Tag Archives: #giftsoflove

From Vine to Bottle to Table


Amazing .. you can still buy these!


Here’s a question … do you know what this is?

I woke this morning thinking about my Grandma Penrod and her patience as she taught me to “put up” tomato juice for the first time using the standing sieve and pestle … just like this.  This was my introduction to the wonderful world of juicing tomatoes for canning.

My dear grandmother and I spent hours in her basement squishing juice and pulp through those tiny holes in the sieve with the wooden pestle, scraping the pulp off into the juice, then emptying the battered skins and seeds into the trash.  I didn’t think we would ever get through that first bushel of tomatoes.  I used this method for about 3 years or so then my dad brought home to my mother a “Vitorio” juicer (which, being young and poor, I borrowed).


Vitorio Juicer (like the one I had)

Wonder of all wonders that baby could “crank” through a bushel of tomato juice in about a third of the time. Cranking was tiring and as the years went by (and I bought my own magic juicer) I had my kids turn the crank and squish the fruit through the feed tube (lots of fun and lots of mess). Seeing dozens of bottles of juice lined up on the counter, lids popping as the bottles cooled … made my heart just sigh with accomplishment.

Then one year my Inventive Dad ‘added a motor with a pulley belt” to mom’s Vitorio and BOOM we were in major juice production mode. (I started borrowing her’s again) because bushels and bushels of tomatoes became juice in mere minutes (more or less) and canning that would have taken a full day or more, became a mild morning’s work …

Then, one day, after my house was childless and I began contemplating the harvest quantity requirements for fall canning I realized that  I probably didn’t need to can much or at all. I stopped canning  … for many many years. Just how many jars of fruit can one person use in a year?

Anyway … I married Sweetie and became addicted to his spaghetti sauce (made from store bought tomatoes).  We decided that “the sauce” would be even better with home grown and bottled tomatoes like his grandmother used and so I enlarged my garden and increased tomato production  from summer slicer amounts to my heck that’s a lot of tomatoes! AND since no juice is added to the sauce, I’ve changed up my bottling technique …  now I just toss them  fresh picked into a large kettle, stew them a bit, stick the filled jars into the cold pack pot and voila tomatoes for sauce, all chunky and juicy, seeds and all.

IMG_1651Come January, when we’ve eaten the last of the made fresh from the garden sauce,  Sweetie starts the mid-winter batch;  the jars are opened and the contents blend with secret ingredients that simmer for hours and hours filling the house with whiffs of summer.  From vine to bottle to table those tomatoes become a mouthful of wonder, topping fettuccini or polenta and crowned with fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Our meal a gift from our grandmothers …







OK, Now it’s December … Trees, Lights, & Eggnog


So, now it is December I can quit ranting about Thanksgiving being shoved aside for the commercialism of Halloween and Christmas.  I’ve been telling everyone that each time a Christmas light is lite or a carol is sung before December the elves drown a baby reindeer.  The herd is getting pretty small ….

Tomorrow after Sweetie spends the morning in his masochistic sport of chucker hunting, we will buy our Forest Service Christmas tree permit,  and will hunt out our perfect tree; fresh and green.  Over the years since the chicks have flown the coop, I have developed my own Christmas decorating ritual;  I fill a crystal goblet with eggnog (no, not homemade), put in my favorite Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and begin draping its_a_wonderful_lifethe fireplace in greenery, and placing the Nativity fresh from its wrappings in its place of honor near the front door where it is the first thing I see entering, leaving or passing the hallway.   The next evening once the tree is cut and placed ready for decorating I will again pour eggnog and put in my other most favorite Christmas movie, the 1951 black and white version of  A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims as Scrooge.scroogeandghost2

As the children and grandchildren have grown there are few wrapped gifts ‘round the yule tree as in years past  … gift cards, activity passes, ski days or gifts of service have taken the place of the wrapped and stacked booty of yesteryear.  There will be a Christmas village beneath the branches and empty gift bags as a reminder to myself that the greatest gift I can give is of myself; to give of my time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed me.

Christmas … a reminder of God’s greatest gift to us, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Life is good … Happy first week of December!