Cherry tomato overload


Cherry tomatoes recipe 001 I have had a bad tomato year.

For some reason, the container plantings of tomatoes I planted just didn’t do well.

But Allyson had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes.

She has the best location right between her driveway and sidewalk.

So, they are in the way- and she is happy to share them with anyone willing to pick them (like me!).

I have used them in salads, and in just plain eating.  I put them in tomato tarts and marinated them.  And yet,I still have more cherry tomatoes.

I have also refined my cherry tomato handling methods.

First- only pick the ones that haven’t split yet.  Ripe, but not split.

Second- use as soon as possible.

Third- check often for the ones that have split after picking.

Fourth- use them first.

Fifth- peel off the skins before you cook them.


Sixth- chop tomatoes coarsely and discard seeds.

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Perhaps you already knew all of these methods.  I have had much better success in using these in recipes since I learned them.

Here is an original recipe for Braised Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes Italian.



1 to 1 1/2  cups cherry tomatoes

1 cut up chicken, fat removed

1/2 cup Italian dressing

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

3/4 cup chicken broth or water

2 TBS olive oil

1 lb. egg noodles or pasta, cooked



Marinate chicken pieces in Italian dressing- at least 2 hours in fridge.

Using large pot, heat on medium , drizzle with olive oil.  And sautee chicken until browned, turn over and brown other side.

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Add onions to chicken and stir to keep from burning.  When onions turn translucent, add garlic and sautee for another 5 minutes or so.

Add water or broth, turn heat to medium low and braise for about 20 minutes, then add cherry tomatoes and cover.  Continue to braise for another 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

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Make sure you follow the above cherry tomato handling methods-

you don’t want the skins to become little strings in the sauce and the seeds

will burn to the bottom of the pan.


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It is really, really delicious- even Frank remarked on it several times last night.

And it used up a fair amount of cherry tomatoes, as well!

Lavender wands- and a giveaway

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People are always telling me that I shouldn’t care if people comment or not. 

After all- I did say that I needed to write and this is a good way to do that and keep in touch and to mark and remark upon the happenings around me.

That is all true.  But I LIKE it very much when I get some response to my scribblings and odd photos.  And lately- there has been little or no comments.  I know I’ve moved around a bit and that can be disconcerting and that it has been a little difficult to comment, but hopefully, the bugs have been all worked out and now it is easier to comment and read.

Today, I wanted to share a craft I’ve been making for the last 25 years or so.  I saw some for sale at the Herb fair at Quailcrest and was rather disappointed in the quality and style.  So I made a couple of my own and dug up some that I had packaged for sale and gift giving over the years.  The give away is a fresh lavender wand and it will go to a blog reader who comments on at least 4 postings over the next week.  Once you qualify, I will have Jordan pull a name out of a hat and I will notify you here and then send you the wand.

Lavender wands (sometimes called lavender bottles) have  a long history.  At least since Elizabethan times, women in their still rooms have been weaving ribbons into the stems of lavender and enclosing  that wonderful scent into a small area where the fragrance of the flowers is preserved .

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You start by picking an odd number of long lavender stems.  Then you match the area of blooms so that they are in a small bunch.  Choose a strong satin or grosgrain ribbon and tie a small knot at the bottom of the bouquet-close to the last blossom.

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Turn the bouquet around in your hand.

Then gently, carefully – without breaking them, bend the stems down over the blossom heads so that it looks like the skeleton of an umbrella.  Make sure you do this evenly around the bunch so that the stems are all around the heads.

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Then start weaving the ribbon over and under the stems.  Since you have an odd number (9,11,13) stems, you will be able to go around in a descending spiral and capture all of the blossoms within your wand .

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Continue to weave, over and under, catching the one  you went under the last time to be on top on the next circle.

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Depending on the size of your ribbon(nothing wider than 1/2 inch- 1/4 inch is optimal) and the number of lavender sticks you use, and of course the tightness of your weaving,  you should end up with something looking like these.

Or you could just comment and maybe win one of these beauties!

Don’t forget, you need to comment on at least 4 different postings to be in on the giveaway! 

Hope to hear from you soon!

Gourd crazy

I really like dried gourds.

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Cynthia and I found a booth at the farmer’s market in Chincoteague that was selling them 3 for $5.   So we bought 6!   I sanded them down and put a maple stain on them and buffed them up a bit.  Except for those warty ones in the back- I’m going to spray paint them silver or gold for the holidays.

But the big ones have the seeds dried out in the middle of them- so they rattle  when you shake them.  The one in front is a really good shaker, and I decided to do something special with that one and give it to Aidan as a noisemaker/rhythm instrument.

Shakey cat 003 But I wanted it to be cute for him to hold-

so I painted a cat on it.  We saw a whole bunch of cat gourds at the Herb fair last weekend- but they all looked like scary Halloween cats.  And I didn’t want one of those cats –  I wanted it to look happy when he shakes it silly!new camera 024

I drew up what looked like a kind of happy cat.

Shakey cat 004And painted it on the gourd with acrylics.

He doesn’t look quite as happy as he did on paper.

 Shakey cat 005 But  I really like his tiny little body and paws with claws.  I think I’m going to paint the rest of the gourd a solid color for better contrast and then braid some dyed raffia into his “tail’ and give him a raffia bow around his skinny little neck.

Shakey cat 006 I know it is not a really great cat- I’m not really even a good folk artist.  But then again, Aidan isn’t an art critic either.

And I think he will like it.

How I got my camera and fell in love with texture all in one afternoon!

Actually, I’ve always been in love with texture.

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Linguini disguised as lo mein noodles=lunch.

But I did get the camera in today’s mail, and I went on a texture hunt.

I’ve not  only been a texture junkie- but I’m also into tactile.

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And scent- fragrance totally blows me away.

This is lavender, lemon grass, parsley and rosemary.

It smells heavenly.

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This is a toad watering hole-

I want to make these, someday.

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And here is a preview of Fall in my yard…

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Then I made it to my fern garden and found these lovelies waiting for me!new camera 022 new camera 023

Maidenhair ferns  and  Irish moss.

I got a little carried away.  The little garden walk about I do everyday became a

picture shoot.  Because I took lots of more pictures!!

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And THAT isn’t even a third of my pictures.  But I will stop posting  them because … I really just wanted to celebrate my new camera!

Baking day and Clam Chowder

Today was one of those days when I just couldn’t stop baking.

I started off with making pie crust.  When I get my camera I am going to do a pie tutorial.  I have had so many people tell me they have problems with crust.  I used to have LOTS of crust problems.  So many that I never made pies.

Robin and I would make our specialties,  hers were cakes and pies.   Mine were bread and cookies.  But  now I have no one to make pies for me, so I’ve worked on different crusts and techniques until, I too, can now use that colloquial expression- “It’s as easy as pie”!

Anyway, today I made cherry pie.  I bought sour cherries earlier in the season and froze them for a more convenient time- Today!

And while I was getting the butter out of the fridge for the crust, I saw that my sourdough starter was in need of a fresh dose of flour and water.  So I made sourdough french bread.

While waiting for it to raise, I figured I should make Jordan and Frank some brownies for their lunch bag desserts and so I made a batch of Best Ever Brownies.

In between all the oven activity, I made clam chowder.  I made clam chowder while we were in Chincoteague from fresh clams and it was delicious.  But when I told Jordan about it, he was just sad. Because he didn’t get any.  So I made clam chowder out of canned clams and juice- and it is delicious, too.  Just not quite as clammy.  It is Ohio clam chowder- heavy on the corn and potatoes!

Here’s the recipe for the chowder.

1 large can of clam juice (15oz)

2 small cans of minced clams (5 1/2-7 oz each)

1 large onion-diced

1 medium carrot-diced

2 ribs of celery-diced

3 slices of bacon- chopped

5 medium potatoes- cubed small, boiled

(reserve the water you boiled them in to add to

the soup base.  You may use up to 2 cups, depending

on how thick you like your chowder.)

2 ears of corn on the cob- boiled

1 cup half and half

about 1 1/2 to 2 cups water

salt and pepper to taste


Sautee bacon until it is browned- not crisp- add onion, celery,  and carrot and sautee until onions are lightly browned and vegetables are soft.  Add clam juice and clams and  bring to a light bubble.  Not a boil- just a ripple – then add potatoes and water and cut the corn off the cob into your pot.  Scrape the cobs with the flat side of the knife to get the creamed part of the corn into your chowder.  Simmer for about 1 hour until all the flavors get real chummy.  At this point, mash the potatoes slightly with a masher.  The soup will get thicker and you don’t have to add any flour.

Now add the half and half and salt and pepper.  Keep at an even heat- DO NOT BOIL- or the cream will curdle.    Serve with oyster crackers, garnish top of soup with chopped Italian parsley. 

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Here’s a picture of my beautiful daughter in law in the cute apron they had at the house we rented in Chincoteague.  I love this apron on her.  Does anyone have a pattern for a scalloped hem apron like this one?

Figs and Cheese and Oysters and Olives- Appetizers part one

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Aren’t figs lovely?

Truly mouth wateringly and eye pleasingly lovely?!

I think they are beautiful and exotic- like pomegranates, but more earthy.

They have figs growing on the eastern shore of Virginia, and we bought

several quarts  while we were there.  Most of them we ate fresh.

The rest I brought home and made F.R.O.G.jam.

But look at these appetizer plates and tell me they don’t make you hungry!

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The food must be good- the presentation must be attractive- and you have to have the right appetizer for the right people.

Because Luke thought the next plate was the very best h’ors d’ouerves we had-

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And , although I agree it is attractive-  I really don’t like my oysters raw.

So I was happy to have MY oysters in a po’boy sandwich the next day!

I DO love appetizers, and I really enjoy garnishing, so I’m going to add some appetizer recipes and garnishing ideas to my blog content in the very near future.  ( As soon as my camera comes in the mail !)

Until then, take another look at the figs.  Aren’t they aesthetically perfect?

I really like them.Chincoteague 2009 (Luke) 066 A lot!

Happy Grandparents Day… and other unrelated stuff!

Today is Grandparents day- so I hope all of my friends who have reached this happy state are enjoying memories if not the actual presence of their grandchildren!   And for those whose grandkids are far away- may I suggest Skype?!  It isn’t the same as being there- but it sure beats nothing!

I ran into an old friend at Kinko’s this week.  He has become a step-grandfather and was telling me how great it is.  No kidding, John!  Grandparenting is the very best in Adult/child relationships.  I celebrate Grandparents day every time I get to interact with Aidan!

And today I’m also celebrating cameras and pictures!

Jordan bought me a camera on ebay- another Sony Cybershot 8.1!  YAY!!!!!

Because I already have an extra memory card and battery and computer upload/download card- and (this is the REALLY important part) I already know how to use it!  So I am quite happy!  It is used, but at less than half the price of a new one, and initiated and paid for by my loving son- I am really happy!

And he also helped me to get the last pictures off of the camera that Luke gave me and the Atlantic slurped all over and now won’t work.  So I have the last pictures I took in Chincoteague!   I’m going to post some pictures of Aidan  in honor of Grandparent’s Day- and tomorrow I’m going to share some ideas of lovely appetizers.

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Sand and Shells with Mom and Dad.

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Sometimes, peaches are SOUR!

Chincoteague 2009 (Luke) 074 Happy Grandparent’s Day, Gramps!

Herb Fair at Quail Crest

quailcrest for heidi Such wonderful sights and sounds and tastes and smells and crafts- I love this  event every September.  They hold it in the gardens and there is always something special and new and tasty and fun.  This year Willow and Aidan met Allyson and I there and we picnicked on the lawn then played with the rocks, listened to the music and ate home made ice cream while we were playing in a twirling, swirling blue glass and copper sprinkler.  Aidan and I got rather damp, Ally and Willow kept a good distance and were only slightly moistened!

But the crafts, OH MY!!! Wool and felt galore -made into flowers and pins and pin cushions and pumpkins and gourds and ears of corn!  And so many wonderful stone masons and cutters- I would REALLY like to get some goggles and stone cutting tools and make my own whimsical sculptures!

Cynthia and I bought some gourds in Virginia last month and I am going to paint them and stain them and make them into cats and centerpieces.   That is the worst thing about going to craft and herb fairs when you are a maker of crafts…

you don’t buy because…well…because you can make it yourself!  But then…you don’t.  So you just have great expectations and plans that are stymied by the lack of interest or initiative or time or – I don’t know for sure- I just don’t usually follow through. 

Except that Chad is trying to help me set up a small internet business where I could sell cookies and felted purses and the stuff I make.  I don’t really have much in the way of inventory- and I’m not sure if this is the right venue for me.

What do you think?  Should I try to sell stuff online?  I do tend to make stuff every year because I used to do a couple of  craft fairs and I’m just used to making lots of items- like packages of  my own Chai tea with cinnamon stick stirrers, and sage sticks and lavender wands, gingerbread cookies, and so on.

Ally is supposed to send me some pictures- so I will put them up when she does,  I hope you all had a BeeYOOtifull day!

I’m ashamed-

And I am not afraid to admit it, either.  Yesterday was 9-09-09 and there was a lot of talk by so-called Christians about the number of the anti-Christ and last day’s prophecy.  I flew home from Hawaii on 6-06-06 and I heard the same hooplah then.  Plus, lately there have been very loud and obnoxious “Christians” making accusations  against and hoping for disaster to come upon leaders in this country with whom they disagree and for whom they did not vote.  All politics aside, for just a moment, even if you think that the President is not doing a good job- do you honestly think that our Lord Jesus Christ would behave towards His enemy in such a fashion?

I am ashamed that part of the family of God- that fellow Christians would spend so much of their time involved in throwing insults and making dire predictions rather than getting down on their knees and praying for the leaders and their policies.

Brothers and Sisters- spend some time in the scriptures.  Read the book of Revelation and see Jesus Christ in all His Glory.  Listen to His messages to the churches and hear His warnings.  Quit worrying about identifying the anti-Christ and start living lives that point the world to the Living Son of God.

Go back to the gospels and read the good news that Jesus preached.  Look closely at the beatitudes and see if they fit into your world view.  Practice the message of the sermon on the mount.   And most of all, believe that God is in control and that He is sufficient for all of our needs. 

You don’t have to agree with my political views- you don’t even need to know what I think about politics.  I just want to encourage you to speak the truth with love.  This is America and we do have freedom to speak our minds- just please- leave God out when you share your opinion in a less than loving manner.

My intention is not to preach or offend, just to offer an alternative to believers and an opportunity for those who don’t agree with the Christian  Right in their aggressive stance to be heard as well.

nagged by prayer


When I was a young teen, godly people worried about me and prayed for me.

I know because they told me so.

And one morning at Eastern Camp in  Webster Springs, West Virginia ,I got up early and went to

prayer meeting to hear what they were telling God about me.

I came away chastened and touched, but they never knew that.


I have since learned what nagging prayer really means.

It isn’t about believers nagging God to fix the problems in their lives and loved ones.

It is the Holy Spirit, persistent and persuasively bringing something/one to mind and then effectively calling you to prayer.  Or at least that is how it works in my life.   There are days when I feel positively NAGGED into prayer- into deep and constant prayer.  I’m tired and ready to stop when another wave of need washes over my spirit and I am again swept into prayer for that same person or issue.

I feel privileged to pray at the Holy Spirit’s nudging, but sometimes it would be nice to know how it all turns out.

Once, when Frank and I were driving down S.R. 18 towards Medina, I felt compelled to pray for the couple on the motorcycle next to us.  We were close in traffic for a while and so I prayed with my eyes on them, until they turned off at 94.  I felt like I had finished my task and hoped that the Lord’s will would be accomplished – HAH!   I STILL feel compelled to pray for that couple.  Every once in a while they turn up in my thoughts so vividly that I know it is another call to pray for them.

I also pray for people who are famous or at least quasi-famous.  I pray for the President and our leaders (even Don Plusquellic, Akron’s mayor) and for world leaders and the armed forces (especially the Navy, especially for one certain Lieutenant now deployed to Japan!).  And, since I’m admitting to these other-worldly practices, I will confess that I pray for Nick  Nolte.  I seem to be called to  pray for Nick Nolte to keep searching until he finds the truth- the Lord of Truth.

I did NOT choose Nick Nolte, I was reading the Parade Magazine from the Sunday Edition of the Akron Beacon Journal and suddenly I found  myself reading about this troubled man who was in search- and the voice in my head said, “Pray for this man.”  So I do, although I wish there was a time limit on how long you have to pray for some people.

Today, all day, I’ve been in prayer.  It sounds pious until you remember what you just read about me.  Because it could just as easily say, Today, all day, I’ve been nagged to pray.  Yesterday,  I wouldn’t have been so obedient- because yesterday, I was a grumpy old woman and mainly I fumed and whined and felt sorry for myself.  So before you think highly of me- remember my motivation.

But also, think of the scriptures in the light of what I’ve said.

Romans 12:11″ Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  The Holy Spirit is powerful- and if you have  been trained to listen when the Spirit speaks, then you had just better rejoice and be patient- because you ARE going to be constant in prayer! (my own paraphrase)

I think sometimes when I read the Bible I expect it to shine out rays of illuminations that will transform me into the person God has called me to become without any pain or labor.  Other times, I realize that this becoming is hard and painful work and seems to be taking a LONG time. 


So, how was your day?