About Me

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Full Time Mom, Wife, Work, Life - Mom to three children (adults), two are college graduates and now own their own homes, and the youngest is in college in NC; wife to Thomas; Work - one full time and multiple part time jobs; Life - whatever you can throw at me....

Friday, September 30, 2011


The weather is beautiful.  The pool has been great!  I'm reading and relaxing.

Bonefish Grill last night for dinner with neighbors from home (we come all the way to FL to have dinner with neighbors who live six houses away! Thank you Vinny and Cindy for a fantastic evening).  We had a great time and then ice cream on 5th Avenue!  So much fun!
Today is a our beach day!  I'll take pictures - I haven't remembered to bring my camera yet this time, so this is last years' sunset!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I can almost feel it....

....the hot Naples, FL sun! 

We are taking my mom down to Florida for some R & R.  We all seem to need it after the craziness that life has thrown at us this past year.  We will be visiting friends and relatives and relaxing and eating and swimming and reading and that is about it!!!

There will be no recipe blogs or CSA blogs this week....But there will be pictures of sunsets and beaches and pools and fun! 

My goal.....to sleep ONE morning until 9:30 am.  (10:00 just sounds TOO decadent!)

Have a good one!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beef Jerky

My son and I have found we love making beef jerky!  I really had no idea how simple it actually was and I'm so glad a co-worker suggested it. 

We have made it twice in the last two weeks.  The first batch, obviously, was our test batch.  We figured out what we did wrong and right, so the second batch was very good!  We made two kinds.  One was a marinade, the other was more of a rub (this was Dominic's version and it was spicy). 

Ingredients for my version:

Beef (the first batch, we used a roast beef from the cow share.  The second batch, we used two london broils from the cow share.  Honestly, I don't think it mattered on the cut).
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup soy sauce (Home made version, which I will post next week)
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder

(the original recipe called for onion powder instead of garlic powder and also 1 teaspoon liquid smoke - I didn't have either of these).

Cut the steak very thin - you need either a very sharp knife and pounding mallet (or else a meat slicer).  Or slice it when it is still almost frozen.  (Our first batch was WAY too thick, but it was trial and error).  It doesn't matter the size of the pieces they can be one inch long or seven inches long.

Place all ingredients into a 1-gallon zip-loc bag and marinate.  Our first batch only marinated over night.  The second batch marinated for a little over 48 hours - that is the key!!!

Place strips on to a dehydrator.  We borrowed my dads/sisters old dehydrator (This picture shows the type).  It is an old one and the dehydration process took 12 hours.  You only just plug it in.  There is no switch or temp. gauge.  If you have a newer/better one, the process may only take 4 or 5 hours.  We had to move the trays around a few times (top to bottom, etc). 

Prepare to eat.  I have no idea how to keep them as they went so fast, there was no savings them! 

I will post Dominic's recipe for the rub tomorrow.  I couldn't eat Dominic's version, but I don't eat anything too spicy.  But the men in the family loved Dominic's version! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

CSA Week #17

I can't believe we are only five weeks away from the end of the summer CSA. 

Here is what we are getting:

Full Share:

1 dozen sweet corn
3 lbs potatoes
2 large leeks
2 sweet peppers
1 lb beans (green, yellow, or flat Italian)
1 bunch of green soybeans (edamame)
2 large eggplant
1 lb of cucumbers
4 large tomatoes
1/2 bag of leaf lettuce or asian salad mix

We are splitting the corn.  I'm giving Andrea the potatoes, as my mother in law gave me a five pound bag last night.  I'm keeping the leeks though as I'm going to try leek and potato soup on Sunday!  We will probably split the rest, but I'll take the lettuce! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A birthday surprise

My phone at work had a red light and that usually means I have a message.  I listened to it and it was my daughter asking me to call her back.  I did and we chitchatted for a few minutes about her bio tech test (I don't understand all that!) :) 

About 1/2 hour later, there was another red light on my phone.  Now, please understand that most of the time, I am the only one answering phones, so I'm not sure who this is.  It was a hang up....which is fine.  But I decided to listen to my old voice messages as there were many, and to get rid of them! 

I think I got rid of about 12 old messages from literally months/years ago.  The next one was from my mom.  It started out, "Hey Maria, sorry we didn't call you back last night, but we were tired as we had dinner with Uncle Paul".  I listened to this message, because my mom was talking about her and my dad and their trip in March/April when they went to Florida.  My mom continued to tell me about my other aunt flying in and that they were tired because they were up talking late with my aunt and uncle, etc, etc.....(my mom can go on and on).  All of a sudden she says, Here Dick, say hello to your daughter.....And I burst into tears.....His voice was very weak.  He couldn't talk much towards the end....and all he said, was "Hi Ri, We are doing fine and I'll talk to you soon".  I hadn't heard his voice in almost four months and it was very difficult emotionally for me.  It really isn't cool to cry at work, so I ran to the ladies room.  I have no idea why I saved that message...nor did I know it was there.....But I will never erase it now, at least while I work here.  

Today is my birthday and my dad got to say hello to me.....I don't need any other presents. 

Happy Autumn, Happy Fall

My favorite season.....

Although it is warm here and drizzly and humid, you can tell that fall is here.  Apple picking and mornings that range in temperature from the 40's to the 60's and today, I think it must have been almost 70 (at 6:30 am). 

I ran this morning and the humidity really got to me!  It is much easier to run (breathing-wise) in 40 and 50 degree temperatures than 70 and humid - at least for me!

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys the day and I'm looking forward to seeing my first leave change over....Here the trees are still pretty green! 

This is my all time favorite picture of the trips taken when they were 10 months old! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall CSA

I just signed up for the Fall CSA at Stone Gardens Farm.  It is for five weeks from the beginning of November to mid December.  I'll be getting my pumpkins and gourds, plus root veggies, fall lettuces, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.  Last year, I also did it and it was so worth it!

Autumn in two days!

Apple picking with the trips

This was our third year of apple picking with the trips.  I love traditions!  I thought I could handle the trips by myself but at the last minute, I asked my daughter to come.  Thank goodness I did that!

We only picked honeycrisp apples again.  That is our favorite and if I hadn't gone on opening day of the orchard PYO, I wouldn't have gotten them!  There weren't many and I think Hurricane Irene did a job on the ones that would have been great!

But anyway, it was a fun outing, the trips enjoyed it and I'm hoping they remember that this is Tia's activity to do with them every year!!  Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead, so these were from my phone....

 Bruno & Cassidy

 The trips and Hope!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This Sunday, I really had no plans except to stay in the kitchen.  I had a lot of stuff to accomplish.  I was up at seven taking care of the animals and having my first cup of coffee.  I didn't have to take Nonni to church because we went Saturday night and then we went to the church supper which I will blog about later in the week.

Saturday night, after supper,  was my prep time.  I cut and marinated the beef jerky.  Beef jerky is totally new to me, so I'll post about it once I know if it is a success or fail!  I also cleaned the counters, got down the crockpot, straightened up the kitchen, brought up the canning jars from the cold cellar and just mentally prepared for Sunday!

First up on Sunday morning, is a little cleaning.  Seriously, sometimes, I don't know if I should be embarrassed by my hatred of cleaning or mad at the fact that I have no time to clean.  Either way, I never do it until I have to and that either makes me sad or angry.  With five people in six little rooms and two bathrooms (and I don't even touch the boys bathroom downstairs), the house is always a disaster.  *sigh*  Moving on......

After cleaning, crockpot applesauce with the apples I picked, was first on the agenda.  I didn't get as many apples as I had hoped, but I did end up with four quarts of applesauce (two batches) and enough apples to eat for the week.  My son is going picking again in a few weeks and he will get me more for apple pie filling!

I had a ton of beets from the CSA, so I roasted those and then peeled them and added salt and olive oil and it made a nice little salad.

I still had raspberries in the freezer from my mother in law.  I canned fourteen MORE pints AND I still have more raspberries in the freezer! HAH!  I think I'm done with raspberry jam and the rest of them that I have, I'll use for different desserts!

I had a recipe from a friend for home made soy sauce.  It's not as good as usual, but in a pinch it worked for chicken stir fry for dinner last night.

I was totally out of detergent, so I had to make five gallons of that, too.

My biggest project for Sunday was the chicken coop.  Not only was the inside pretty gross, but the outside was never cleaned up from Hurricane Irene.  The cleaning took about 1-1/2 hours with five wheelbarrows full of hay and sticks and s%#t!  The coop looks and smells wonderful now.  Those hens better appreciate it!

FYI - Beef Jerky is good, but too thick.  Will do a blog this week about it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

CSA #16

Here is the scheduled Full Share for this week:

Full Share:

1 dozen sweet corn
2 lbs potatoes
2 sweet peppers
1 lb anaheim peppers
1 lb beans (green, yellow, or flat Italian)
2 large eggplant
1 lb small eggplant
3 lbs of cucumbers
1 bag small tomatoes
1 bunch of beets
4 large tomatoes

They added on a cantaloupe this week, too!!  I love extras!

I am also getting five chickens cut up into pieces.  There was a CSA special on chicken this week, so I usually fill the freezer when they run the special! - It came to about 37 lbs. of chicken. 

I canned another jar of eggplant for the refrigerator this week, plus three more pints of salsa.  I am going to attempt something with the beets from this week and last week, maybe a beet salad!  I'll also be doing more pico di gallo or salsa.  I have a lot of the hot peppers!

I am taking the trips to pick apples on tomorrow.  This will be the third year in a row that I've taken all three and I'm really looking forward to it!  I hope to get all honey crisp (with a few others thrown in for good measure) to make applesauce.  Canning is my plan for Sunday all day!

Fall Weather

We have gone from 88 degrees and humid to 44 degrees and chilly in 48 hours here in CT!

Two nights ago, at Zumba, it was disgustingly hot and it was probably as worse as any summer session we held.  This morning, on my run, I had to wear a hoodie, gloves and sweatpants (I hadn't taken them out since April).

God has given us a touch of fall without the leaves changing colors!
This is my favorite time of year!

Apple picking on Saturday with the trips (pictures to follow on Sunday) and of course canning applesauce and apple pie filling on Sunday!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bobcats, one town over

Here are some pictures, taken from my friend's backyard.  That is a bobcat - one town away from us.  He (or she) comes to visit them.  They live on a beautiful dead end street with untouched land behind them.  I thought these pictures were pretty incredible considering we live in such a suburban/urban area! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marinated Eggplant

I have been looking for a good recipe to mimic the way my dad made his marinated eggplant.  Unfortunately, this is one of the things I forgot to ask about before he passed.  I remember him in the kitchen with the huge colandar full of eggplant with a plate on top and bricks on the plates.  But that is basically the only part of the operation that I ever witnessed. 

So here is my recipe:

Marinated Eggplant
(makes 1 quart Mason Jar)

Eggplant, peeled and sliced thinly, like french fries, (1 Medium purple and six long white) or whatever you have!)
White Wine Vinegar, 1/2 cup
Salt, 1-1/2 tablespoons
Capers, 2 Tablespoons or more if you prefer
Roasted Red Bell Peppers, a few tablespoons, cut into small strips
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped but NOT minced
Celery, one stalk, cut into small pieces, boiled with the onion.
6 Black Olives (or green if you prefer that flavor) cut in half
EV Olive Oil

Peel and cut the eggplant into strips.  I cut mine a little two thick I think.  (Think McDonald's French Fry Size) I used one medium purple eggplant and six thin white eggplant.  (This makes about one quart).
Put the eggplant in a colandar and salt it.  (Here is where I went wrong - I used a little too much salt).  1-1/2 Tablespoons should be enough.  Mix it up with your hands until covered.  Put a flat dish on the eggplant in the colandar and then put two large cans of tomatoes (or a brick) on top of the plate.  (This will squeeze the water out of the eggplant) Let that sit for a minimum of two hours in the sink.  A lot of water will escape. 

Put 1/2 cup of vinegar and two cups of water in a small pot and boil.  Put the strips of eggplant in for about 5 minutes.  You do not want it to become mushy.

Take out the eggplant, run it under cold water and return to the colandar, with the plate on top and the brick!  Set this aside for a minimum of four hours or overnight.  I did it overnight.  More water will come out. 

In the morning, squeeze out any additional water and put the eggplant in a bowl.  Add two tablespoons of capers (more or less to your taste), cut up strips of red bell peppers - I used about Three Tablespoons, but I should have used more.  Add in one half of a boiled onion.  (I actually fried mine to get it translucent, but then it browned up a little bit and I didn't like the way it looked so you should cut up the onion and then boil it for a few minutes.)  (My dad also added boiled celery pieces) (He also added black olives chopped in half right out of the can.  I didn't have celery or olives, so I didn't add them in, but I realize now that you need that flavor!)   Mix up all the ingredients with your hands in the bowl and then stuff into a quart canning jar.  Add EVOO to cover the mixture.  Add the lids to the mason jar and refrigerate and it is ready to use on sandwiches. 

I am not sure if my dad actually water canned his eggplant.  I just don't remember it.  I read a few recipes where people did this.  I only remember there being about 20 jars each fall in the cold room and that it lasted until the next fall.  I'm thinking he must have water canned them.  Since I am only doing one jar at a time, I am not going to worry about it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We will never forget

September 11, 2001


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Are you ready...

...for some Football?

Tomorrow is opening day!!  (at least for the Steelers and the Eagles!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CSA #15

This week, we are getting the following:

Full Share:
6 ears of corn
4 large tomatoes
2 sweet peppers
1/2 lb hot peppers
2 lbs potatoes
1 lb carrots
1 bunch of beets
3 lbs of cucumbers
1 lb small eggplant
2 large eggplant
Small bag of ground cherries or small tomatoes

I am hoping for the small tomatoes, as I already have ground cherries in my garden.  My sister gets the corn this week and we will split the rest! 

My marinated/pickled eggplant came out good, but a little salty.  I know now how much salt to use when I am pressing it.  I will provide the recipe this week. 

I won't be blogging much this weekend as I have to attend a wedding.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Race Times

These are my race times for the race on Monday morning.  I came in right where I wanted to.

2011 - 919th out of  a field of 3210 Runners -  Race Time: 27:48  NET: 27:10

These are for the last few years - I can go back to 2003 to check my times in this race and I guess the best you can say is that I'm consistent... I did better than I did five years ago, but not better than last year.

2010 - 1092 out of 3183  Race Time: 27:53  NET: 26:41
2009 - 952 out of 2697    Race Time: 27:11  NET: 26.29
2008 - 1371 out of 2536  Race Time: 29:52  NET: 28:31
2007 - 987 out 0f 2223    Race Time: 28:23  NET: 27:43

2004 was my best NET with 25:34.

I was very happy with my times.  I plan on continuing to run, so maybe I'll get better by Thanksgiving.

Weekend canning

On Monday, I canned two more quarts of pears and one quart of marinated eggplant.  I got the eggplant recipe on line but totally doctored it up.  It looks great, BUT, once I taste it, I'll let you  know. 

I plan on making bread tonight, so I'll be taking a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.  The proof will be in the taste.  And if this recipe didn't work, I have another recipe coming this week from a friend.  So much eggplant, so little time!

Next up in the canning department....more pears.  I should be able to can two or three more quarts for pies.  I need to finish them up before Sunday which is apple picking day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

I wish you a beautiful day with warm sunny weather and no work.  (yea, right!)

Son #1 had to work, Hubby had to work, daughter is going to the mall, son #2 is still asleep, I just ran a 5K and now have veggies in the fridge to attend to....sounds like a great day to me!!!!

No Goshen fair this year, I can't do it.

More pears

My pear tree finally produced this year.  We didn't have beautiful eating pears, but they are canning pears.  My hubby thought we should pick them though and let them ripen a little in the cold cellar like we did with my mom's pears.

I have about 1/2 bushel for myself so I will be canning more pears this coming week.

This is one of the baskets we picked!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Concoction/Recipe

I was reading on one my favorite blogs about how good beet greens are for you.  As it just so happens, I got a bunch of beet greens with my CSA with the greens still attached....so, I looked up a couple of recipes with beet greens and pasta.

I found quite a few but didn't have all the ingredients (I don't keep pine nuts on hand), so it was time to use what I had in the fridge and improvise.

Pasta with Beet Greens

Beet Greens from about 10 beets (washed, chopped and par boiled)
1/2 medium onion
2 Tablespoons of Garlic, minced
Olive oil

1/2 very ripe tomato
sun dried tomatoes
1/2 can of ceci (garbanzo beans)
Ricotta and parmesan

1 lb. pasta (I used rotelle)

Saute garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large Frying pan.
Add the beet greens and cook for about five minutes.
Add tomato and sun dried tomato and continue cooking down.
Add the ceci at the end and cook for about 10 minutes more.

While you are cooking this, you can be boiling the water for the pasta.

Once you cook/drain the pasta, you can add it directly to the frying pan and stir.

I put it in a bowl and added a couple of dollaps of ricotta and parmesan.  The picture below was taken before I stirred it all in.

It was a great lunch and can be used with anything you happen to have in the refrigerator!

ETA: Hubby had two bowls, son #1 had two bowls, son #2 had one bowl and I had a bowl and a half and no leftovers - I guess it was a hit!!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Four years ago today...

Rest In Peace 
10/4/62  -  9/3/07

Friday, September 2, 2011


My dad had pear trees (and apple trees and mulberry trees and olive trees, etc).  But the pears were abundant this year.  Right before Irene hit (Can we use the word 'Irene' the way we use the word 'Katrina'? - to some extent, maybe), my mom picked all the pears because she knew they would all get ruined.  There was a full bushel - probably more.  I took some, my sisters both took some and my mom had some.  I put mine in the cold cellar to ripen.  They took five days.

I cut them up and added lemon juice, made a 'light'syrup and canned two quarts for pies.  The rest we are eating.

The cellar canning area is getting larger!

Honeycrisp apples in two weeks.......I can't wait!!!!

CSA #14

Although it is Friday, I cannot post my CSA list for the week....

Hurricane Irene took out the power on the farm.  Stacia was able to e-mail us to tell us that the farm was up and running  and that we could pick up our share, but without electricity, she had no internet, so no list....

So, today, I will be surprised!  I can tell you what I am hoping for....tomatoes, corn, melon (again), green beans, eggplant and cucumbers.  I'll let you know what I get tomorrow! 

ETA:  I just picked up my box:

I get:
6 ears of corn
7 cucumbers
2 purple bell peppers
2 Large eggplant
some small white eggplant
4 tomatoes
1 bunch of beets

Sister gets:
1 cantaloupe
1 lb of carrots
7 cucumbers
2 green bell peppers
1 large eggplant
5 tomatoes
1 bunch of beets

The box seemed smaller this week.......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's September

This is my favorite month!  The fall leaves start to change, the days are still beautiful, but the nights are cooler, school starts, the fun fairs begin, the Labor Day race, my b-day, apple picking, more canning, etc.

And this year, we are going on a vacation in September - something I've never done before. 

Here's hoping for no more hurricanes and no more craziness and a happy, beautiful autumn.