Sunday, August 31, 2008

More adventures in canning

I picked ten more pounds of tomatoes this week. Watch the magic:

Tomatoes, red onion, jalapenos, dried red pepper, cilantro, garlic. Any guesses?

first step: blanch and peel, of course

after much chopping, mix all that stuff in a pot along with red wine vinegar and some spices

bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes

can it!

enjoy the leftovers immediately!

This recipe for "SpicyTomato Salsa" can be found in The Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It's delicious!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Pleasant thoughts" on tomatoes

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~ Lewis Grizzard

As expected, our first Brandywine tomato was just the beginning. Last week I picked more Brandywines and over 13 pounds of Marianas.
We're enjoying the Brandywines fresh off the vine. And the Marianas? Well, here's what happened to them:

blanched and peeled

We had a nice assembly line going from the stove to the sink that made short work of this task.

Then, I halved the tomatoes, stuffed them into jars, and processed in the canner for 1.5 hours. It was time-consuming, but so many of our favorite dishes call for tomatoes; it will be worth the effort come winter.

halved, in juice, ready to eat ... later!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The first tomato

Just half of the massive Brandywine Tomato I picked yesterday.

With dinner simmering on the stove, I went out to the garden to quickly pick some beans before the approaching rain hit. I grabbed a few zucchini too, of course (I think we have a lifetime supply going now) and, just as the first fat raindrops began to fall I spotted our first ripe tomato. It was huge, about 8" long and oddly crescent-shaped. But oh, was it ever delicious. We had some fresh mozzarella and basil on hand, so we made a very nice Insalate Caprese . The sweet, ripe flavor of the Brandywine Tomato was quite simply to die for.

In my hunger and enthusiasm I neglected to snap a picture right away. The kids, who think I'm nuts to take pictures of produce, encouraged me with thoughts that the camera angle might hide the fact the tomato had been cut. Well of course it didn't, so you have to imagine the other half of this; it was actually quite symmetrical.

I expect by the end of the weekend we'll be drowing in both Brandywines and plum tomatoes. I'm looking forward to doing some canning !

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Produce Aplenty

July turned out to be a busy month, so it's been quite a while since I posted here. But of course the garden keeps right on growing, and has prospered even though I've not been able to give it the attention it deserves.

We harvested our first potatoes on Saturday. These are Maris Pipers (white, on the left) and Desirees (red, on the right). It was fun digging them up, a bit like hunting for Easter Eggs or buried treasure, filled with nervous anticipation of what lies beneath the ground. Once again, I was amazed that nature actually works, even under the care of a novice like myself. Many of the potatoes are smaller than we'd like, so I want to research possible causes and make some improvements next year.

Zucchini, which just started producing a month ago, have continued to pump out squash large and small. The green beans have done very well, indeed. I've been pretty vigilant about picking beans regularly. I usually cook some right away, and then blanch and freeze the rest. So far I have put away 3.5 lbs of frozen green beans we can use in the coming months.

The tomatoes are large and plentiful, but have been slow to ripen, which is apparently happening to everyone in our area this year. Well, everyone except, thankfully, the Amish family that runs Briar Hollow Farm Market. I bought some lovely tomatoes there today and am glad they can keep me supplied while I wait not-so-patiently for my own green Brandywines and Marianas to turn a beautiful red.

Sunday dinner will be a curry using home-grown potatoes, peas, and green beans. Now that's what this gardening thing is all about!