What to do with all those tomatoes . . .

tomatoes

When the tomatoes start ripening, I always end up with more than I can eat!!!  Here are the few of the ways I process my tomato harvest:

READY TO EAT?   Slice, salt, and eat – easy peasy and delicious

Have fresh Basil and Mozzarella?  Make Caprese Salad by layering slices of tomato and cheese, top with basil and drizzle with balsamic and olive oilcapresesalad

Sandwiches – BLT,  grilled cheese and tomato, or deli meats and cheese with tomatobltsandwich

Salads – like tomato, onion, olive oil and vinegar – simple and delicious, or add to lettuce salads, chop for tacos or salsa, or make the rest into Tabouli salad

tomatoonionsalad      freshsalsa      taboulisalad

TOMATOES GETTING SOFT?

Chop & Freeze in containers or plastic bags to use in cooked recipeschopandfreeze

Make Sun-dried Tomatoes from cherry or plum tomatoessundriedtomatoes

Slice tomatoes in half, place cut side up on a lightly oiled baking sheet, salt and bake in a low oven until most of liquid is gone and tomatoes look shriveled.  Then freeze them on the baking tray once cooled.  After frozen, they can be put into a container or freezer bag and you’ll be able to take as many or as little as you need for use in salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, or sauces.  Once sun-dried, tomatoes have a sweet and concentrated flavor.

Make Sauce!  Screen shot 2016-08-05 at 4.03.07 PM

Step One:  Prepare the tomatoes.

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare tomatoes by rinsing, cutting out the stems and then making an “x” at the bottom of tomatoes with a sharp knife to make peeling the skins off easier.
  2. Prepare an ice water bath to help the skins come away from the flesh after par-boiling.
  3. Once  water is boiling, add the tomatoes with a spoon to avoid splashing yourself with boiling water.  In about a minute or so, you should be able to see the skin peeling away from the flesh.  Remove the tomatoes, with the slotted spoon, and place into the ice water bath until cool enough to handle.  Remove skins.
  4. Cut in half and squeeze seeds out of the flesh, then halve again so the tomato is in quarters.
  5. Use a processor, or use a potato masher, to make crushed tomatoes. and set aside

Step Two:  Make the Sauce

  1. I like meat sauce so I use ground beef, ground pork, or ground sausage and brown that first.  I like to drain most of the fat out and meat needs to sear in a pan for the best flavor which is why I prefer to cook it without the onions and garlic.
  2. Remove meat from pan and add olive oil, chopped onions and a little salt.  Cook until onions are transparent over medium low heat.  Add chopped garlic and cook just until fragrant then add back the meat and stir together with red pepper flake, pepper, and a little more salt to flavor the meat.
  3. Now add the prepared tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, and a can of tomato paste if you have it.  If I don’t have paste, I leave it out knowing that the sauce will be a little watery.
  4. For herbs I add dried basil and chopped fresh parsley.  If I want an enhanced sausage flavor I add anise or fennel that I crush with a mortar and pestle.
  5. Cook sauce until thickened.  Near the end I add a splash of olive oil and a handful of parmesan cheese.
  6. Serve over the pasta of your choice with a sprinkle of Fresh sliced basil and more parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

RIP Prince ~ It’s been 6 days and I’m Still cryin . . .

Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

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When I first heard the news of Prince’s passing, I thought it must be a rumor or a joke.  Later, when it was confirmed, I went into shock.  I work with the tv on so all day I listened to the reports as they happened.  Here in Minnesota, where I am originally from, Prince was a really big deal but long before the world fell in love with him, I was catching his shows in a place now called First Ave.  I was about 19 when I started listening to Prince – it was before “Little Red Corvette”, “1999”, “Purple Rain”.  Back then he wasn’t getting any airplay, most likely due to his explicit lyrics.  But I was hooked.  Besides being musically talented and an incredible songwriter, he was so sexy, cute and shy . . . and his falsetto – criminal!  I would have to guess that “Head” and “Sister” were probably the first songs I heard off his 3rd album Dirty Mind and they were quite shocking.  And to me, a punk at the time, it made Prince a punk too.  He was cool.

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It rained all day on that sad day and then a rainbow appeared over Paisley Park.  I think Prince must have done that.

 

When First Avenue announced that there would be all nite dance parties for the entire weekend I wanted to go.  But Thursday nite looked overwhelming – all those people in the streets like Times Square in NY.  I had done that, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, and the idea of being around all those people didn’t appeal to me.  But when Friday came, I felt like I had to go.  I didn’t have anyone to go with so I went alone.  I got into town around 12:30.  I knew they weren’t going to open the doors until 1:30 – after the scheduled show was over – so I hung out in the bar next door for an hour.  At last call I headed out the door and the line had really grown – turning the corner twice.  Below is a photo of my view at some point.

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I waited in line for about 2 hours.  People kept cutting in front of us.  I wasn’t about to travel from WI and wait all that time without getting in.  I had started talking to some 20 somethings in front of me.  When one of their guys walked off I thought maybe he had had enough.  But then he came back a few minutes later and said, “I think we can budge”.  What do you mean?  “I think we can get in, follow me.” And so I did.  And sweet boys that they were, they protected me from the crowd.  There was pushing and shoving and one guy got taken away in cuffs for being disorderly – he kept trying to start fights.  We just stood there and waited – we were on the wrong side of the barrier.  Eventually the security got fed up with the pushing and they sprayed something.  I had backed off a little so I didn’t catch much of it – just a bit in my nose.  But it sent several people sneezing and running away from the door so I got even closer.  Within 15 minutes I was in.  Success!

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It was a great feeling to be inside with all those other people who loved Prince.  I danced and walked around – by myself.  I hoped maybe I’d run into someone I knew but it didn’t happen and it was ok.  I felt like now that I’ve been to this tribute, I can get on with things – go about my business.  The photo below is of the IDS lit up in purple.  I took the photo in the parking lot.  It was dusk – about 5:40.  My navigation said I’d be home by 6:30 and I was ready to go home.

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It’s taken alot longer to settle in – the idea that I’ll never see Prince again – that he’s left us.  I know he’s in a better place but I’m still cryin’ . . .

City meets Country

Unless you’re a sportsman/woman, you probably never heard of Gokey’s.  Made famous for their handmade custom fit snakeproof boots and luggage, they had a catalog operation and several stores in the twin cities.  The stores and catalog have closed down but you can still find their beautiful work at Orvis.

I found out about Gokey’s when it became  my first full-time  place of employment – working as an inventory control clerk.   After about a year, I decided to go back to college and they let me work  part time in the warehouse and taking phone orders.  While working there, I managed to snag myself some handmade leather boots from the boot factory upstairs –  lace ups that looked much like army boots after I dyed them black to fit my style.  I also purchased a simple olive green canvas duffle  that  now holds my camping supplies.  But it’s my most recent acquisition (Thanks, Steve! I love it) that I want to tell you about.

Heavy duty canvas with leather trim, it is designed to last several generations.    My bag was purchased second hand and was perfectly worn in as if I had gone to Africa and back.  But before putting my own things into it, I gave Orvis a call to find out how to clean it.  I was thrilled to hear I could wash it on the delicate cycle in my washing machine.  After washing I conditioned the leather to keep it soft and protected.  The back of the bag has a monogram solid brass plate which I will one day replace with my own initials 😉  In addition to being sporty stylish, it really holds alot of stuff!!!

Recently I traveled to NYC to visit family and friends.  Usually you have to pay for a carry-on or checked bag but I got on the plane with this bag for free as my one personal bag!  Cha ching! And it couldn’t of worked out better because after flight, it went with me wherever I went from city to Jersey suburbs to beach.

The inside zipper pocket held all my charging and electrical cords, my camera, sunglasses case, reading glasses case as well as my plastic bag with liquids that you have to remove for security.  Actually, to make things easier, I used that plastic bag to hold my makeup, moisturizer, travel toothbrush and toothpaste.

The back pocket held all my travel papers and reading materials.  Inside the main compartment I had my laptop, a pair of flat sandals,  a pair of heeled slides, my pjs, intimate apparel, and a capsule wardrobe:

1  jumpsuit, 1 sundress, 1 cardigan, 1 knit pant, 2 maxi skirts, 3 tank tops, and 2 tees.  On the plane  I wore  jeans, sneakers, a fancy tank, and a black cardigan sweater. To get it all to fit nicely, I rolled everything up and put it in several plastic bags.  This way, it made my lap top easier to take out and put back when going thru security.

Sadly, This exact bag is no longer being made but you can find something similar at Orvis.  Go check ’em out!  And while your there, check out the custom fit boots – hand made in America since 1850 – and worth every cent!

Now, to investigate skeet shooting – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

An Artist’s Life

~ An Artist’s Life ~

Do I dare call myself an artist?  Well, it has been my passion for most of my life.  I’ve always loved to draw.  I studied art in college; went to FIT and became a sportswear designer.  So I guess I can.  Many have preconceived notions about artists – how they look, how they live.  I have decided to share more of my life on this blog – things I’ve learned along the way.  I hope you enjoy.  xx

The Orchid Collection

When the sun comes through the window and shines upon my orchids I feel grateful to be alive. The petals sparkle in the sun as if calling out for attention and the colors can’t be beat.

Most of the year, while my orchids are sleeping, they surround my tub and soak up the humidity that spills over the shower wall. It’s as if they’re collecting their magic for when the time to bloom comes. As they begin to bloom I bring them down to the kitchen so I can enjoy them all day. The bright sun and humidity from washing dishes keeps them happy.


The bloom season is long with flowers opening one by one. The tallest plant has been blooming since the day before Thanksgiving when I purchased it. The other orchids are in their second or third season of bloom. Orchids are an excellent value for this reason – they will reward you again and again if you don’t over-water them.

Enjoy! Diana 😉

New Beginnings

Happy New Year! While I never really make New Year’s Resolutions, this year I have vowed to eliminate clutter in my life. By doing so I hope to get more room in the brain for the creative process. In addition to looking forward, I tend to look back – to briefly assess any accomplishments.

This year, my major accomplishment has been to remain a non-smoker. Quitting the habit was something I’d wanted to do for many years. With the exception of quitting for the pregnancy and nursing of my first born, I had been a regular smoker for nearly 25 years with a habit of 1/2 to 1 pack a day depending. How did I do it – and while married to a smoker?
I began by feeling bogged down by the addiction. Yes, you have to tell yourself you hate it and do so over and over again. After you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve had enough of the addiction, go to your doctor for help. My doctor gave me a prescription to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. And while I received this prescription in September of 07, I didn’t start the program because I was taking another medication for a different problem. I waited until I had finished those meds before filling the prescription. Being able to focus on taking only one medication was helpful for me.

What were the meds like? For me, I felt extremely angry all the time. I felt like yelling all the time – and I was yelling alot more than usual. I don’t know for sure if it was the meds or the fact that I was angry for denying myself something my body wanted. Thankfully, it went away after I stopped taking them 2 months later. In addition to taking the meds, to keep from smoking I used a few other tricks.

1) Change your routine. This is really important because it’s a distraction. If you can switch the order in which you do things, it really helps.

2) Identify your triggers. Once you identify your triggers, stay away from them as much as possible. Bars, parties and alchohol were off limits for a while. I still had to drive though so I would distract myself with the radio – singing – lots of singing. Some people hold things like a pen or pencil.

3) Take deep breaths. A friend once told me that smoking was the body’s way of telling you it wants you to breathe. When I felt like smoking I would take a few deep breaths – I think getting the oxygen to the brain probably helped.

4) Prepare yourself mentally – you will be taunted by cigarettes for a long time. I’d drive by the gas station and see ads for cigarettes – ouch. I’d go to a movie and they would be either smoking on the screen or I’d have to walk thru cigarette smoke to get to my car. Eventually, the smell of cigarette smoke became disgusting and that helped but until then you need to find a way to deal with the temptation.

5) Tell yourself and others that you don’t smoke anymore. This was probably the key to my being able to quit. Whenever I was tempted to “light up”, I’d tell myself “I’m a non-smoker now.” The power of the spoken word (or thought).

What has been the most challenging? I used to associate the creative process with smoking. Meaning, when I’d get stumped about a design or needed inspiration, I’d go have a smoke. I won’t belittle that process because I realize for some, the opportunity to break with a smoke yields results. But I will say that by recognizing the smoke break as JUST A BREAK, I was able to eventually get past it.

Even tho I quit over 1 year ago, I still take it 1 day at a time. Sometimes I still say it – “I’m a non-smoker now.” It’s important to accept that you’re human and the possibility of faltering is there and that if it happens, it’s ok.
Have a Happy and Healthy 2009!

Diana 😉