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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grape Expectations (Almost) Fulfilled, and A Tomato Experiment

Outdoor Wednesday!

Let's go to the end of the driveway, and take a look at what passes for a vineyard
around here -- an ancient tangle of grapevines slumped between two old posts!

Thanks to Susan of A Southern Daydreamer for hosting Outdoor Wednesday.

I'm glad I've got grapes to share; I'm not yet ready to show that the first of the traitorous leaves are beginning to sever their relationships with their branches and litter the lawn.

I am not ready for Autumn, but if I could figure out how to stop the march of time, my girls would still be in footie pajamas, and I wouldn't be wondering why my hands look like they belong to someone else. Like my mother.


The grape vines have lived at That Old House far longer than we have; even elderly neighbors remember them as having always been there, although there used to be a much larger arbor.

As I was leaving the house yesterday, I grabbed my camera and snapped this:

And this:

Our grape babies are all grown up, although we have a raisin in the making in this bunch.

Now I have to decide. . .
do I give the grapes to my neighbor so she can make her spectacularly delicious grape jam and give me a jar?

Or do I keep the grapes, and fumble through making my own jam, thereby risking disaster?

Shall I ask the bees?
(Aren't you supposed to ask bees the tough questions in life?)

Our bees do seem to know what they are doing. The Sedum has finally moved out of its
anemic-broccoli stage, and is rosy and glowing. The bees are in pig heaven:

They are all over the plants, and so busy that you can go right over and poke them,
and they pay you no attention at all. They are Bees With A Mission.


Meanwhile, I have a Mission as well.

I mentioned that we brought home jillions of lovely ripe tomatoes
from our trip to the beach house for Labor Day Weekend.

The problem with jillions of lovely ripe tomatoes is that they won't sit around cooling their heels waiting for you to leisurely decide just how many celestial Tomato and Cheese Sandwiches (the noblest calling for a ripe tomato) two people can possibly consume.

Tomatoes have no patience, and if they are kept waiting they get ugly. Like, really ugly.

So I am trying something new: Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes, with my trusty wall oven playing the part of Old Sol. Check back with me on Friday to see how this particular experiment in housewifery worked out.

Igor and I are heading to the kitchen now,
to fire up the oven and begin our Science Fair project.

Igor likes to help in the kitchen, especially when the
Mad Scientist gets clumsy and drops something on the floor.

Have a lovely Wednesday. Our forecast holds rain for the next two days, so perhaps Igor (sorry, Dion!) and I will take a stroll while the Long Island tomatoes bask in the glow of 200-degree oven heat and shrivel up nicely. Like the autumn leaves, and the skin on my hands. Jergens, anyone? -- Cass


  1. You have the cutest lab assistant :)

    I've never tried to dry tomatoes, but I did make some "fairly decent" spaghetti sauce once.

    (Once being the key word in that sentence...)

    Hope you're doing well - we're waiting patiently for cooler temperatures here!


  2. What a fun OW post - I love the grape photos and your trusty assistant.

  3. Love your lab assistant! I remember homemade grape jam gowing up - so much better than that in the store. I have never dried tomatoes before, but have dried grapes to make rasins.

  4. I completely understand the hand thing! And why is it that our daughters now have OURS pretty hands??? Beautiful photos once again. **blows kisses** Deborah

  5. Hi Cass! Oh, you've done it now! All I want to do is kiss that sweet little Igor's precious little nose. What a doll! Gorgeous photos - love the grapes and those tomatoes. I'd have them eaten before I could do anything with them! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  6. love the idea of making my own jam but love the idea of someone else making it for me so much better
    Actually I would eat all the grapes and raisins right off the vine so there would be none for jam.
    hope you share a picture of your sun-dried tomatoes.
    hugs, Cherry

  7. Hi Cass--
    Beautiful pics--have your neighbor make the jam but I'm sure your lovely assistant would help in the jam making if called to duty.
    What a cutie!!!

    Enjoy your day.


  8. Decisions, decisions, LIfe is not easy/ :)))
    LOvely dog you have,Have a nice day

  9. Great photos as usual! Now years ago when I had pretty hands I would have made the grape jelly and canned all those tomatoes. Then I would have made labels for all the jars with beautiful writing! That's why my hands look like my mother's!

  10. Your assistant is a dear and your photos are terrific. I'm sure you'll make short work of the tomatoes. Have a great day.

  11. Beautiful sedum, LOVE Igor...and Sun dried tomatoes...HOW FUN....

  12. Let me know how the drying process turns out.
    I have been wondering about that.

    Precious puppy!

  13. That is a LOVELY house! I'm not a great ahem..cook...but really interested to find out if your "experiment" worked. I will be back! ~Cindy~

  14. I'm promising myself that next year I will plant some tomatoes. Yours love yummy :)

  15. Beautiful grapes and tomatoes! I love your old house, it is so pretty. You lab assistant is a cutie, too. Hugs, Cindy S.

  16. Hi Cass, your lovely post is wonderful reminder of our old house when we lived in NJ. We had grape vines and tomatoes growing in the back yard. Sweet memories for me, thanks...
    Your blog is delightful, thanks for visiting :) Pam

  17. Grapes and tomatoes too! What bounty ... and how handy to have someone around to help clean up 'accidents' in the kitchen! Wonderful post. Thanks for dropping by Happily Retired Gal ;--)
    Hugs and blessings,

  18. Cass,]
    Your home is beautiful! And the grapes and tomatoe looks yummy...Mmmm! I wish I knew how to make faviries is grapes....I am going to plant me some tomatoes next year...I love them...would love to know how the dried tomatoe turn out...Your sweet puppy is a cutie...Happy Outdoor..Thanks for stopping by Katherinellen

  19. What a great bunch of grapes, and I love those tomatoes!

  20. Those are some beautiful grapes! Wow! I think I'de let the neighbor do it! lol. That doggie has the cutest most begging eyes ever! Great tomatoes too! hugs, Cindy

  21. i love your grape photo! i planted a vine last year, still no grapes

  22. Oh yes, fabulous looking tomatoes - good idea to dry some and use them instead of those horrid Winter hothouse things!

    Great about wine instead of jam......just kidding!

  23. I say have the neighbor make the jam! Well, that is what I would do since I don't know how to make it LOL.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today for a visit. If you get a chance, stop by again as I just posted a giveaway. Have a great day!

  24. Great pics ,I would like to try sun drying tomatoes ,also.Maybe your cute assitance Igor could help me,too. ;-)Thanks for stopping by.

  25. What a fun post! I love the picture of the bee in the flowers. And those grapes look wonderful. I think your assistant would be happy to help you make some jelly (just don't let him eat the grapes, they are not good for puppy dogs) He is a cutie! Have a fun time in the kitchen and let us know how your project turns out. Kathy

  26. Yuuuuuuummm. GRAPES! I always liked the scuppernongs growing up.(got the goodie out and yuck, got rid of the thick skin.) Love scuppernong wine today because the taste takes me back to that childhood memory by the vines...
    And is there anything better than the smell of tomato plants in the summer. (like to crush a leaf in my fingers and sniff. :-) Am I the only wierd person out there??
    Thanks for visiting today. And thanks for your neat blog posts. your house, and your little "Igor" assistant. LOL

  27. Cass,
    I'm not sure what grape you have there. I make a great cobbler with muscadines in September. Got the receipe from the old Better Homes cookbook (1960 edition), and I believe it calls for concorde grapes. Love your assistant, by the way, what a cutie.

  28. Can't wait to hear more about how your tomatoes turn out. We have 7 plants this year and ALL ARE FLOURISHING (yikes!) so I have been experimenting myself over here. Lots of sauces and soups for the freezer; and on the drying front, I've done 'em in the oven, borrowed a friend's dehydrator, and have even tried an experiment I read about online: put them on a baking sheet and placed them on the dashboard of the car, parked in a sunny spot! Let's just say that one didn't have the happiest ending ;) Anyway, I look forward to hearing about how yours turn out; we love 'em, all year long after packing them in olive oil.

  29. Your grapes are so pretty. My mom used to make the best grape jelly , bread and butter pickles and homemade egg noodles . I tried to make noodles once. Not good. I bet you can make great jelly but I would let the neighbor do it if it was me. LOL!

  30. Ohhhhh, what a "cute" lab assistant. We had a cooler summer than usual here in Hayward Lakes area. Now summer came do you believe.
    Joyce M


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