A use for everything

I am pretty obsessive about using every single item that comes from my garden.  My frugal husband is too.  Last year he experimented with cooking down the tomato scraps (skins, seeds, stems, watery juice) and then straining the mixture to see what would happen and wow, what a discovery!  When we are really in high gear we will cook down the meat of the tomato for our main sauce and in another pot cook off the sauce from the skins, stems and seeds and add it back in to the main batch.  We often get 1-3 extra pints with this method.  We have also noticed that the product from the skins and seeds has a deep, rich and tangy flavor.  Added to the bright and mild sweetness of the main sauce, the combination is a winner.

Today however I strained it once, added salt and am left with the most wonderful tomato juice.  This stuff won’t last a day.  From 8lbs of tomatoes came 5 pints of crushed tomatoes.

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Also canned over the weekend:  fig jam, pizza sauce.

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Paella on the Patio

64277_10152819152542455_6016745545764359741_n[2]This happened last night.

One of our favorite summer patio dinners – Paella.  It was gorgeous, and delicious, served with Tempranillo and a salad and the warmth of a summer evening.

Fresh seafood, rich broth, perfectly cooked rice, we all had seconds.  Goodness all around.

 

 

June: great weather and early food

strawberriesIt is June 10th and it feels like August 10th.  The sun is shining, the temperatures are crossing 80 on a regular basis, it is almost too warm to sleep at night and I love every second of it.  For once, the solstice just may be warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the long evening without blankets.  I am hoping this means we will not have to leave for the 4th of July to avoid rain.

In the garden it means things are well ahead of schedule.  It could mean a bumper crop if this weather continues!  We are already to the point that our garden is our own private farmers market.  What we eat is becoming more and more based on what is ready, what we picked and how it all fits together.

  • Tomato plants are bursting with fruit!  Will I beat my previous earliest harvest date of June 30th?
  • I pulled a bin of potatoes, my first and they were delicious
  • We are eating huge salads full of mixed lettuces (last years obsession) every day
  • The beans are sprouted and growing
  • The cukes and squash are well on their way
  • The strawberries are producing more than we can eat in a day but we eat them anyway

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Every year I try something new and this year I am attempting eggplant.  Eggplant doesn’t grow well here yet I found a variety that is said to do well in poor soil and growing conditions.  We have a lack of heat and sun that this night shade needs but given I love eggplant and I love a garden challenge I thought I’d give it a try.  Well, I took care of the soil conditions and I am hopeful that with better-than-average-heat-and-sun so far there is a shot at a few eggplant per plant.  To experiment I have 2 plants each in my hot spot, my raised beds and in the cold frame… time will tell where they do best.  Stay tuned for eggplant updates…

Hello asparagus!

asparagusSpring.  It’s arrived early this year.

That means my asparagus is up an entire month early.  Yahoo!!!  Does this mean the season will last a month longer?  One can dream.  I love asparagus.  It is my favorite vegetable. Sometimes I eat it three times a day when it is popping up so fast you can almost see it grow.  Had I known better I would have planted three-times the crowns in my little bed.  Did you know that asparagus just-picked, sliced on the bias, sautéed in olive oil smells like popcorn when cooking?  Asparagus is one of those veggies that tastes completely different picked fresh out of the garden.

Happy Spring!