Archive for August, 2010

Tomato Tomato Tomato . . . repeat Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Multi grain spaghetti with tofu parm crispies

The tomatoes are bursting and bouncing off their vines and stalks and it’s a wonder how we’ll use them all. Already The Hub stewed a few. I like sliced tomato and cheese sandwiches with a little mustard. A quick favorite is also a quick sauce:

  • 2-3 C. chunks of tomatoes (any type)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 T. fresh chopped basil
  • 1 T. olive oil

Throw everything in a pot and cook over medium til reduced slightly and garlic has softened. To this you can add onion/chard/spinach/peppers if you like. I’ve served it on toast with a little cheese as a pizza. Most recently was over multi-grain pasta. I also made up some tofu parm crispies:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into long cubes (1″x1/2″)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 C. fresh grated parmesan (I get mine from the deli section already grated for me)
  • garlic salt

Heat oven to 450F. One a cookie sheet pour 1 T olive oil, roll tofu cubes around in it with fingers. Sprinkle them with garlic salt. Take a pinch of parmesan and slightly press onto the top of each cube. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes til cheese is a little melted and toasty. (If it’s taking too long I will turn on the Low setting of my broiler to speed things up). Give them a try – I know there’s nothing out of the garden but they are really good – might just change your mind about tofu. One of my kids didn’t like the tofu, the other didn’t like the tomato sauce – I’ll still call it a winner.

Worth a hill of beans Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Soya Envy edamame soybeans

This year I finally had success with my edamame soybeans. They were planted by seed straight in the raised bed. The seeds were called Envy Soya beans. I picked them because they were an early variety (80 days) and therefore more suited to our shorter growing season. I’m happy to say it was true! The pods are about the same size as those you would get in a grocery store but the thicker brown fuzz of these ones makes them standout. I could see that maybe being an issue for some – it’s like a 2-day stubble – but you are only going to eat the savory, buttery textured beans inside. I have been freezing 1/2 a quart bag here and there as the pods plump up. Then they are easy to just dump in heavy-salted boiling water for about 10 minutes. You can then either let them cool naturally or do and ice bath to cool them down quicker.

Boiling over Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Stewed Tomatoes

Tis the time for preservation of the all-too-short season of growth. The Hub cranked out the first 4 quarts of stewed tomatoes. We have one determinate tomato (all fruit ripens about the same time) so we need to stay on top of it to reap the most benefits. Stewed tomatoes are quick, he added some onions too.

  1. Cut up tomatoes into rough chunks
  2. Cook over medium heat till desired reduction to intensify flavor
  3. Put into sterile quart jars
  4. Wipe rim clean
  5. Place on sterile lid and ring (tighten to slight resistance)
  6. Place in boiling water to depth that the lids are covered (sometimes it’s easier to keep it a little shallower and have a hot tea kettle standing by to top it off)
  7. Boil for 15 minutes
  8. Remove from boiling water and wait for the !POP! to know it is sealed – if one doesn’t, just refrigerate til you can use it.

Worst thing about the process is the residual steam when we are trying to keep our house cool and dry.

dragon beans

Other means of preservation: freezing

So far I’ve picked some edamame and froze them in quart size freezer bags. When ready to use, just boil up some salted water, drop them in for 5 min. or so, peal and enjoy.

Our Dragon Tongue Bush Beans are awesome. They are great fresh so I doubt we will need to preserve any. Even when they get big they are still good and not too fibery. When they are cooked though, they loose their distinct purple flecks.

One for the Wall Of Shame Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This had come in the mail yesterday, a couple days after The Hub had asked if I’d taken the garbage out lately. So I went to the backyard, got to the fence, opened the gate to get to the garbage cans in the alley and was, like, “Whoh?!”  when I saw this

Between two full-time jobs, two opposite schedules and 3 kids 6 and younger, we’d let some things slide. Those are the excuses I’m sticking to. We have 10 days to rectify this situation. I am actually glad for this kick in the pants and feel I should apologize to which ever neighbor complained. I’ve grumbled about other’s unkempt lawns many times. I guess our fence put this area of our property into the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” category. Oh well, I hope to post a finished photo soon. I’ve already taken a few steps to clean up the situation: a heavy-duty serrated bread knife seems to be the best tool for the job and I’ve borrowed a truck to haul away the debris, now to get my 4-month-old cooperate long enough to let me get out there and do it – that might be the toughest part of this job.

Mom’s all ears Monday, August 9th, 2010

My mother and father did their most intensive veggie garden bed yet, this year. I’m not talking every veggie under the sun, but moreso the care they took with amending the soil (compost, peat, garden soil), laying down weed barrier (cardboard), mounding the beds so they are naturally raised and planning and thinning and staking and watering and . . .  It’s a lot of work they put into it but they are now reaping the returns.

A couple weekends ago I helped my mom wrangle anther level onto her tomato cages. It was like (my new favorite phase) wrangling PJs onto an octopus. They were huge and loaded with green ‘gold’ just aching to turn ripe yellows, burgundies, reds and purples. And, the corn, ugh I’ve tried to grow corn a couple years and had 1 raggedy looking ear to show for it. But my mother’s are towering over her, golden tassles whispering the wind’s directions. It goes to show, if you put in the work can get huge rewards.

From another world Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The Hub has been the great forager / waterer / weeder and general wrangler of the garden. We’ve established sort of a hand-off. I start seeds, pruchase plants, plant, water, thin, weed and then he takes over mid-summer, with watering, weeding and the wrangling. I like the dirt, the first tiny weeds easy to wipe away with a scuffle hoe and the planning process, but I hate the sticky grasses that jump up over night in the heat of the summer, the mosquitoes and trying to wrangle a tomato or pumpkin vine resembles something like putting pajamas on an octopus – I get overwhelmed and flee. I think we make a pretty good team.

So, today The Hub announces the first spotting of a Charentais melon. It was the slowest grower of my vining crops but I’m excited to see if it will come to fruition. Since I was out in the garden already, I did my weekly assessment – walking around, seeing what’s growing, what’s not, etc. And as I was checking out a silly pumpkin, growing off a trellis I’d hoped the beans would use (they didn’t and preferred to entangle themselves into the pumpkin vines and my catalpa) I stumbled upon this fellow

There is something so other-worldly about dragon flies, even more so than other goofy insects. The lace-like wings, helmet-shaped eyes, reed-sectioned tail and dainty legs – straight out of a sci-fi novel. This guy was especially formidable with his wingspan wider than my spread-out hand. We called the children over and they got a look. It’s a wonder what I can find in even my little urban jungle.

Cucumber ramblings Saturday, August 7th, 2010

This is the first year we’ve planted cucumbers in our garden.  They are doing marvelous. I thinned to about 4 plants and they aren’t quite out of control . Unlike our beans, these vines happily climbed our trellis (an old slatted crib side). Our variety, started by seed, is great for slicing, sandwiches, and refrigerator pickles.

Some of my favorite preparations:

  • Pita pockets stuffed with seeded, sliced cucumbers, carrots and lettuce topped with a sour cream dill sauce.
  • Yesterday, I’d happily gathered reuben-making items from the grocers only to realize I’d forgotten the sauerkraut when I arrived home. So, I layered some sliced cucumbers in the cold un-reubens to at least give the crunch that was missing without the sauerkraut.
  • My sis made an excellent sliced cucumber salad with onions, salt, pepper, cream and fresh dill – if this is too heavy, opt for a more warm-weather friendly vinegar marinade.
  • Most often I just grab a freshly washed one and eat it like a carrot – simply perfect.