all summer long

All summer long we're making tomato sauce.

 Start with fresh, ripe, produce.  
Jumble it all into a few roasters.
Add spices and olive oil.
The full recipe is here.

At first, it looks like this:

After roasting, which intensifies the flavor, it will look like this:

Now it goes into the food processor...

...and then through the chinois strainer...

...where all the skin and seeds are removed.  
This is one of the best parts as my recipe eliminates the time consuming
 task of removing the skins before cooking.   Yay!

No more cooking.  Now all you have to do is bottle it up...

...and it's ready for the freezer or your favorite sauce!

Take it from the granddaughter of a California commercial tomato farmer, if you've never had tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes, you are missing a summer treat.  And it's easy.  It may be a bit time consuming, but I promise it's worth it.  I hope you'll try it!

The complete recipe.  

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Here's another summer treat:

 When making sauce I generally make this terrific appetizer at the same time:

In a flat pie plate or quiche dish, place 3-4 C cherry tomatoes,
top with 3 crushed garlic cloves and several onion slices,
squeeze in some fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and basil.  
Add 1/3 C olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes.
Bake loosely covered in foil (along with the tomatoes you're roasting for the sauce)
for about two hours on 450 F.
Everything will caramelize and melt together and be delicious.
Serve room temperature and spoon on bread or crackers.

The Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe is here

Happy summer!


Here's a picture of our summer garden:



Tiny baby-knits are so quick and rewarding to make.  I love my newest, very soft and feminine finished knit:  here's Elsie from Little Rowan Cherish by Linda Whaley, knit in Rowan Pure Wool DK.  Lace and baby girls are perfect for each other!  I loved knitting it and cannot wait to gift it to a grade school, middle, and high school chum of my son who has recently moved back to the area with his wife and new baby.  This was a very fun little bit of lace to knit and while I didn't make any real modifications, I did choose not to make the lace pattern on the back and knit plain stockinette instead. 

Cherish, this book is darling!
Rowan Pure Wool DK, wah, it's discontinued,
and replaced by Pure Wool Superwash DK
The button is a hand-painted vintage glass button from Etsy

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sophie june

This morning I gave this sweater to a very dear childhood friend as a present for her new granddaughter.  When I was young, my parents and her parents were part of a large group of second generation Scandinavians who grew up with my dad on the same streets of Chicago.  After WWII, they moved to the same neighborhoods in Southern California where my father met my mother and where she was adopted into this big, loud, crazy, Scandinavian bunch.  Kids were born, houses were purchased, pools were built and parties were hosted.  It seemed like every weekend someone threw a pool party and most often it had the same Tiki or Luau theme: Don Ho or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass blasted on the Hi-Fi; Martinis and Mai Tais, Caesar Salads and Teriyaki Steaks were on the menu with hot dogs and cokes for the kiddies.

I loved all my parents friends and always thought of them as aunties and uncles.  My favorite by far was my Auntie June.  Auntie June was a big personality packed inside a tiny body; she was trim and petite with a massive blonde beehive piled on top of her pretty head.  She was a people collector; people gravitated towards Junie and if I conjure her up in my head, she is never alone, but surrounded by laughing people.  She would have us in stitches wearing her bark-cloth bikini while dancing her "scarf dance" to the striptease song.  The kids used to beg her to dance either that or her dirty boogie as she called it; gosh I cannot help but smile while writing this.  There are some people that pass through our lives that are truly unique--real originals--and Auntie June was one.  Man, I loved her.  But here's the big thing, Auntie June taught me how to sew.  Yep.  That was huge in my life.  My mom didn't sew and I was dying to learn how to use a sewing machine.  I remember a whispered exchange and next thing I knew I was invited to Auntie June's house for a few after-school sessions where she first taught me how to make Barbie clothes, then make my own clothes.  She taught me how to cut fabric using a pattern, sew a straight seam, later to make a collar and a waistband and how to fit lining into a skirt.  She also must have been the one who talked my parents into buying me my own machine when I was 12.  Bless her heart.

I hope that Sophie June, the baby who will wear this sweater and who is Junie's great-granddaughter, will be as lucky as me and grow up surrounded by plenty of adults who will laugh a lot, have wild pool parties, play loud music, and dance crazy dances.   I also hope she will  have someone to mentor her passion, whatever it is.  I know I thanked June many times before she died and know that she knew how much I valued her attention, but I'm still happy to have this blog to thank her again.

The sweater details:  I used the kid-and-mama-friendly Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK.  The pattern is a variation of the free Fuss Free Baby Cardigan pattern.  You know how much I love owls; they totally crack me up with their serious, Beethoven-like faces so I had to squeeze a few owls into this sweater.  You know I also love Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK, it's springy and easy to knit and easy care.  My Ravelry Project Page has all the details. 

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Thank you for popping by! xo Kristen


midsummer garden

Midsummer at Casa de Knitionary means the garden is in full throttle and we are in the water-weed-harvest-repeat mode.  July is the prettiest time in our garden, and while the work never ends, we enjoy it all.  The weather has been so nice; it's pretty much always nice but we never forget to be grateful for it.  We recently attended a party to honor twelve newly retired servicemen, none of whom live in California but were here taking a Stanford University course designed to integrate service men and women back into the changing work force.  The one thing they all marveled over was our beautiful weather. We are proud of our mild, sunny days, and of course immensely proud of our men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.  It was an honor to meet these terrific young men.

Garden Details

the giant tomato I'm holding is a Black Krim, beyond delicious

the sunflowers are pollenless Moulin Rouge
the cherry tomatoes are Sun Gold

the vegetable casserole is a summer standard around here and is my variation

I profess an undying love for pesto and make a traditional one with
the basics: basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil
but I'll share my two tips for making a great pesto even better:
lightly toast the pine nuts and at the end add the juice of half a lemon;
toasting the pine nuts gives a fuller flavor, and the hint of lemon gives a fresh finish--
or for a variation add a few mint leaves for a hint of mint,
or some nasturtium leaves for a peppery kick
here's my recipe

I've never been crazy about melon so I wrap prosciutto
around fresh summer stone fruit--this summer try a plum or a peach!

most requested quickie summer dinner
is tuna salad on tomato slices

summery stuffed bell peppers 

for the best crunchy/salty summer snack
shake a tablespoon of soy sauce into a cup,
add small cucumbers quartered lengthwise
~you're welcome~

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"If I ever go looking for my heart's
desire again, I won't look any
further than my own back yard..."
--Dorothy, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"