Tag Archives: tomato

A Midsummer’s Night post

Yesterday I finished up my yearly technology workshop marathon insanity – teaching two different 3-hour workshops every day for 5 weeks. Whew! Please don’t ask me anything about Moodle, Google Apps, web pages, video editing, or podcasting for at least a month! Really, it isn’t that bad, but I do wish it could be spread out over the year instead of all crammed into June (with a little spilling over into July).

Mike and I went to Dallas last weekend and visited the Canton First Monday Trade Day (Flea Market), which is billed as the “largest flea market in the world.” This I can believe. It was an interesting experience, but Good Lord! Why do we humans seem to think we need all this crap? And as is usually the case, I only spent $10, and kept saying to myself “I’ve already got all this stuff up in my attic.

Aric and Mike seem to be in a competition to see who can brew the most beer. The boys are all about IPAs, and Aric has a Rye IPA and a dry hopped IPA going, while Mike is now drinking his American IPA, and is doing a Petite Saison session beer. Tomorrow he’ll start a Saison (Chimay-style), the next week a pale ale, and a coffee stout after that.

Garden Update:  Well, we’ve had some really wet, and relatively cool weather lately (the second year in a row that the 4th of July fireworks display has been rained out), but the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil are doing great. The beans are growing like crazy, but it’s been so wet I don’t dare mess with them ’cause I don’t want to spread a virus. I planted a variety of heirloom tomatoes found at the farmers market, and one of them is the enormous Pink Caspian. It is quite tasty, one slice covers a large hamburger bun, and it is meaty, rather than juicy, which means it makes a perfect sandwich/burger tomato. We also have a continuous supply of Grape and Black Cherry tomatoes. We just keep a large bowl o f  them sitting out on the kitchen table – super for snacking, and better for you than M & M’s.

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Lettuce be thankful Part II

Lettuce to transplant Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce Lettuce in pots

The Amish Deer Tongue overwintered very well, and in anticipation of the leafy deluge I have been scoping out more inventive ways of preparing lettuce. Last year I made lettuce soup, which we will have again soon. But today I made some Peruvian Green Sauce (Aji) which was easy, delicious, and different. Mike asked “Did you say this had lettuce in it?!” It would be great as a green salsa with chips, on tacos, with scrambled eggs, etc. I pretty much used the recipe from the link above, but added some green onion and lime juice, and of course used my lovely bright green Amish Deer Tongue instead of anemic iceberg lettuce. The success of this Aji sauce made me think of other things you could do with blended lettuce…

  • Green tzatziki sauce – Blend 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt, 2 Tbsp tahini, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 minced clove garlic, handful of fresh mint and parsley (chopped), 1 small head of bibb or leaf lettuce. [I made this today, and I think I’ll serve it with some lamb on Sunday, maybe along with a green rice pilaf.]
  • Very green spinach dip: Use the Knorr spinach dip recipe, but blend a head of lettuce with the sour cream and mayo before adding the soup mix and spinach.
  • Extremely green onion dip: sour cream, green onion, chives, garlic, dill, lettuce, salt and pepper.
  • Green rice pilaf, risotto, and sushi rice: blend the lettuce with the water or broth before adding to the rice.
  • Green tabouli: blend the lettuce with the lemon juice and olive oil
  • Green Alfredo/bechamel sauce: blend lettuce with a little cream and add just as the sauce finishes cooking.
  • Green mayo for potato salad
  • Green Caesar salad dressing: Ha! Lettuce dressing on lettuce…
  • Green bread (I should have done this for St. Patrick’s Day)

Last night I made two leek & arugula pizzas – one with a crushed tomatoes/garlic/rosemary/oregano, and one with Arugula & Leek pizza; Aji sauce a garlic and rosemary bechamel sauce. Topped both of them with mozzarella, and the “white” pizza also had a good amount of asiago on it. Mike made the dough for these, and I must say that the bread flour really was much stretchier and easy to work with, and does make a nicer crust than all-purpose flour.

Today was the first day of the farmer’s market, and of course we got there too late for the asparagus. The one grower who brings asparagus sells out within 15 minutes of opening (Hello! Doesn’t this sound like a business opportunity?). I bought three eggplant and four peppers from the same lady as before, who grows them in large Styrofoam cups and sells them for $1.00.  I also found a Black Cherry tomato plant at another stall, which I haven’t seen here before. I’ve already planted most of my tomato plants, but I couldn’t resist collecting another unusual one. Here are the tomatoes I planted last weekend: Cherokee Black, Black Krim, Black Prince (yeah, I’m totally into the black tomatoes now), Caspian Pink, Old German, Box Car Willie, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, Orange Oxheart, Grape, and a mystery volunteer tomato that sprouted in a houseplant pot this winter (probably one of those crazily productive yellow tomatoes). Still waiting to be planted are Sweet 100, Amish Paste, and Better Boy. Every year I say I’m going to plant fewer tomatoes, but I just can’t help myself!

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Chili time

The eggplant, peppers, and most of the tomatoes are out of the garden now. We left three tomato plants in and will pull them out when the first frost is forecasted. We have good luck in getting the green tomatoes to ripen this way: pull up the whole plant, or large stems with tomatoes still on them and hang them upside down in your basement. Check every day for ripe or almost ripe tomatoes. Last year we had fresh tomatoes into January by doing this.

poblano and serrano peppersAs you can see from the photo, we haven’t processed all of our peppers yet. I’ve made green chili stew, chili rellenos, and added chilis to about everything I can think of. Yesterday I dried some poblanos in the dehyrdator (center of photo). I ground some  of the dried red ones in my spice mill (an old coffee grinder). That’s what I’ll do to all the small green poblanos too. The larger ones I’ll char, rinse, ziplock, and put in the freezer.

The serranos I sliced and made a “refrigerator pickle.” I heated the leftover pickle juice (vinegar) and added a teaspoon of salt, mustard seeds, garlic, and a bay leaf, then tossed the sliced peppers in, heated to a boil, and put back into the jar and then into the refrigerator.

Tomorrow I’ll pick the last crop of green beans, pull the plants out, and transplant leeks, bok choi and mustard greens. The leeks and bok choi came from seed I saved this summer. The mustard is a different variety from what I usually plant – a red leafed type. Spinach and lettuce are now coming up, so I need to put some chicken wire over the beds to keep the neighborhood cats from scratching everything up.

Hey, check out Aric’s new brew blog. Some mothers want their sons to become doctors or lawyers. How boring!

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Late September

Autumn is definitely my favorite season – and what’s not to love? The weather has cooled so you can stand to be outside, you suddenly feel like cooking again, the tomatoes have recovered, and you’ve got eggplant, peppers, basil

Juliet tomato

Juliet tomato

and all your herbs goin’ crazy. We’re still getting the yellow tomatoes, but I’m more impressed by the Juliet tomato, which is a Roma type that bears clusters of 1.5  inch oval fruit. The one plant I bought has been very productive. I’ll definitely look for it next year at the farmer’s market.

Because I let some of my spring greens reseed I even have bok choi, mustard, and arugula to harvest now. Currently this is what I’m picking: tomatoes, bell, poblano, and serrano peppers, eggplant, tomatillo, okra, mustard, arugula, basil, bok choi, Italian parsley, four types of basil, and green beans (yes, I’m so excited about finally getting some green beans!).  The Delicata has little squashes on it, so I’m hopeful that they will mature before we get a frost.

I’ve also started my winter garden and here is what is up so far: beets, carrots, rutabaga, cilantro, fennel, arugula, bok choi, radish, turnip, and volunteer garlic. I have so much volunteer and second-year garlic that I’ve decided I don’t need to plant any more. I am watering all the seedlings with chicken manure tea so that they’ll get a strong start.

Because pepper plants are loaded down, I’ve been looking for some new things

One of the many poblanos that are ready to pick

One of the many poblanos that are ready to pick

to do with poblanos. They’re always good just sliced up, fried on the griddle, and used in sandwiches, eggs, and on salads.

Oh BTW, Matt has a new blog about living and teaching in Vladivostok.

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Golden gaspacho & seviche

Mike and I are in Tahoe right now, relaxing (at least I am relaxing, Mike is running, biking, and hiking at a frantic pace). Tomorrow we head to Monterey, one of my favorite places. A friend is housesitting, taking care of the garden and our pets. Most importantly, she is picking the tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant so that they’ll keep producing.

Last weekbefore we left on vacation it was hellishly hot, and when it’s 103 Fahrenheit at 6:00 p.m. you don’t feel much like cooking. Fortunately we had lots of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers coming out of the garden – perfect for a cold, refreshing, and slightly tangy gaspacho cold soup (also spelled gazpacho). Since I had all these yellow tomatoes, this is the summer of the golden gaspacho (also gold salsa, gold seviche, etc.).  I didn’t take a photo of this, so you’ll just have use your imagination. Yes, it was beautiful.

Most recipes call for you to blend your ingredient into a chunky puree. Although I’ve done this before, I really prefer my gaspacho more like a soupy salsa fresca – where each fresh vegetable is identifiable. Gaspacho demands good, ripe, flavorful tomatoes. If all you have is hard “plastic” supermarket tomatoes don’t even bother!

Chop finely:

  • 4 cups tomatoes
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion

Mince finely:

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 large clove garlic

Add to vegetables and herbs:

  • 1.5 cups vegetable bullion
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine and let flavors develop in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is best). Check out these other recipes here and here. Of course, Epicurious has a plethora of gazpacho recipes, most of them of the blended/smooth variety.

If you have any leftover gaspacho, re-purpose it the next day as seviche, also spelled ceviche. To the gaspacho add:

  • chopped avocado
  • corn kernels
  • jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
  • prepared salsa and/or sirachi sauce
  • precooked, peeled, and chilled shrimp (or scallops, mussels, etc.)
  • minced cilantro
  • a squeeze of fresh lime

Oh yeah, right before we left I picked a Black Krim tomato from the garden and we ate it somewhere in Utah. OMG it was good! Never be afraid of an strange-looking ugly tomato.

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Homemade PB (and salsa)

Homemade peanut butterThis evening, since it’s turned off a bit cooler, I decided to fire up the oven, roast some peanuts, and make some homemade peanut butter.  I’d purchased a 4 lb bag of raw,  shelled and skinned peanuts at the Asian market several weeks earlier ($7.00) and found the directions for making peanut butter online.

If I’d known it was this easy I would have started making our PB a long time ago.  I guess the main problem is in finding the peanuts at a reasonable price. Now Mike just needs to make a couple of loaves of bread so we have something to eat this on!

Saturday morning Mike drove around and collected 30 large bags of grass clippings for our vegetable garden. We mulched all the beds about 2″ deep and the aisles 4″ deep. Then it rained that evening (they postponed the fireworks  show until Sunday) and the temperature dropped 15 degrees, so our garden is pretty happy right now.

I made some salsa with the yellow tomatoes for a (soggy) 4th of July barbeque. It was consumed with great gusto, accompanied by tortilla chips,  Negro Modelo, Shiner Bock, baked beans, and kebabs.

  • 4 cups diced ripe and juicy yellow tomatoes
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced jicama
  • 1 tablespoon minced oregano
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tsp each honey and chipotle sauce
  • 1 tsp each fresh ground cumin and coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Strawberries!

mmm... with creme fraiche...
mmm… with creme fraiche…

We have been enjoying Ozark Beauty strawberries from out backyard for about two weeks now. I planted two flats last summer (6 six-packs in each flat, a real find!) as ground cover in the formerly shady part of the back yard. Mike has been picking about a quart every other day, and last night he put a batch in the dehydrator. These tiny intense morsels of strawberryness will be a great addition to the backpacking menu – if we don’t eat them as soon as they come off the drying tray.

An update on the garlic scapes: I made a yummy stir fry the other night with little strips of pork loin, scapes, asparagus, hot pepper flakes, mushroom soy, hoisin sauce, and and dash of sesame oil. Cooking the scapes tones them down, so they were more like garlic-flavored green beans. Tomorrow I’ll put a load in the dehydrator and we’ll see how they come out.

Volunteer tomato plants keep appearing around the yard, in the garden, and next to the chicken house. I’ve decided to plant them in the space reserved (next year) for blackberries, next to the new fence on the north side of the back yard. There is just something so exciting about volunteer veggies – you never know what you might get (sort of like raising children). I remember the year we harvested enormous banana squash-type fruits from a volunteer squash plant. I’d never planted any banana squash

Kale growing next to the chicken yard
Kale growing next to the chicken yard

before, so I guess this was a cross between a summer squash and a pumpkin. They were a pale pink, weighed about 30 lbs, dense, dark orange flesh, and had a very small seed core. I dubbed them “beluga squash.” That fall we ate a lot of (beluga squash) ice cream, pies,  bread, and muffins.

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