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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: homemade

I noticed a hummingbird sitting on our Suet block cage a few weeks ago. It was pouring, so I assumed it was getting out of the rain, since it is located under an overhang. But, it turns out, that although hummingbirds need sugar for energy, they also need protein. Their protein comes in the form of insects. Suet blocks attract birds that feed on insects, since the animal fat suet is made of provides a great source of protein. He/she has not been back to take advantage of the suet. I’m not sure if hummingbirds even bother with suet. So, I’m putting out a sugar water feeder to get the hummingbird(s) into view.

The advantage of making your own hummingbird food is:


FYI – Red Food Dye is completely unnecessary.
It may look nice to you, but the birds don’t care.
There is no conclusive research saying the dye
is dangerous to the birds, but there is also
no long term research saying it is safe.

One Part Sugar (Organic or White/Refined)
Four Parts Water 

In a small pot, I poured one cup of sugar and four cups of water. This is enough to get started, but you can make a lot, and store it in the refrigerator for about ten days.


Stir the sugar into the water with a spoon or fork.


Boil your concoction until the water is bubbling.

Then, let it cool down to room temperature.



Add to your feeder (funnels are handy) and hang it up outside. You can purchase one for a few dollars or get a fancy one if you’d like.

One important thing is to keep your hummingbird feeder in the shade. That way, the homemade nectar will stay fresher, longer. The second thing is to hang it in a way that discourages pests like ants. Make sure that there are not branch or other pathways (other than the necessity of a string) for crawling bugs to get to it. Bees? There is not much you can do to deter them, but hopefully you will only get honey or bumble bees, which are fun to watch too.


You could make a hummingbird drinker. Just obtain a wine bottle, twine, a cork, thin copper pipe, and a little end cap that you can get at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a Local Hardware Store (a well-stocked one, with weird little items like this).

Change the nectar often. I always rinse the feeder with bleach water, since sugar water tends to create mold. Rinse it thoroughly, so that no chlorine residue remains.

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The only thing that we have canned so far is a unique Italian Red Pasta Sauce. We are hoping to get enough tomatoes from the garden this Summer to make some from scratch.

My husband always says that he married me for my sauce. There is a reason why there are very few people that he could have wooed in order to have this particular aroma of Italy fill the house with rich, spicy goodness.

First, they would have to be Italian. Second, they would have to be from the region of Calabria (unluckily, this inherently makes you stubborn). Third, you would need to be from the town of Mida. And lastly, your last name would be Melograna.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no Melogranas left in Italy. I think they are all in Argentina and the United States.

Poverty was wide spread in Italy in the early 1900’s and America offered unskilled labor jobs. Although my Grandfather was a Tailor and Musician, when he immigrated, his papers said Peasant. Despite this, he was able to work in his skilled trades. His family survived meagerly, but together, until the Stock Market crashed and his wife was taken by the Flu Epidemic.

My father was born in 1923 to this family that became a group of 11 total. His mother died when he was 8 years old. He was placed in an orphanage during the Great Depression. I inherited the rare name, Melograna, a family meatball recipe and a heritage sauce recipe.

Making the red sauce is a refined art that takes years to master. I will give you the ingredients and let you experiment. You can create you own special version of a homemade Old World pasta sauce.

Italian Red Pasta Sauce

Basic Recipe – Old World Red Pasta Sauce:

• Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes (use a blender to mash)
• Canned Tomato Sauce
• Canned Tomato Paste (made from Roma/Plum tomatoes)
• Olive Oil
• Garlic
• Oregano
• Basil
• Crushed Red Pepper

I discovered, by pure laziness, that this recipe worked well in a crock pot. Instead of the whole peeled tomatoes, we use crushed and diced cans of tomatoes. Normally, you fry the tomato paste in olive oil before adding it to the big sauce pan on the stove. But, after filling the crock pot up with the tomato medley, I float the olive oil on top along with the spices. It all cooks for at least half a day before getting stirred together.

This version works well. The color gets dark and the house smells edible for a few days. It is nothing like any of the sugar-laced grocery store sauces. You must like thick, heavy pasta sauce to enjoy this. If so, please give it a try. And if you are single and would like to attract a fellow sauce lover, just crack the window.

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