Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

I can’t take any credit for today’s recipe, except that I had the good sense to latch onto it when I spotted it.  Whether it’s the beginning or the end of the tomato harvest, there’s always a batch of tomatoes that isn’t big enough to can, but too many to eat fresh, and they’re too good to let sit around and spoil.  The solution?  Fire up your oven (that’s the downside), pull out your meat roaster or your broiler’s drip pan or any other heavy, deep pan (you can use a glass cake pan, but the oven temp is high and I get nervous with modern glass bakeware and high temperatures.)

And then make sure you’ve got a food mill.  Don’t have one? Borrow one from your grandma or your elderly neighbor.  Or buy one if you can find one (my food mill hunt took me all over Murfreesboro and Smyrna before I found one on the back shelf of an off-the-beaten-path  hardware store where they had to wipe the dust off the box to read the price tag.)  Hmmm, now that I think about it, you might want to round up the food mill first!

And the best part of all? No boiling water, peeling or slipping the skins or coring.  You just coarsely chop them and roast them.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

2 quarts (give or take) ripe tomatoes; washed and stems removed, then quartered
2-3 onions, coarsely chopped
4-5 peppers (sweet or hot), coarsely chopped (leave the seeds for heat; remove for less heat)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves, diced) or more to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 teaspoons of basil, oregano or mixed Italian herbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 450.  Place all vegetables in roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil (and herbs if desired); gently toss to coat.  Place in oven and roast for 2-3 hours or until the top is blackened and any juices have become thick and caramelized.  Allow to cool completely (I often throw mine in the refrigerator overnight to chill), then run through the food mill, about a cup at a time.  The roasted sauce can be placed in heavy ziplock bags or other plastic freezer containers  – I ration mine into 6-ounce servings, which is the perfect amount to make two homemade pizzas; freeze.  Makes approximately 6, 6-ounce servings but your mileage may vary depending on the size and juicy-ness of your tomatoes and the volume of other vegetables you added.

The concentrated sauce can be used as the base for traditional Bolognese, marinara or vodka spaghetti sauce.  It will need to be mixed with fresh or canned diced tomatoes, cream (optional) and seasoned with additional herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  I use my sauce as-is as a pizza sauce and it gets rave reviews every time.  If I could just find the perfect pizza crust recipe, I could take the pizza guys out of my cell phone’s directory!

Happy cooking and canning!

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It’s hard to believe we’re already at the threshhold of “late summer” – WHERE has the time gone!  My garden was a tangled jungle this week, after a couple weeks of letting Mother Nature take care of things. (At least she watered.)

This week, I managed to get everything untangled and I tossed the rain-rotten tomatoes to the emus across the fence.  It nearly caused a food fight between the cows and emus…guess they ALL like tomatoes and not everyone was in a sharing mood.

Everything is coming along nicely, except the zucchini plant – it appears to be two zucchinis and done.  (I may be the only gardener who cannot seem to harvest more than a couple zucchinis off a plant…most people have them running out the wazoo.)

The yellow cheese peppers are putting on. Cheese peppers are intended to be dried and made into paprika but their squatty shape makes them good for stuffing, too.yellow cheese pepper

Not to be outdone, the purple jalapenos have put on a flush of new flowers and fruit – which is good, considering our heat wave did in the first wave of fruit.
purple jalapeno
Jimmy Nardello appears to be a frying pepper, and we’re going to invite him for dinner soon.

Jimmy Nardello pepper

Over in the pumpkin patch, I’ve got two of these cute ‘Cotton Candy’ white pumpkins growing like weeds

Cotton Candy pumpkin

And the ‘Sweet Dumpling’ squash are also coming along nicely.

sweet dumpling squash

Tomato-wise, by the time I snapped these pics I had harvested most of the ripe tomatoes, but I found several ‘Hazelfield Farm’ ‘maters waiting for me and the camera.  One is wedged in tight..it took some doing to ease it out without mangling the fruit or the plant:hazelfield farm tomato
Don’t tell her, but ‘Eva Ball Purple’ is umm, not purple.  But her fruit are pretty…the old-fashioned juicy kind of slicing tomato we love on a BLT.
eva ball purple tomato
Here’s this week’s haul. It’s not enough to make salsa, so later today I’ll roast all but a few of them, leaving some for sandwiches this weekend.

No pics this week, but the potatoes are ready to be forked up – I’m excited to see how much of a crop I got from the “potato tower” this year.

The lettuce has finally gone to head, so I shared the pulled-out plants with the emus. They liked it, but not as much as they do tomatoes.

I hope your garden is putting on a show for you, too!

Happy gardening!



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I usually take my weekly pics on Thursday evening but last Thursday I was watching it rain.  (Yay!!!!)  And for several other reasons, that meant I didn’t get a chance to take pictures until this morning.  Up before 6, I was shooting pictures and then hurrying to get Swimmer Girl on our church bus for a week-long mission campaign trip.

Then Mr. Official and I spent quality time at our old house, getting the landscaping shaped up so we can rent it again. (Another long story.)

So I’m just now sitting down and editing this week’s photos.

It’s a “that’s good, that’s bad” kind of story.  Our record-breaking temperatures have taken a toll on the “first fruits” and caused a few problems.

Like this pepper – it’s supposed to be orange

but it’s not supposed to have a soft rotten spot on the bottom.

The same for this tomato which looks perfect from up top,

but not so attractive when you flip it over.

Here’s my one okra (the rabbits continue to nosh.)  Mr. Official contends it’s poor soil also taking a toll, so I think I’ll plant a cover crop along this area, and look for okra to pickle at the farmers’ market.

The cucumbers

and squash are plugging along, although I’m on guard against beetle and borer problems with them.

The radishes never really took off – the spring temperatures were too high. 

But the onions and carrots are doing okay.

And there have been some bright spots – the Black Krims are almost ripe

And Jimmy Nardello

is a funny fellow

The Sugar Sweeties are proving prolific:

So how is your garden doing?  I’m afraid some of my earliest ripening tomatoes will suffer from blossom-end-rot;  a combination of clay soil and our strange spring and heatwave.  But we’ll keep plugging along – and enjoying the fruits of our labors!

Happy gardening,

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An apt title for three reasons:

1. On a positive note, this week brought one of those annual milestones every gardener anticipates:  the tomatoes needed staking. Well, technically, they needed tied up to their stakes, since the stakes are already in place.

2. The beans are continuing to get a nightly haircut thanks to my resident rabbit.  I’m quickly depleting my surplus of blood meal and ground pepper (good excuse to buy more, I guess.)  Next week, I’m going to try a homemade spray with egg and pepper to see if I can’t deter the pest long enough to get the beans to a tougher and less-tempting stage.

3.  You’ll have to close your eyes and imagine pictures this week.  I *had* pictures I snapped yesterday afternoon before we headed out the door (I’m writing this en route to Oklahoma.)  I downloaded them to Picasa, and  instructed it to delete everything off the photo card once the download was complete. Picasa warned me that it couldn’t be undone – was I sure?  Sure I was sure.  I thought.  The download finished, and I had 25 new pics, but not the ones I snapped yesterday.  Sigh.

Anyhoo, the tomatoes are nice, sturdy plants and growing well.  The next few weeks will find me adjusting their ties ever upward.  Now to see some blooms and then fruit should start to appear. It’s a race against the thermometer and calendar at this point:  how quickly can we get blooms pollinated and fruit setting before the nighttime temps start to drift high enough to halt the production process?    I was grateful for the cooler evening temps we experienced earlier this week – a cool breeze is great for sleeping and for the ‘maters. But temps this weekend are supposed to climb close to the century mark and overnight temperatures won’t get as cool, either.

The potatoes are continuing to shoot up daily – I’m hoping they’re making lots of little tubers (tater tots?) beneath that blanket of straw and dirt.

One little row of radishes is growing fine while the other is struggling – my guess is it’s  a nutrient deficiency and possibly a low pH issue going on in this raised bed.  I’ve added some wood ash and alfalfa tea in an effort to introduce some gentle nitrogen and raise the pH but so far, the  affected plants aren’t responding to my overtures.

The okra are continuing to grow up and out, and the chard and fennel are putting out new growth and settling into their new homes.

My bird netting is probably not pinned down tightly enough to keep the truly persistent birds out of the berries, so note to self is to get some landscape fabric pins to secure it.

And that’s this week’s crop report.  Next week, pictures.  And soon, there WILL be actual crops to discuss!
Happy gardening,

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Okay, so has anyone else considered the irony of the word crop?  You crop (cut) your hair, but you grow crops.  No wonder our language is so difficult to master. Anyway. here’s my third crop report. Still no “crops” to report, but things are growing.

In the vegetable garden, the okra has popped up:


As have the beans, pumpkins and squash:

beans and squash

The potatoes have sprouted (yes, that’s a joke) and are ready to be mulched again in my experimental “vertical” planting system.
The countdown is on:  they should be ready to dig by July.

And I am not sure if this is a cuke or zuke.  I planted one at the end of one tomato bed, and the other at the end of the pepper bed.
Ordinarily it wouldn’t matter much but the other one has not sprouted. So do I replant cuke? Or zuke?
This is why we should mark our plants, boys and girls.

cuke or zuke
In the raised beds, the everbearing strawberries are starting to ripen and I now have little lettuces growing on either side of them.
This bed gets filtered sunlight for most of the morning, which may not be ideal for the berries, but the lettuce will love it.

strawberries and lettuce

And last week, we had to imagine the radishes, carrots and onions in this bed. Now if we peer really closely we can see them.

radishes and carrots
I have a new garden companion. His name is Peter. And he is one fat, furry cottontail.
I watched him waddle through the garden last evening.
Unfortunately, my fat furry dog is too lazy to chase him, so this is what he’s doing to my beans:

half-eaten beanstalk

Apparently he likes THIS kind of purple bean leaf better than the other purple bean leaf.  Hmmm.

So that’s the crop report for this week.  In the next week or two we should be seeing bigger plants and maybe even some blooms on the tomatoes and peppers.  Maybe.

Happy gardening,

P.S. After I scheduled this, I stumbled over this blog, which has a side-by-side photo of cuke and zuke seedlings.  Guess the sprout is a zuke, and I need to retry the cukes.

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Since there are no crops to report yet, this is an update on landscaping and vegetable gardening, all rolled into one.  (It was either that, or a short post with a picture that looked just like last week’s crop report.

Last week, I got all almost all of the vegetable garden in.  As well as most of the landscaping plants in my new cutting border beds.  I was a planting fool, and here are the pics to prove it.  This is the  bed to the south of the gate.  (And here’s the before shot, right after Mr. Official tilled it up for me.)

border shot #1

And  here’s the bed to the north side of the gate:

Border garden #2

Okay, hold on.

I know what you’re thinking.

At least I think I know what you might be thinking, because I thought it, too.

Something along the lines of, “Wow, all that work and all those plants, and it looks like that?” Yeah. Some days I wish gardening were like buying furniture.  You go to the store, you find what you like, you have it delivered and that’s it; you’re done.  But gardening doesn’t work that way – and these plants WILL fill in over the next few weeks and months.

And in another week or so, the shots will show mulch and edging, which will make the beds look tidy and more cohesive.  It’s a process.

fig tree with frosty leaves

“The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit..” (Proverbs 27:18)

After all that, I went and bought more plants last Saturday (can we say glutton for punishment?)  By then the weather had turned rather chilly and nasty and stayed that way for a few days.  The fig tree sulked after the chilly nights.  It was still recovering from the last nip of frost we got.  But it’ll get over it; in fact, it’s already pushing out more leaves.  Will we get figs this year? I’m not holding my breath.

Midweek, it warmed up again and I got busy setting out the new plants.  Here’s the new north-facing shade bed filled with Heucheras and Hostas.  There are still a few bare spots, but never fear.  More hostas will fill them up soon.  I saw a tweet from Southbranch Nursery saying they just got in a new shipment of stuff.  And I haven’t slipped over the Valley View and the Farmer’s Co-op garden centers yet.

shade bed

Now I can honestly say the majority of the vegetable garden IS in for the year:  carrots and radishes are planted in between rows of sweet onions in one of the elevated beds.  (Hopefully the loose, fertile soil conditions of that bed will help my odds of raising edible, good-tasting root crops this year.)  You have to use your imagination to see them, but I promise there are seeds and onion bulbs in there.

raised bed for carrots and onions

The other elevated bed now boasts everbearing strawberries:everbearing strawberries

The windy conditions mean almost constant misting to keep the new seeds and seedlings moist and growing; in fact I had to replant one pepper seedling that dried up and withered away before I could grab the hose and spray it.

And I’m still waiting on the nasturtiums and lettuce to get big enough to set out.  (In other news, the cat finds nasturtium leaves are quite tasty.  We will henceforth refer to her as “La Gata de Gourmand.”  The nasturtiums are now outside and safe from the cat and her penchant for nibbling on my seedlings.)

nasturtium and lettuce seedlings
The weather forecasts are very spring-like for the next week or so: highs in the 70s and 80s, lows in the mid-50s to 60-ish.  Some days sunny, some will be overcast days with a chance of rain (perfect conditions for new transplants and seedlings…and gardeners.)

Hopefully I’ll have radishes showing up soon so I will have some real crops for the weekly show and tell.

Happy gardening,

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