck because right now I feel like I will be pregnant forever.

Meanwhile I've been finding things to pass the time. Today my dad and I took the kids to a local farm to pick tomatoes so that we could can them. I've never canned tomatoes before. It's something my grandmother did every year, so I thought I'd carry on the tradition. I'm sure she would be proud. I don't know if we did it her way, but we tried. I Googled it and found a method on our state's university extension program's website.

Here is our day in pictures:
 We picked 60 tomatoes. 

It was about 35 pounds.

I washed them in the kitchen sink. Ideally these would have been picked from our home garden, but our tomatoes aren't doing so well this year. The fruit flies and worms seem to like them. 

I sterilized the Mason jars in the dishwasher.

My dad cut out the stem part.

He also sliced an "X" in the bottom of the tomatoes to help the skin peel off nicely.

We blanched 4 tomatoes at a time for about 1 minute. We learned that each jar held about 3 large tomatoes or 4-5 small ones.

We put them in cool water (there was ice in there), so that they would be cool enough to handle and peel.

I peeled the tomatoes. They peeled very easily, I think in large part due to the "X" sliced on the bottom of them. 

My pretty bowl of peeled tomatoes. Bradley was curious to know what they felt like, so I let him touch one. Kind of like giant eyeballs.

I sliced them into eighths. 

We did the hot pack method, so the processing time would be 45 minutes instead of 85 minutes. We boiled the tomato wedges for about 5 minutes.
I spooned them into the jars. Each jar had 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in them. The lemon juice lowers the pH to prevent the botulinum toxin.  
Since I don't have a pressure canner, we did the regular water bath method. I bought this new pot because I needed a taller one to process my quart jars. Unfortunately the bottom wasn't completely flat so I couldn't get it to boil water on my flat top range. Thankfully our brand new grill, that I bought my husband for Father's Day, has an extra side burner, so we used it to heat up the pot over the open flame. Only four cans fit in the pot at a time, so we had to do this three times each for 45 minutes. I wonder how much propane is left in the tank?

Our beautiful 12 jars of canned tomatoes. The problem with homemade canned food is that you don't want to ever open them because they are so pretty, and you know how much effort goes into making them.

Papa and me. 

That was fun :)

I would like to say that it was an extremely educational experience that all the kids played a part in the canning process. But it wasn't. It was educational for my dad and myself as we slaved away over the hot stove (and grill burner) while my kids played games on my iTouch and watched Netflix on the computer . I plan to teach them more next year, now that I know what I'm doing.

And to add to the fun this evening I have some zucchini bread in the oven. My dad and I grated four very over-sized zucchini yesterday by hand (I really need to invest in a food processor), because I'm really bad about picking them at the right time. I have about 20 cups of grated zucchini in my fridge and freezer. Tonight I used 2 cups to try making zucchini bread for the first time. I found a recipe that my grandmother mailed me, probably about 3 years ago when I told her about my abundant zucchini crop in 2009.

Aww. I love old-fashioned handwriting.

Oven timer just went off! It smells like cinnamon!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our New Homemade Table

So my kids reminded me today that it's been awhile since I posted. Yeah, I know. I'm kind of in turbo nesting mode as I am currently 37 weeks and 4 days (but who's counting?) When I'm taking a break from turbo nesting, I'm being lazy. Unfortunately during all this nesting I still have NOT gotten out the baby girl newborn clothing from the attic, the crib from the garage, nor the infant car seat from the garage attic. I think I have a fear that if I'm completely ready, then baby will actually come. The truth is that I'm experiencing a bit of anxiety regarding childbirth. Some might think, "But you've been through this seven times, you are a pro." But I think, "I've been through this seven times, I know what to expect, and I'm SCARED!" Here is a brief summary of how the previous seven births went:

#1 - First baby. Had no idea what to expect. Did some natural laboring. Ready to ask for an epidural. Turns out the extreme pain I was feeling was transitional phase of labor, I felt Emily's head crowning, and there were no nurses or doctors in the room. My husband had to run into the hallway and call for someone, and a random doctor from another practice delivered her. After that I knew I could do it without an epidural, so I have chosen not to receive them for subsequent births.

#2 - Calm birth in middle of afternoon. All went well. My mom and Emily waited in the waiting area. Nineteen month old Emily pooped in her diaper and it leaked on her overalls, so she had to wear my maternity shirt the rest of the day at the hospital.

#3 - Started labor at about 10 PM. Had to call next door neighbor to come over and sleep on couch. Labored most of the late night/early morning by myself because my husband was half asleep in the chair next to me at the hospital. Difficult labor and delivery because Sarah was face up instead of the ideal position of face down, and it required much more pushing.

#4 - Probably my best labor and delivery. My mom was there to watch it while Emily, Bradley, and Sarah were swimming at a friend's house. It was the middle of the afternoon. Everything went well. No hard pushing. She slipped right on out.

#5 - Almost born in the car. Born about 10 seconds after being rolled into the emergency room. Never want to repeat that scenario again. Never.

#6 - Born in the middle of the night. Her head was facing sideways when she came out, so it required a bit more pushing.

#7 - Born in the middle of the night. Not a bad delivery, but an uncomfortable labor because I had to pee really bad and the nurse wouldn't let me go to the bathroom, because she was afraid I would have the baby on the toilet while the doctor was delivering another patient. She gave me a bed pan instead, but I couldn't make it work. I missed my husband's full, wide-awake attention while I was in excruciating pain. It's not fair, but I had infomercials to keep me occupied. My parents were not in town yet, so I had to call someone to come over at about two in the morning to sleep on the couch.

#8 - Who knows? And that's what scares me. The good news is that my dad is here, so I don't have to worry about finding somebody to watch the kids. The whole length and intensity of labor remains a mystery.

So today I give you pictures of our new kitchen table. I know I promised them awhile ago. The thing is, I was waiting to have a clean kitchen in the background, but I gave up on perfection and finally just took them to get it over with. So here they are. Ta da!

If you are just tuning in and are wondering what this kitchen table thing is all about. My husband and I made benches and a new table top to fit our expanding family. We used lumber from Lowe's and some basic tools (drill, jigsaw, sander). If we can do it, you can do it. I think the total cost was about $100.

Although the benches aren't quite as comfortable as a chair, I'm liking the clean lines in the kitchen. The new table can seat 10-12 people now. If you have any questions about the construction of them, just ask. This post is obviously not a tutorial. 

That's all for now, folks. I can assure you that Bradley will not allow me to not promptly blog about the birth of the new baby. I'll be in touch.