The Kitchen Window

The Kitchen Window
Antique Milk Bottles with Herbs and Flowers


Welcome to the Frog Hollow Farm blog! I've been blogging since January 2010 and have switched from Blogger to Word Press, but I'm back to Blogger because, for me, it's easier to use. My husband and I live on a little farm in Northwest New Jersey. We have some chickens and a very large vegetable garden with asparagus and raspberries, and rows and rows of sunflowers, snapdragons and zinnias. Traveling, entertaining, gardening, spending time with family, studying Italian, blogging and reading keep us busy and happy. With all of this going on, moving towards a simpler life seems almost impossible but it's definitely a daily goal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Clouds Over the East Field at Sunset

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to look out the window at just the right time to see these beautiful clouds hanging heavily in the eastern sky at sunset.  It was a very rainy and damp day here in northwestern New Jersey, but the evening dried up and we had spectacular blue skies and these gorgeous clouds to see.

FHFB took the photos - I think he did a great job!

Through the windows of the conservatory....

I'm linked over to Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper and Blue Monday at Smiling Sally!
Ciao, bella!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harvest Moon at Frog Hollow Farm

Last night was such a beautiful night to sit out on the porch at Frog Hollow Farm with a glass of wine and some delicious appetizers.  The air temperature was just right and the most beautiful waning harvest moon was peeking over the treetops at the back of the south field.  Even with the brightness of that moon it was pretty dark outside and our little porch, lit with a few small candles and lanterns, seemed like it's own little world, safe and sound from any harm. 
FHFB had been wallpapering our dining room for most of the day and it was time to kick back and relax.  We've chosen the Herndon Straw pattern from Thibaut's Chelsea collection.  The image from the Thibaut website is a little blurry but I have to tell you that the paper looks just beautiful on the walls!

(Have I ever told you that FHFB is the most expert wallpaperer in the world?)

Our Appetizers

Roasted pancetta and goat cheese drizzled with honey
Picholine olives, which are a French green olive, salt-brine cured, with subtle, lightly salty flavor
sicilian style olives, A medium green color olive, crisp and salty.


Pan-roasted Frog Hollow Farm stuffed green peppers
Fresh, whole wheat linguini
Frog Hollow Farm marinara sauce
Arugula and red-leaf lettuce salad with a light vinaigrette

Raspberry pies in a jar (Yvonne's recipe at Stone Gable)

I'm still studying for my NCED exam in early November but found time to have lunch at our local Brew Pub last week with Bunny, a fabulously talented woman and owner of The Paris House Designs. 

It was such a pleasure to meet her and chat for awhile, and she brought me the most gorgeous gift of several MOR beauty products -  MOR is proudly Australian and recognized globally for its range of innovative, luxurious pampering body care and lifestyle products. 

Please take a moment to stop by Bunny's absolutely beautiful Paris House Designs website and blog - it will take your breath away and leave you with a ton of new ideas for your home as well as ideas to pamper and take care of yourself! 

Ciao, bella!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Making Tomato Puree at Frog Hollow Farm

I'm so happy to be back blogging - things are just way too busy for me around here between painting the big room, traveling and getting back to work on a consulting basis. Yes, I know, it'as all good and it's exactly what I want to be doing, but sometimes too many new things at once catch me off guard, and my routines become lost in the shuffle.  

 Blogging has unfortunately gone by the wayside, and I've been missing you all terribly.  

Today I thought I'd post about my morning project - making tomato puree from the delicious tomatoes in  FHFB's vegetable garden. 

This is a photo of his garden in the late spring - that's the side of our house in the background.

September has always been the time of year when I've been back at school either teaching or bogged down in the administrative tasks of getting a new school year off to a great start.  Now, with retirement, I'm working on taking in a deep breath and reminding myself that I have the time to do the things that need to be done, as well as the fun things that I love doing, like decorating, cooking, shopping, entertaining, designing etc. 

So this morning I thought I'd continue tackling the tomatoes by cooking them down, milling out the skins and seeds, and simmering the whole thing down to a thick delicious puree that I could freeze for the winter. 

 First off I needed to give them a good washing - at this time of year many of the tomatoes have fallen on the ground and have some dirt on them - and they just get dusty hanging out there on the tomato plants.

You can also see that they start growing a bit funny at this time of the year - earlier in the summer we don't get these types of markings on the tomatoes.

After I've washed the tomatoes I cut them up into quarters or smaller pieces and cut off any spots that wouldn't normally be eaten.  All of the tomato pieces are then put into a large stockpot, without any water, on a very low flame, with the lid on, until they cook down a bit.  You don't need to cook them down too much this time, just enough to be able to have them pass through the food mill easily.

This is a picture of the food mill that we use for tomato puree.  It clamps onto our counter and separates the puree from the seeds and skin.  This food mill is made out of aluminum and stainless steel.  A bowl to catch the puree is set up as well as a smaller bowl to catch the skin and seeds. 

After the puree is separated from the pulp and seeds, it's cooked down for quite a while, so that most of the water cooks out - this will allow for a richer puree when its made into a sauce later on.  I only add a small branch of fresh basil to the puree while it's cooking down - no salt or other seasonings until it's begin used for sauce later on.  You can remove the basil before freezing the puree, but you don't have to. 
I'm using these mason jars to freeze the puree this time.

Yes, all those tomatoes cooked down to only about 6 cups of puree. 

According to several on-line sources you can freeze the puree in mason jars with no problems (I always prefer glass to plastic) as long as you leave about a third of the jar empty, to allow for expansion.  We'll see how this works - I put them into the freezer up in the kitchen without lids on to see what happens - someone online recommended freezing without the lids and then putting the lids on afterwards - I don't know if that really makes a difference or not. 

Here they are on the top shelf of the freezer - without the lids.  Later tonight I'll put the lids on the jars and move them downstairs to the other freezer.

I hope that all is well with you and a big, big thank you so much for stopping by and not forgetting about me!  I have so many things to blog about in the next few days - our visit to Vermont, the decorating and new design in the big room upstairs and my new fall table setting in the conservatory. 

I'm participating in Metamorphosis Monday - I used to participate in that meme quite a bit and I'm happy to be involved again - there are so many creative ideas there - please take a moment to stop by.

Ciao, bella!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Labor Day at Frog Hollow Farm was celebrated in glorious weather on the back porch and in the gardens. 

As always, my specialty cocktail was the hit of the party. 

This particular delicious Sparkling Sangria cocktail, pictured above, is from Michael Chiarello's recipe collection at Food 

Our menu was pretty basic - with all that's going on around here lately we didn't have time to try any new recipes, and sometimes going back to basics works best for a barbeque. 

Here's our menu:


Grilled Shrimp with Rosemary, Lemon and Garlic
Grilled Fontina and Mozzarella Sandwiches
Italian olives, local fresh cheese, and spicy salami
Tomato bruschetta
Spicy wings from Stella G's - a local restaurant
Roasted Red peppers - Rao's recipe


Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs
Oven Fried Chicken (Barefoot Contessa Family Style)
Hot Dogs with relish, sauerkraut (my dad's request)
Hamburger sliders
Fresh corn-on-the-cob from a local farmer
Red potato salad (from my sister Colleen)
Caprese Salad (from sister-in-law Jan)
Green Salad with mustard vinaigrette (from sister-in-law Jan)
Delicious cheese and herb quiche (from sister Laurie)


Colleen's Famous homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream
Ricotta-Orange pound cake with strawberries
Fruit Strudel (from sister Laurie)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (from nephew Luke) 


Ice cold beers:  Stella Artois, Beck's and Corona
Sparkling Sangria
An assortment of soda and sparkling waters

We're heading up to Vermont shortly - I'm hearing that I'll need to pack my sweaters along with summer outfits.  Packing for this trip is getting a bit overwhelming but we're stopping at the Woodbury Commons Outlets on the way up (FHFB wants to check out the Tommy Bahama store) and I'll probably pick something up at the Eileen Fisher store. 

Ciao, bella! 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Festive Autumn Door Wreath

I found myself all caught up with everything I needed to do for our Labor Day barbeque tomorrow - how did that happen?? 

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was inspired by one of Yvonne's posts at StoneGable - she posted a tutorial for putting a wreath together.  I found a couple of wreaths at Home Goods that I thought would be just right for my experimenting, and popped over to Michael's to pick up a few silks to decorate with. 

I began placing flowers on the wreath according to Yvonne's directions - and then took a photo before dismantling it and glueing it back together.  (You can see my daughter's copy of Rolling Stone magazine in the background - we are both in love with Jon Hamm from Mad Men.)

The hydrangeas are real - they dry so well for me in the house I thought I'd give them a try on the wreath.  The other berries, etc were all purchased at Michael's. 

Here's a close up of the wreath on the front door to the conservatory.

I really liked the way the colors of the flowers and berries all worked so well together.

Oops - you can see me in the reflection...yikes!

I love having the time to be creative and to make something that can help make Frog Hollow Farm feel festive and naturally seasonal in a simple way, without going too overboard.

Ciao, bella!