Monday, October 22, 2012


I had a great crop of golden beets this summer. Here's a sample of the Touchstone Gold. Beautiful!


I intended to do a round of succession planting which is when you sow another round of seed after harvest. I was poking around my stash of small tools and other miscellaneous gardening stuff when I found them...

...seeds that had already sprouted in the package. Both the rutabaga (my son's request) and some left over 'Kamoulini 2' beet seeds had germinated. It's pretty late in the season to be sowing these, but why not give them a shot? I'll let you know what happens.

I did manage to plant my garlic on time. Our last neighborhood farmers' market was last week. I bought two heads from Let Us Farm (and yes, they grow the most amazing lettuce). Cecelia asked if it was for planting or eating. I said "One for each!" I am looking forward to garlic scapes in the spring.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Here Comes the Rain Again

What a contrast in weather compared to last week. I didn't mind what seemed like an endless summer, but I knew the party would end sometime soon. We're finally getting some light drizzle and my garden is trying to soak it all up.

I'm glad I took on harvesting every last tomato last week. It ended up being a larger project than I anticipated. I so many tomatoes a friend told me I should quit my job and become a tomato farmer. Not sure if that's in my future at the moment. As I picked tomatoes, I removed the plants from the beds getting them ready for winter. Here's a look at the harvest.

Grappoli d'Inverno--great for sauce and confit

Yellow Estonian Cherry--sunny cirtus flavored fruits good in salads

I hope you enjoyed these. Bookmark this page when you need a little sunshine this winter!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Green Tomato Pie

It's an annual tradition for me to make green tomato pie from unripe fruit. I usually have a bumper crop of green tomatoes. This year I had just enough for one pie.

Green tomatoes have a tart flavor very close to apples with a slight hint of a ripe tomato undertone. Where tastes and smells can resemble each other, the undertone is a hint of how the tomato leaf smells to me. Tomatoes are also known as pomme d'amour or "love apples" since they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. A little fruit history digression for you.

Back to the pie. For the filling, the tomatoes must be green without any hint of ripening. Don't use fruit that lacks shine in their skin. Since I grow mostly cherry-size tomatoes, I cut mine into quarters and toss into a 2 quart saucepan with honey or sugar or other favorite sweetener. I like to use a mixture of brown sugar, granulated (white) sugar, and cinnamon as my base. I squeeze a little lemon into it, finely grated fresh ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Rummaging through my spice drawer, I rediscovered "grains of paradise" and added a few pinches as well. Grains of paradise are the seeds from Aframomum melegueta,a plant in the ginger family. The ground seeds resemble black peppercorns in appearance and taste with a slight hint of citrus. Heat the mixture over medium heat. The tomatoes will lose their bright green color as they cook. Adjust the seasonings to taste once the tomatoes are fully cooked.

I used Thomas Keller's basic pie crust recipe from ad hoc which I like to call his "do-able" cookbook. While I am more than happy to enjoy the food made from the French Laundry cookbook (or better yet, in person at the French Laundry), I don't have the patience for even attempting the recipes myself. I'll leave that to my husband. There's no need to have two of us cooking like that. Anyway, here's a quote from the recipe.

...I believe that feeling comfortable making a pie dough is one of those essential skills any cook should have...

Well, my dough wasn't a disaster but it wasn't going to wow anyone either. Not that I'm making an excuses, but my 3 year old did help with the dough. He couldn't help holding the dough when we pulled it from the fridge. The crust is his favorite part of the pie--who wouldn't agree?! I brushed on a light egg wash just before it finished baking.

The final product. Green tomato pie...a farewell to summer.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tomato Harvest

When life gives you tomatoes, make tomato sauce.

This is a look at the tomatoes from my front yard before I disposed of my tomato plants for the season. The weather had been very mild for this time of year with no sign of rain in the near future. But, the nights are getting chilly...below 50 degrees. I wanted to get the most out my harvest before the plants start to slime out and the tomatoes start to split and overripen.

I'm pretty happy with the amount of tomatoes I have this year. I seem to always worry in July that nothing is happening with my plants, that they're just flowering and I'll have nothing to enjoy from my garden. This season, I have almost too much to keep up. I halved them and froze them in 1/2 gallon bags. When I'm missing summer in a few months, I'll thaw out a bag and make some marinara sauce. So much more flavorful than canned tomatoes from the store. Speaking of cans, you're probably wondering why I'm not canning my tomatoes. It's all about time. Cutting these tomatoes in half and sticking them into a bag destined for the freezer is much less time consuming than the involved canning process. Even the slicing the tomatoes took me awhile. I have tomatoes from the back yard to deal with as well. Stay tuned for that...

And stay tuned for the reason why I harvested green tomatoes. There's pie involved...