Tomato Days

by Cari Balbo


It's been all about tomatoes here at Ridge Pond Farm these past few weeks. Between our kitchen garden tomato jungle, my parents' large garden and our farmer cousins at Crooked Door Farm, we are awash in tomatoes. And I couldn't be happier. Now is the time for eating them fresh and putting them by for future meals. 

A tower of tomatoes in my favorite bowl.  

A tower of tomatoes in my favorite bowl.  

Some of these beauties became salsa, some were roasted in the oven, and others went into sauce. 

Some of these beauties became salsa, some were roasted in the oven, and others went into sauce. 

These tomatoes were simmered plain on the stove top for a few hours, then baked in the oven until reduced by about half. I don't bother with peeling or seeding. I want the whole food. I used an immersion blender at the end to purée the final sauce. 

These tomatoes were simmered plain on the stove top for a few hours, then baked in the oven until reduced by about half. I don't bother with peeling or seeding. I want the whole food. I used an immersion blender at the end to purée the final sauce. 

Salsa, sauce, and salmorejo. Salmorejo is a delicious Spanish cold soup made by blending tomatoes with bread, olive oil, garlic, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper. It's creamy, savory and perfect for summer. 

Salsa, sauce, and salmorejo. Salmorejo is a delicious Spanish cold soup made by blending tomatoes with bread, olive oil, garlic, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper. It's creamy, savory and perfect for summer. 

We have little Juliet tomatoes in our garden. I slice them in half, cover with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until much of their moisture has cooked off. 

We have little Juliet tomatoes in our garden. I slice them in half, cover with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until much of their moisture has cooked off. 

Another batch with added Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)   I keep some of these in the fridge covered in olive oil for a couple weeks and freeze the rest either in small containers or in a single layer in a freezer bag so that I can break off just a few when I need them. Defrosted, they'll add great flavor to colder weather soups and braises. 

Another batch with added Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)   I keep some of these in the fridge covered in olive oil for a couple weeks and freeze the rest either in small containers or in a single layer in a freezer bag so that I can break off just a few when I need them. Defrosted, they'll add great flavor to colder weather soups and braises. 

This apron belonged to my grandmother, Anne. It's floor length, holds a lot of tomatoes, and reminds me of her every time I wear it.

This apron belonged to my grandmother, Anne. It's floor length, holds a lot of tomatoes, and reminds me of her every time I wear it.

These chunks of tomato, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, were roasted like the Juliets and frozen in a single layer in a freezer bag.  

These chunks of tomato, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, were roasted like the Juliets and frozen in a single layer in a freezer bag.  

I love my kitchen work counter. Being able to look out on the garden and the pond beyond is pure joy.  

I love my kitchen work counter. Being able to look out on the garden and the pond beyond is pure joy.  


Charming Calendula

by Cari Balbo


The Bangor Daily News posted my latest piece today, this one on calendula.

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I love calendula for its color (in the garden, kitchen, and dried in the apothecary), its many skin benefits, and its long-blooming season.

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We've just passed the half-way point between summer solstice and autumn equinox. The calendula in my garden began blooming in early June and should continue into the fall. As the days get incrementally shorter and the evenings grow chillier, the calendula will remind me of these warm days of summer. When I begin to worry about the coming winter, calendula will help me remember that summer will always return.

 


Summer

by Cari Balbo


Yesterday, the first official day of summer, was rainy and cool. Today the clouds stuck around a good portion of the day but by this evening it felt like honest-to-goodness summer out there. I took my shoes off and went barefoot to do some stretching/yoga on the lawn. It was beautiful. Summer frogs on the pond singing their summer love songs. Bright, bright blue sky and white, white clouds. Happy chickens having their mysterious clucking conversations. Lettuce from the garden for dinner. More storms tomorrow but tonight is what the words "early summer evening" mean. 

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No stellar video quality here but this is what tonight sounded and looked like: summer evening 360.


Around Ridge Pond

by Cari Balbo


We've run the woodstove more than we would have expected in June so far but the forecast is looking warm and seasonal for the next several days. Some images from the farm over the past few weeks. 

Mike says I'm slightly obsessed with the sky here. He's right...I don't feel I ever noticed the sky and clouds as much as I do here. 

Mike says I'm slightly obsessed with the sky here. He's right...I don't feel I ever noticed the sky and clouds as much as I do here. 

It looks like a piece of gauzy fabric is stretched over the sky.  

It looks like a piece of gauzy fabric is stretched over the sky.  

Moonlight

Moonlight

Winter is always coming. But so are summer, fall and next spring.  

Winter is always coming. But so are summer, fall and next spring.  

A man and his barn. A love story.  

A man and his barn. A love story.  

The campfire is ready for the first fire of the season.  

The campfire is ready for the first fire of the season.  

Comfrey in the medicinal herb garden.  

Comfrey in the medicinal herb garden.  

This is the first time I've ever grown comfrey and I'm smitten. 

This is the first time I've ever grown comfrey and I'm smitten. 

Apple mint

Apple mint

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle

Kale kaleidoscope  

Kale kaleidoscope  

One of our potato beds

One of our potato beds

Garlic jungle

Garlic jungle

Nodhead apple babies beginning to blush.  

Nodhead apple babies beginning to blush.  

So excited for the apple harvest this year.  

So excited for the apple harvest this year.  

Rosy maple moth. Possibly the cutest insect ever.  

Rosy maple moth. Possibly the cutest insect ever.  

Oh, calendula, as useful as you are cheery.  

Oh, calendula, as useful as you are cheery.  

Morning dew on calendula. 

Morning dew on calendula. 

An awesome gift from a friend and neighbor whose grandmother was born and raised here. We love the living connections we have to the history of this place.  

An awesome gift from a friend and neighbor whose grandmother was born and raised here. We love the living connections we have to the history of this place.  

Brilliant green of spruce sugar.  

Brilliant green of spruce sugar.  

3 variations on spruce salt. At least one will go into a limited edition spruce salt scrub for Ridge Pond Herbals. 

3 variations on spruce salt. At least one will go into a limited edition spruce salt scrub for Ridge Pond Herbals. 

These last two are not from our farm, but from my parents' who live a couple miles away.  

The inside of my parents' barn, circa 1700-something. They had the structure restored recently and my dad is in the process of finishing renovations and adding a room for chickens. 

The inside of my parents' barn, circa 1700-something. They had the structure restored recently and my dad is in the process of finishing renovations and adding a room for chickens. 

The whale weathervane on my parents' barn is my favorite of all time.  

The whale weathervane on my parents' barn is my favorite of all time.