Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Jealousy, Thy Name Is Greek Freak Tomato

Jumpin' Jehosephat!

Our garden this year has been somewhat of a bust.

While the weather has been continuously warm and sunny all summer long, only the hot peppers, beets, chard and sunchokes have deemed it permissible to come on in full force for 2010.

So, I’m sure you can understand how green with (familial) jealousy I was when the Everyman’s sister in law presented us with 3 monstrous specimens from this year’s Greek Freak crop.

If you can’t see it clearly from that photo, that tomato clocks in at 2 pounds, 2 1/8 ounces.  Yowza!  It’s 2 accompanying brothers, while smaller, still helped tip the scale to over 4 pounds total.

Let’s just say with the piddly crop we’ve got on our roof, I was only too grateful to have something this magnificent put into my hand (and sandwich).

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And He Made It All By Himself!

Roasted Tomato Soup

As I’ve mentioned before, I do 99% of the cooking at home.

But several years ago, I got fed up with this arrangement and inferred that the Everyman should cook at least one of our meals a week.

Don’t get me wrong.  Out of the 21 meals we typically eat weekly, I wouldn’t say I prepare all of them.  On the occasional night that I don’t feel like cooking, the Everyman will suggest ordering in rather than cooking anything himself.  Then there are times when we go out to dinner or brunch, at least one of which generally happens once or twice a month.  I don’t go out of my way to cook things for lunches, but I am the one who packs up all of the leftovers with extras in the morning.  To put it simply, I do quite a bit and sometimes the balance seems more than a little unfair.

For a while the Everyman was cooking dinner on a fairly regular basis, and we even christened Thursdays as “survive the Everyman’s cooking” nights, since he’s such a fan of Survivor.  But for the last 9 months or so he’s been taking night school, so these survival dinners fell by the wayside and were more often than not replaced by a suggestion of takeout.  Obviously, not the ideal situation for either of our health or waistlines, not to mention takeout can get boring really fast.

As of this week, the Everyman is finished with his night school courses, so I was only too eager to chide him into returning to this weekly slot in the kitchen.  After a few gentle prods he obliged, so I give you the inaugural meal from “survive the Everyman’s cooking” 2010: roasted tomato and garlic soup!

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The Most Ambitious Project Yet

Garden 2010

After much deliberation (and a healthy dose of procrastination), I’ve finally selected and plotted my intentions for the 2010 garden.

It might seem awfully early to some, but seeds must be ordered, delivered and started before a springtime sowing in late May can be accomplished.

This year will be interesting for a number of reasons.

Primarily because I’m going to be trying to grow a couple crowns of asparagus for the first time, but I’m also attempting rare French strawberries from seed, as well as leeks, garlic and chard.

As you can see from my crude 10,000 foot drawing, there are lots of different veggies being installed, as well as a small bee garden that I hope will attract a healthy amount of polinators to our rooftop sanctuary.  We had a bit of a problem with the lack of bees last year, though I’m not sure if it was due to colony collapse or the overall shitty weather, but it can’t hurt to encourage them with a pretty flower garden.

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When Life Gives You Green Tomatoes…

Salsa Verde

For close to a month now, I’ve been patiently waiting for Indian summer to set in.

I’ve optimistically/delusionally put off closing up the garden in the hopes that some unseasonably warm weather would drop by and bring the masses of tomatoes on my vines to fruition.

But, with the Everyman and I leaving for a week’s vacation at the cottage, it appeared I would have no such luck, so rather than hoping for the best while we were away and potentially losing all of the tomatoes to frost, I sucked it up and stripped the plants bare over the weekend.

The damage?

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Snatchy Snatchy

Just One Of The Two Bushels

As nothing more than an honorary Italian, I decided some time over the course of the summer that this year I wasn’t going to “do the tomatoes”.

We still had plenty of canned whole romas and sauce from last year, and the bruschetta recipe I’d canned turned out to be one big, mushy failure, so it didn’t seem necessary to go through all of that dirty, steamy work again this fall.  But, as with all of my best laid plans, more exuberant intentions got firmly in the way.

And so, that was how on the 1st of October I found myself reaching out to every resource I could for advice on where to procure a few bushels of roma tomatoes.  The time of year coupled with our supremely awful growing season left me with some pretty slim pickins’.  Even my old standby, Fiesta Farms was completely sold out of their cache of bushels, with every grocery store I contacted between here and Mississauga all but laughing at me.  One gentleman from Highland Farms was particularly morose, simply stating the the tomatoes were all done, in a manner similar to one used to inform someone of a death in the family.

But, nobody can ever say I do things by half measures.

Wracking my brain for alternatives, I remembered the many organic grocers we’d tested out prior to settling on Bob a few years back.  After a few more calls, I found that Front Door Organics had two bushels of organic local tomatoes left, and in that moment I decided I was taking all of them.  Last year I processed close to 150 pounds of tomatoes.  This year, I was going to have to make due with 40.  Of course, the one catch to the situation was that in order to buy the bushels, I had to order one of their weekly “fresh boxes”, because you can add to an order, but a fresh box is mandatory.  Total cost for 2 bushels of tomatoes plus a fresh box?  Just slightly above $100.  However, I was only personally using 32 of the 40 pounds of tomatoes, and the fresh box replaced my weekly jaunt to the farmer’s market, so the actual cost for 32 pounds was $55.  Still steeper than last year’s $15/bushel, but these were organic tomatoes, and it was the end of the season, so I’m sure the price was reflective of supply and demand.

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Winding Down

Garden In Transition

The slightest chill has been in the air when I leave the house in the morning lately, which is an indicator of one thing in particular;

The Most Beautiful Tomatoes

Summer is coming to a close.

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Ne Plus Ultra

Sammie

Here, my friends, is one of the real reasons I go to the lengths that I do to take care of my unruly rooftop garden.

What would from the outside appear to be a rather pedestrian sandwich, is actually the pinnacle of summer indulgences for me; the toasted tomato sandwich.

Components

The bread?  Baked fresh Sunday morning.  The tomatoes?  A handful of sun-warmed San Marzanos from the roof.  And the bacon?  That would be a meaty plank sawed from the slab I cured and smoked recently.

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Diversity Is Beauty

Decathalon

Picked these from my garden last night.

Amazingly, even though this has been a pitiful year for tomatoes, mine have come through with a minimum of complication, aside from the fucking aphids.

There are a few other varieties that haven’t quite ripened yet, but these 10 provide a pretty good snapshot of what I’ve been nurturing for the last few months.

All varieties were chosen for their superiority over bland, supermarket cardboard tomatoes.

In case you were wondering, from left to right, we have;

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Anticipating Harvest

Third Jane Doe

At this time last year, I was up to my eyeballs in lusciously imperfect tomatoes.

But, like almost everyone else this year, my garden’s been slow to blossom.  About 2 or 3 weeks ago I was finally able to start harvesting close to a handful of mixed cherry tomatoes per day.  Even though we’re now a couple of days into September, I still haven’t tasted the first full size fruit yet.

Unknown

As with the red ones above, I’m not sure what varietals these (and the one below) are.  I don’t recall planting any white varieties, but these tomatoes seem awfully pale to me.  Perhaps they might be garden peaches…
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One Of The Best Parts Of Summer

Basta Pasta

Like most people, summer is my favourite time of year.

But the moment I look forward to most is the inevitable tomato boon that starts to overtake the garden during the first few weeks of August.  This year my own garden has not yet produced more than a half dozen ripe cherry tomatoes, but the farmer’s market has been a great source for supplementing my growing tomato desire.  Of course, once you have those perfect globular specimens, there’s always the question of what to make with them?

Summer's Best

I used to think I had a clear winner when it came to the best use of a ripe summer tomato, but then I met the Everyman who introduced me to the joys of a toasted tomato sandwich.  My original answer would have been a batch of my mother’s succulent and tangy bruschetta, but now there are Caprese salads to nosh (improved by the recent discovery via Malcolm Jolley of a local producer of bufala mozzarella), tomato consommés to savour (thanks to Lucien for that revelation), mini tomatoes to pop into your mouth whole and enjoy like candy, and my quick and easy, simplified version of a primavera/carbonera pasta.

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Flowers You Can Eat

Dinnah!

The Everyman and I had company over for dinner on the weekend, which necessitated an early morning jaunt to the farmer’s market to procure the appropriate supplies.

Whilst there, I came across some dainty squash blossoms at my regular heirloom tomato stand and though I knew they’d be too “out there” for our guests, I couldn’t resist picking up a clamshell for myself, anyway.

I’ve eaten the blossoms in restaurants before, but never bothered to prepare them at home.  After staring at them in the fridge for a few days, I settled on what I considered would be a complimentary, yet homey stuffing.  A lot of people will tell you that squash blossoms should be stuffed with cheese, or dipped in batter and deep fried, but I say no.  Instead, I modified a stuffing recipe that I often use for peppers, to produce these tiny morsels of delectability.

Blossoms

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On The Go

Just a quick pictorial to share what I’ve been working on with you…

Smoky Poblano and Pork Sausage

It’s hard to make raw meat look sexy (doubly so when it happens to be sausage) but these juicy links of homemade smoky poblano and pork sausage are just crying out for a grill and some Mexican-inspired menus. Tequila anyone?

Roasted Tomato Foccacia

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The Joy Of Gardening

First Batch Of Tomatoes

I put the first half of the garden in this weekend.

And, as is wont to happen with the best laid plans, I came back the next day to find a portion of my seedlings dug up by some wily rooftop rapscallion.

I also learned that if I want to plant my seedlings in toilet paper rolls again next year, I need to come up with a better method for labelling.

All told I planted close to 60 tomato plants this year, and close to half are unidentifiable because the rolls have turned black and almost completely disintegrated.  So, it looks like this year I might have a tomato mystery garden.  Which is a bit of a bummer because I specifically planted a bunch of new varieties this year, and I probably won’t be able to differentiate them.  I’m sure they’ll still be tasty though.  I’m just hoping that my pink zapotecs were among the ones that survived, because they look like such beautiful specimens.

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