How to make tomato sauce

The interwebtubes is clogged with how to make tomato sauce recipes. I intend to clog it up some more.

In spite of a very weird growing season this year we ended up with boxes and boxes of tomatoes. I had to rush out and pick every single tomato in the green houses before night fall and get them into the house on account of an early hard freeze (15 degrees F). We had tomatoes piled up in the kitchen like stacks of green beans at the discount warehouse. Well, we had big plans for all these tomatoes, salsa, ketchup, BBQ sauce, you name it. After a quick inventory of our stash it was clear we needed more sauce than the rest of that stuff. Sauce it was, and is. Continue reading “How to make tomato sauce”

The Snag

The good news is, we caught 41 fish. The Snag? We caught 41 fish. Now we have to clean them, all 41 of them.

The first time I went to the Helena Valley Reservoir, a small lake built to provide the irrigation ditches in the Helena valley with ample water, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The FWP here in Montana stocks that lake with Kokane, fresh water Sockeye salmon to the tune of 20 to 30 thousand fish every year or so. The fish swim around eating and doing fish stuff for 3 years only to return to the dam, the release point, to spawn. Are they wild or are they stocked after 3 three years? I’m not sure. If fish have been in the wild for 3 years doesn’t that make them at least somewhat wild? No matter, there they are and you can snag 35 of them. So we did, or almost.   They are fierce fighters and a very large time was had by all. I’ve been back every year since, save one, to snag, snag, snag.

Snagging is a crude and very haphazard way to catch fish. You launch a large, weighted treble hook into the water and jerk, reel, jerk, reel,  jerk, you get the picture. It is only sheer dumb luck that your hook jabs a fish with enough purchase that you can haul it in. But when you do, well, it’s a good reason to drive an hour and half to join in the fun.

If you consider the odds of throwing a hook into the water and actually jabbing a moving fish somewhere in the deep it boggles the mind that it can be done. The concentration and number of fish must be staggering. Not to mention the odds of discovering, through trial and error, exactly where they are. Then there are the snags. Those rocks, small tree branches and other obstacles intent on robbing you of your tackle. The whole thing adds up to fantastic fishing fun. I impatiently wait all year for the two month season just to have a crack at it.

J and I make the trip several times in the months of September and October. Most days are slow. We catch a few fish and finally admit “they’re not running today.” But then, and it seems to happen every year, there is one day when the water temperature is just right, the moon is in the right phase, the fall leaves are the right color and the fish fairies are in a good mood. Every cast, or nearly every cast connects. That’s what happened today. I knew it was coming. We had close to ten fish in the first ten minutes. We were haulin’ them in one after the other like politicians gather suckers.

Well, this went on for over two hours. Cast, yank, reel ’em in until our arms were sore and the stringers were so full we could barely lift them. Reluctantly, we figured, it was time to leave. We stuffed the fish into a large cooler like you stuff a sleeping bag into its’ tote bag, stomping and shaking them down to make them fit. We looked at the cooler crammed full of fish and then it hit us. We have to clean, pack and freeze these things. Oh, my aching arms! I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But we made the long drive back and dove right in. Two hours later we had done the deed. It was Miller time.

Another year, another 50 or so fish, all told. Hunting season was coming up in a few days and there would be no time for snagging. Here in Montana, like most places I suppose, there is a good number of people that live their lives in accordance with the seasons. Spring and Summer are for work, Fall is for gathering and putting up food and Winter is for, well, I’m not sure what Winter is for except maybe killing the bugs. Some people like to play in the snow, whatever floats your frozen boat , I say. This is the way, I think, life should be lived. Many of us trudge off to work every day, do what ever it is we do for 8 or so hours, drag ourselves home, eat, watch the tube for a few hours and try to sleep it off only to start over the next day. We do this ALL year. Not many of us have seasonal jobs that allow time to do all this puttin’ up food stuff but we can tune in to the seasons by simply growing things, anything, in a garden or in a pot on the balcony.

Growing things takes time. You plant a seed, watch it germinate and  slowly grow into a tomato plant or whatever. You mark the progress of Spring and Summer by observing your little plantlings grow into fruit producing “adults.” Pretty soon you’re noticing the sky, is it sunny? cloudy? You begin to notice how much rain you’re getting or how dry it is. Temperature swings affect your plants and you begin to notice that, too. Your plants mature and begin to bear fruit. Fall is coming and soon it’ll be time to eat fresh tomatoes, munch on fresh green beans, steam broccoli, and enjoy veggie time. Pretty much anyone can do this. It doesn’t take special knowledge, it only take paying attention. Do your plants need water? Are they getting enough light? In short, are you giving them tender, loving care? Turns out, that’s all it takes to get along with those you love, and everyone else, for that matter. Are you paying attention? Are you giving them tender, loving care?

When you grow things you begin to see the world in a different way. You SEE that the world that has been, mostly, created for us by the media and school and governments and corporations is not the real world but a cheap fake. A facsimile of the real thing. It turns out governments, corporations, schools the media etc. are merely fictions, things that only live on paper. They are not real. YOU are real and those plants growing on the windowsill are real. That other stuff is just a world created to distract you from who and what you really are; a being with enormous power and strength. Don’t let the people who populate those fictions lead you to believe otherwise. Those fictions were created by men and women to serve a purpose, to make things manageable. But when those people begin to use them for their own aggrandizement, for their own gain, they become a threat to our well being. We have the power to  dismantle those organizations and create ones that do make our lives better. The people that benefit from their existence will kick and scream when you threaten to take away the gravy train, but that’s OK, it’s really your call. They weren’t real anyway. But you are, and to them that’s the snag.

 

Message from rog

I’d like to thank my readers (all five of you) for tuning in. I started this blog because I felt that some things had to be said. As many of you are aware, the world is at a crossroads. If you are not aware of this or think it is just conspiracy theory, it’s time to do the reading. Humanity must now choose between dominance by a small cadre of self proclaimed elites bent on controlling your every move, your finances, where you live, what you eat,and what kind of medical care you will receive. In short, what they call “full spectrum dominance.” And, a way that it is in harmony with creation and how it works.

The former is being done by convincing you that science, technology and central planning (read big government) can rid the world of  what ails it. It’s an old story. Just let superior minds do the thinin’ round here and all will be well. We must reject this way of thinking. Yes, the corporate model is efficient. Yes, it gets the job done (most of the time). And yes, it can   provide order, but at what cost?

I am convinced that despite its attributes, this system is at odds with nature. It appears to be an end run around natural law to benefit a few wanna be “gods.” We don’t have to reject science, per se, or technology. We must simply be vigilant about how they are put to use. We must not allow convenience to morph into expedience. Sadly, we are most of the way there. We accept what science tells us without question because we do not understand it. We accept technology because it makes our lives easier without questioning the price we pay. We have accepted a monetary system that exploits our labor to enrich the few. We have allowed money to become digits because it is convenient. Money, in order to do what it does must have intrinsic value. Why would you trade digits and pieces of paper with no intrinsic value for things that do have value, such as food, housing, etc? We do it because it is convenient. That’s the only reason.

I hope to remind the reader that easy is not always better. That doing stuff for yourself is rewarding and can open your eyes to the value of your efforts. You can grow your own food, you can make basic repairs to most of the things you use, you can govern yourself which means following the golden rule.

By revealing how your path has been chosen for you by others, we can learn together how to chose our path. The path that is truly our own. The path that is in harmony with our nature, with our selves.

Because it is the season for putting up food from the garden and the season for harvesting protein from our local environment posts may be few and far between for a month or so. We are busy “puttin’ stuff up” for the winter. Hope to see a few of you come back for a visit once and a while.

rog

Lost Friends

We lost a friend, we buried Pete today. Pete was my house mate’s dog, and like every other dog that has shared its life with us here he just showed up. Dogs do that here. They seem to show up when you need them most. My dog showed up four years after I lost Mike. I guess it was time. We rescued him from a couple with a screaming toddler. He was too much to handle and didn’t get along with the kid (I think it was the other way around), they said. “You want him?” He was the cutest puppy on earth, how could I resist? It’s doggy paradise here and word gets around.

Pete came strolling down the road one day and squatted in the yard. He hung around on the perimeter for a few days then slowly moved in, like a cat stalking prey. This was where he was going to live, by God, and no one was going stop him. Even the alpha male allowed him into the house and let him eat from the doggy food station, which NEVER happened with a “stranger” dog.

C had lost her beloved Poco a while back and was in no mood for another dog. Until, she said, “I looked into his eyes, that was it.”

Pete glommed onto her like sap to bark, would never leave her side and  adored her as only a dog can. He accepted his place in the doggy hierarchy and took up residence. This was home.

It was apparent from the beginning that Pete didn’t like men, especially men with facial hair. J., my other house mate, and I are both begrizzeled with facial plumage and Pete would have nothing to do with us at first. I was puzzled by this and soon found an answer. My hired help saw Pete and proclaimed that he had Pete for a few months. That he had taken him from some guys that didn’t like him and abused him. The stories were sad and maddening. Pete was terrified of fireworks, thunder and gun shots. He had, we found out much later, buckshot in his butt, which ‘splained his aversion to that stuff. These bearded men, I was told, harassed and beat him when he tried to eat out of turn and apparently, shot him with bird shot at some point. I guess they didn’t want him.

After being passed around like a fruit cake at Christmas he ended up with a girl down by the river whose father didn’t like Pete because he looked too much like a wolf, which he did when he was younger. She showed up a few days after Pete moved in to formally pass possession to C, as if it mattered to Pete. He was C’s now and no transfer of title was necessary. The dog chooses it’s master, never forget that.

We usually have 3 or so dogs here at any given time. When Pete moved in the total bumped up to four, not counting the neighbor’s golden retriever who, apparently, lived here too. That made five. Pete was sort of the peace maker for the alpha dog who could be surly at times.  At 100lbs plus, Pete was a gentle giant. He’d jump in and put himself between any dogs at odds, acting as arbitrator for doggy disputes. Except for the healers from across the road. For some reason he didn’t like either one of them but particularly one of them. I couldn’t tell the difference, they were both orange, small and sported a Napoleonic complex. Pete would attack at the first paw on the lawn. He never hurt them, he just let them know they were not welcome. You never heard such screaming and whining. He never did warm up to those dogs.

Well, the years came and went, we lost Bear and the neighbor’s dog and Pete ascended to the position of top dog, although he was never in your face about, he just was. It was a case of greatness through attrition. He was family now and we loved him, dearly.

Then, last Spring I noticed Pete was limping, favoring one leg. I mentioned it to C who took the position of let’s wait and see. It was soon apparent that something was wrong and she took him to the vet. It was bone cancer, a fast moving cancer that takes dogs with alarming speed. We were devastated. It was partly due to the breed, and the bird shot in his butt likely got the ball rolling. Pete? How could this be happening to Pete?

Throughout the summer the tumor on his hind leg grew until it was grotesquely large. Pete was having more and more trouble getting around.  We watched as Pete valiantly hobbled around on three legs doing doggy stuff and doing the best with his disability. He was damned noble about it. But, it got worse and worse and soon he couldn’t get up.

The vet showed up early evening after 3 days of rain and cold. The sun had just come out. We had Pete on a blanket in the yard. I suspect he knew his time had come but he seemed happy and content, as she gently held his head in her hand, to be looking into C’s eyes when he drew his last breath. We buried him in the back next to the cat and several other dogs and cats that left us here wondering why we only have them for such a short time. Why they seem better than most people we know. Why the unconditional love of a dog lasts only a few years. And why do we have to say goodbye to our friends so soon. Why Pete?

She laid a flower on his grave.

Author’s note: I know this is a sad way to start a blog but I have to write what’s on my mind. And I needed to write this.img_0094

Good bye, Pete