Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CSA Week 8 and the Tomato Stand is Open!

Well, it's arrived and it is definitely official. Tomato season has arrived.
Just in time for my tomato tasting and garden tour on Sunday, the tomatoes are ripening and ready and it's necessary now to pick everyday.
Lots of the tomatoes are going into the CSA baskets, some to stores and a handful of restaurants and Emily and Mollie have started attended the brand new Fenwick market from 4:30-&:30 on Wednesday evenings.

People have been stopping by too, but as of now I will have tomatoes out at my stand on a daily basis, and a few other things which I have in excess.
It will go like this. Get up, do the chores, walk the dogs, help my neighbour and set up the stand. Assuming I don't get sidetracked, I'll be open by 10 am and open for the rest of the day. Please do stop by.
The baskets today were full and heavy. I hope you eat well my friends.

They contained heirloom tomatoes, mixed cut lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, mini eggplants, zucchini and summer squash, mixed heirloom beans, onion and garlic, basil, parsley, summer savoury and a sample of a few more things like mouse melons.

The following recipe is from Andrea Chesman's "The Garden Fresh Vegetable Cookbook"....enjoy!

Pan Roasted String Beans with Warm Soy Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb beans (any colour will do)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 200 degrees
To prepare vinaigrette, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar sesame oil and black pepper to taste in a small bowl
Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, and swirl to coat pan.
Add about one third of the beans, cooking till tender( 4-7 minutes). Put cooked beans on a platter in the oven to keep them warm, and continue in the same manner cooking the remaining beans.
When beans are all cooked, return the pan to the stove and saute garlic, ginger for about 30 seconds, then add vinaigrette and warm.
Pour immediately over the beans and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CSA Week 7 and Pungent Green Beans and Tomatoes

I had some folks drop over today to buy some tomatoes, and as they waited for me to pick their bounty, they walked around the gardens looking at what was growing. When I arrived back to show them what I had picked for them, they told me how wonderful the gardens looked this year. And they are pretty good, although as the focus is getting to be more on harvesting, the weeds are starting to gain momentum.

"I've been working hard" I said, and they said that it showed.
But after they left I started thinking. I always work hard every single year. That's the nature of what I do, and I know that is why sometimes I get frustrated. I work hard some years and get results, but work just as hard others, and don't. Same effort, same money poured into my business, and I have so much less to show for it. The weather rules all..determines when I can plant, what I can plant, what bugs are around, what pollinators will arrive to work in the garden, whether or not the weeds will be a big problem, and how much I need to water. 

I'm thankful for this year being what it is. I'll take it. (It would work again for next year too!)
The CSA baskets were pretty heavy today, and my girls and I got produce to Bamboo Natural Foods in St Catharines, Churchill Meats in Fonthill and Valli Girls Meats in St Catharines as well. 

Baskets contained, yes, friggin' zucchini. That's what Emily said to call it anyways. 
Also lots of beans, primarily my test garden variety, a french filet bean called Mascott. There were lots of nice tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, onions, carrots or chard, basil, leaf celery and likely a few more items I can't remember now.

This recipe from Farmer John's Cookbook will make good use of some of the beans and tomatoes and has a good kick to it. Enjoy!

Pungent Green Beans and Tomatoes

Serves 4
10 cloves garlic, smashed
1 piece ginger (about 1 inch long), peeled, chopped
 vegetable stock, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 whole dried red chile pepper (optional)
2 to 4 fresh tomatoes, stems removed, peeled, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 pounds green beans, cut in half (about 8 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the garlic, ginger, and 1/2 cup of the stock in a blender or a
food processor; process until a smooth paste forms.
2. Place a large wok (or pot) over medium heat. When the wok is hot,
add the ground cumin and toast it just until it is fragrant. (This will take
only a few seconds—be very careful not to overtoast it, as it can burn
quickly). Immediately scrape the cumin onto a small dish and set aside.
3. Quickly wipe the wok with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove
any remaining spice. Return the wok to the heat; add the oil, let it
heat up for about 20 seconds and then add the whole cumin seeds.
After 5 seconds, add the dried chile pepper. After another 25 seconds
(30 seconds total for the seeds, with or without the chile), add the
ginger-garlic paste. Cook and stir the ingredients for 2 minutes. Stir
in the tomatoes and coriander. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
4. Add the green beans, salt, and the remaining stock. Stir the ingredients
until they come to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low.

Guest Post-Jo "The Sauce"

Tomato sauce.  The Sauce.  I always thought it was some daunting task, to be done in huge batches with canning kettles at the ready and all tomatoes set to be blanched, peeled, seeded and seasoned.  Don't forget your bucket of ice water!  You read a thousand recipes online and they almost all say you are supposed to take the skins off and spoon out the seeds.  Techniques and suggestions on how best to do this abound.
Paste tomatoes such as Federle or San Marzano are preferred and juicy sandwich tomatoes are pooh poohed.  Making sauce from cherry tomatoes or smaller varieties is unheard of.

This seems like such nonsense to me.  My tomatoes come from either my own gardens or Tree & Twig.  I know the skins are fine... no pesticide use!  I don't worry about ingesting seeds -- I eat them in a toasted tomato sandwich all the time.

When you google "Do I have to peel and seed tomatoes to make sauce?"  the answers vary from "yes" to "hell yes" to "here's how I do it". 

I am here to tell you NO.  No.  You don't need to take the skins off or remove the seeds.  You can if you want to, but I honestly don't see the point.


I  bought seedlings at Linda's Tomato Days this year for the first time.  We planted five plants at my dad's house and one at mine.  We're getting bumper crops -- tons of deliciousness and I've made some soups and salads, but I wanted to try sauce, and was pressed for time.

Also, my most productive plant by far is the Fargo Yellow Pear, and those little guys are about an inch in diameter.  The next most productive is Brazilian Beauty, and they are about two inches.  Lots and lots of little tomatoes.  Too.  Much.  Work.  To.  Peel.

So I cut off the green stems and any blemishes but other than that, I just throw them into my high-powered blender.  In short order, I get a soupy liquid, and I add some onions or garlic or basil and puree some more.  Put in a pot, add some salt and pepper, bring to a boil and simmer or cook on medium-low for about 45 minutes until it reduces to the consistency I like.  Today I added a lot of parmesan and it was...

of course...