Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Penny Stine
Friday, September 30, 2011
If you planted tomatillos and are now facing a jungle like this, have I got an idea for you! At least if you're not afraid to get out the canning kettle or do some work ahead of time.
I made tomatillo sauce last weekend with a friend and processed 14 quarts using a hot water bath, preserving them for use in the winter. I had three quarts left and didn't want to process them, so I stuck one in the freezer and put the others in the fridge so I could make posole in the crock-pot this week.
Wait? Did you hear that? A thousand tiny voices sighing in ecstasy over the thought of hot, tasty posole, waiting for you when you come home from working and working out? No? Hmmm... I definitely heard something. Maybe it was the sound of my own drool dripping down my chin.
I developed this recipe after reading several others on the Internet. I'm sure it's not authentic, but it's pretty good and incredibly easy.
1 pork shoulder roast
2 – 3 cloves garlic
1 large can of hominy
1 or 2 quarts of home-canned tomatillos (you can also use home-canned tomatoes and add a bit more chiles or a can of Ro-tel tomatoes)
1 sandwich bag full of chopped roasted chiles (if you buy them and freeze them) or 1 can of roasted chiles
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
Garnish: cilantro, lime, radish, avocado, sour cream or shredded cheese
Chop the onions and garlic. Put the pork roast in the crock-pot and add all the other ingredients. Cook for 8 – 10 hours. Prior to serving, break up the meat with a spoon and pull out the bone. Serve in large bowls, garnish with your favorite topping.
If you prefer spicier foods, add another can of chiles, a splash of Frank’s Red Hot sauce or additional chile powder or cayenne pepper.
Here is what you'll get:
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I took a day off work so I could get some work done last week. I went to Rettig Farms on Orchard Mesa (thanks for the reminder, Carol) last Friday, where I picked two bushels of Roma tomatoes, one bushel of green chiles and a little less than half a bushel of red chiles. They roasted the green chiles for me while I picked tomatoes. All told, it cost me $41.75 and took about an hour and a half to pick all that produce.
Then I went home and the real work began.I’ve been canning with my friend, Jan of the awesome garden, this year. It doesn’t seem like work when you’re chatting and working at the same time. In addition to all the produce I bought, we had both picked all the tomatillos and tomatoes from our own gardens, too.
Yes, we had a mess in the kitchen. My husband complained that there was tomato juice on the walls.
Our goal was to can tomatoes, make salsa, string two red chile ristras and can some tomatillo sauce. Although we peeled tomatoes like crazy women, we didn’t quite accomplish our goal in one day. We did, however, can 21 quarts of Italian tomatoes (with garlic and basil), 14 quarts of plain tomatoes and make another 16 or 17 pints of salsa. It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we’d done all that, so we called it good and planned to get together on Sunday to deal with the tomatillos.
Sunday afternoon saw us peeling a few more tomatoes, chopping tomatillos and heating up the canning kettle once more. We added some garlic, a couple habaneros, cumin, salt, a little lemon juice and some red chiles to the sauce to give it a Mexican flavor. It’s neither green like the tomatillos nor red like the tomatoes, but somewhere in between. Almost the color of cumin.
We ended up with 18 quarts of tomatillo sauce and had plenty of time to string ristras while the jars were processing.
The sauce is delish, perfect for green chile, posole, chilaquiles, enchiladas, taco soup, tortilla soup with chicken – all those southwestern comfort food dishes that get you through the winter. I used a little bit of it (along with chopped roasted chiles, garlic and instant coffee) as a marinade for London broil last night, and it was way yummy.
Tomatillos will keep producing until it freezes, so we’ll probably make more sauce over the next several weekends. Jan and I both want to make another ristra, too, ‘cuz one just isn’t enough.
Btw, I bought some of the reusable canning lids that are manufactured at the Incubator Center. They’re more expensive, (I think they cost about $10 for a dozen – available at the Fruita or the Palisade co-op or online) but since I’ve been canning for 25 years now, I have no doubt that I will continue to can every harvest and I will appreciate having them next year.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, September 26, 2011
Last fall Getting Dirty bloggers reflected back on the gardening season and set goals for the next. I had three: 1. Redouble soil-amendment efforts, 2. Commit to perennials and 3. Install an irrigation system.
Now that gardening season is winding down for me (Seriously, year-round gardeners, I don’t know how you do it. By this time of year I am so OVER IT.), it’s a good time to see how I measured up. To cut myself a little slack, let’s just do a little pass-or-fail exercise, shall we?
1. Redouble soil-amendment efforts: PASS.
Manure, grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps — it all went back into the garden. It’s a little sloppy and I deal with some weed seeds, but it’s worth it. I didn’t do any fertilizing other than top-dressing with compost a few times during the growing season and I never sprayed pesticides. (Fruit trees, however, are sprayed by a professional.)
2. Commit to perennials: PASS.
After a dozen years of just tilling up annuals every fall, I finally added some perennials. Witness this little rhubarb under the apricot tree and 20 stems of feathery asparagus by the nectarine:
Next year I may add a strawberry bed, too.
3. Install an irrigation system: FAIL.
Note my well-used collection of frog-eye sprinkler heads. I still dragged hoses all summer:
Someday we’ll put in a pop-up sprinkler system, but other home-improvement projects keep trumping this one. Until then, we’re just fortunate to have irrigation water and can get by with hoses and ditches.
By Carol Clark
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Aching for a road trip, Olan and I set out early Sunday morning with a bag full of snacks to ward off starvation, fishing gear and perfect weather. Our destination? Lake City, to take a sneak peek at the beginning of fall leaves changing color.
Lake City is located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado at 8,658 feet, about 55 miles south of Gunnison on State Highway 149, and 74 miles north of South Fork. Ouray is close but a rough four-wheel drive Engineer Pass keeps this mountain town very isolated. While we were disappointed in the delay of autumn in the high country, we were thrilled to rediscover the charming town and beauty that surrounds it.
It has been many years since we explored this area so we stopped at the Sportsman store to find out what the fish were biting and asked them where we could stop for a great meal in "The City."
The Restless Spirit Saloon was the answer, and soon we were eating the best eggs Benedict we have ever had in a western saloon. Everyone in this place knew each other, except for us, the obvious tourists. Each person who entered was greeted by name by the grizzly bartender. With a population of only around five-hundred people and so secluded, everyone is bound to know just about everything about you.
The Baptist Church down the street dismissed and it seemed the whole congregation congregated at the saloon.We both thought about how wonderful and in some ways not so wonderful living in such a small isolated community would be.
Afterwards, we found a quiet fishing spot on the river and took an afternoon nap. Sorry, I don't have any changing fall foliage photos for you but I am open to suggestions for another road trip next weekend.
There isn't time,
There isn't time,
To do all the things I want to do.
With all the mountain tops to climb,
And all the woods to wonder through.
- Eleanor Farjeon
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I’m finally picking enough tomatoes to eat them every day for breakfast, make fresh pasta sauce, Caprese salad, bruschetta, eat them with basil and cucumbers and generally make a happy little pig of myself. These are all Virginia Sweet tomatoes, grown from seed purchased from Tomato Growers Supply Company.
Earlier in the month, my husband and I tasted and compared Sioux and Jetsetter varieties. Today, I brought a Kellogg Breakfast (pictured here) and one of my precious Virginia Sweets to work for an official tomato taste test and review.
I gotta say, I like the looks of both tomatoes.
In the garden, the plants are both huge – big enough to overgrow and overwhelm the tomato cages in which they’re planted. Both started falling over last week. I'm propping up this tomato cage with the stakes I planted for the cucumbers to climb. The cukes didn't grow up the stake teepee, but they are starting to grow in the tomato cage!
But back to the review:
The Kellogg Breakfast has few seeds and plenty of meat. It’s a very low acid tomato and doesn’t have near as much juice and general tomato snot that some people can’t stand in a raw tomato. The texture is on the firm side. Extremely mild, but good flavor.
The Virginia Sweet is sweet and tangy. Also huge and full of juice, seeds and all that offensive tomato snot and slime. I included one in a pot of fresh tomato sauce and the result was unbelievable.
Here at the Sentinel, the Kellogg Breakfast tomato won more fans, but my personal preference is the Virginia Sweet.
I've never been able to grow such big tomatoes before - they're even easy to find in the garden, although the plant made this tomato cage collapse, too. The giant marigolds are keeping the tomatoes off the ground.
Good thing I don’t have to decide today what to grow next year, because I can’t make up my mind.