Thursday, January 10, 2013

We Are Sooo Doing Oven-Roasted Tomatoes Again!

Last night I used our oven-roasted tomatoes for the first time.  This year was the first time we've roasted tomatoes, then preserved by freezing (with juice) in freezer bags.  Hauled a bag out a couple of days ago, largely 'cause it was firmly stuck to a jar of goats milk!  I guess I hadn't wiped off the bag well enough, or it was still a little warm; it was very well adhered to the glass jar and wasn't letting go. So I defrosted the two together, in an ice cream pail just in case there was any leakage.

Holy Smokes - was that the closest I've come to the taste of fresh, summer tomatoes in the dead of winter!  We are absolutely doing this again this coming year!  Highly recommend it!  We have homemade tomato sauce, and it's pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  But the flavor of the frozen oven-roasted tomatoes was fabulous!  Our tomatoes were a mix of Romas, Margeritas and the heirloom Brandywine.  I made a simple sauce by sauteing some onions and garlic, then added the tomatoes and seasoning.  I am fortunate to have a lovely stash of tarragon shared by our CSA members Tammy and Mike, which added a nice flavor with a touch of sweetness.  Toward the end, I added a bit of homemade chicken stock, because it was getting a little thick.  I did cut up a few piece of tomato skin, which were a little large and stringy.  Total time was the amount of time needed to boil the water and cook the pasta!

This coming season, I think we'll follow the directions for roasting the tomatoes from here at Smitten Kitchen.  She's slow-roasting them at a low temperature, which is not what we did and it was a little warm in the house the day we processed our tomatoes.  Just some olive oil and salt and pepper, then you're free to spice your sauce any way you want.  These tomatoes will be nice for a style of bruschetta, maybe in a quiche, blended for a many things.  Storage in freezer bags does not take up a ton of freezer space as they stack very nicely.  Just learn from my lesson and make sure the bags are well dried off, or stack them after they freeze!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sunshine and Fresh Air For Everybody!

Getting the Goats out and about!
 We believe in sunshine, fresh air and exercise for everybody!  Vitamin D is a good thing from the sun, for cats, dogs, chickens and goats, as well as us humans.  When the weather is extremely cold here in Manitoba, say -25 C (about -18 F) or colder we won't even open the doors to the chicken coop or barn.  Chickens might freeze a comb or even a foot, goats are susceptible to drafts and since our girls are's just not a chance we're willing to take.  I've got to tell you, though: we feel bad for our critters when we can't get them out for some fresh air!  We can't imagine a life where the animals never get outside, never get to prance and run.....never get to waddle and cluck and peck.

So, we woke up this morning and it was 0 C - that's right: a warm and balmy right-at-freezing zero at 7:30 AM!  That's about twelve degrees warmer than our usual daytime high this time of year!  Farmer Man had no appointments until the evening so we took the opportunity to get some chores down.  First on our list, and our minds, is that Randi needs his own pen.  As our Mamas get closer to delivering (expected March/Aprilish) Randi the Buck could inadvertently hurt them or the babies.  Last year we had the spare pen, but this year the boys Marty and Mervyn are occupying it.  Randi does not take kindly to the young bucks, so a new pen had to be constructed.  The biggest part of that chore, as always, is cleaning out debris!  The barn becomes a bit of a dumping ground in the fall, as we close down the vegetable operation.  We needed to re-organize the shelves behind the pens, clear out some space and put together a new pen.

Mabel and Goldie compete for pumpkin. That kept
them busy for a while!
Since the weather was so lovely, and we wanted to work around the pens, we decided to let the Mamas and Randi out.  Farmer Man led the little herd over to the trees beside the chicken coop, where the snow isn't very deep between the rows of trees.  The Goats could snack on the evergreens, forage for some dried leaves and just generally roam and relax.  Problem is: goats just want to hang with their people!  They all returned pretty promptly to the barn and preceded to get in the way.  When Randi tried some head-butting with Farmer Man, the buck ended up back in the pen!  To distract the Mamas, I  ran back to the house to grab the last pumpkin - their favorite.  We proceeded to tidy up, finding new places for tillers and grass catchers and saw horses and all the accumulated stuff!

Randi's new pen!
The goat Mamas and our little girl Marble probably tried to eat everything we moved.  Well, not eat but they will mouth everything to see if it is good to eat.  Choco wanted to chase Marble, Mabel just wanted to get at the stacked hay and Goldie really, really wanted to know what we were doing.  It was a bit of a gong show.  But, eventually, we got it done and got Randi ensconced in his new pen.  Whewwwww.......