Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I blogged about green tomato chutney a week ago, when my buddy, Jan, and I made more than 35 jars of it. I still have bags of green tomatoes. They'll ripen in the bag, but they don't taste like a summertime tomato. They're still better than grocery store tomatoes, but when the weather starts to get cold, my taste buds don't crave sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob anymore.
So what to do with all those tomatoes in bags? They usually ripen in stages, which allows you to slice them when they get ripe and stick 'em in the dehydrator. I've dried tomatoes in the dehydrator for years, but this year, I added a new twist, thanks to my mom. She sprinkled hers with salt and pepper. I added garlic powder.
I've been slicing tomatoes and stacking the dehydrator about every two or three days. If I had kids still at home, (or an exciting life) this would be a pain, but since I don't, it's not a big deal.
I turn it on at night, let them dry all night and have tasty little tomatoes by the morning. They're usually a little crispier than the ones in the store, but that's OK, it makes them more snacky, like a cracker. I've been putting them in plastic bags and storing them in the freezer. Although I think they're sufficiently dried to preserve them, I don't want to give mold a chance. Since I can always find a bit more room in the freezer, that's where they live.
Seasoned dried tomatoes are great to eat like a snack; they're good in scrambled eggs, on a quesadilla, in soup, on salad, in anything where you want a little tomato zing.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 28, 2011
No, I'm not talking ancestry. I'm talking 'taters and carrots!
I dug these up last weekend, before the frost. Root vegetables are just fun to grow, like growing your own buried treasure. Gardeners who don't want to waste the space on potatoes and carrots because potatoes and carrots are cheap in the store can always grow exotic or expensive varieties, just to justify devoting valuable garden ground to the lowly potato. I grew Yukon gold potatoes (which are pretty pricey, in my opinion), a couple red varieties (and got a grand total of three potatoes!) and these cute little fingerling potatoes called ratte. I got the ratte seed potatoes from Amy Hamilton. (Thanks, Amy!)
The carrots grew from a seed mixture that was supposed to produce four different colors of carrots. I got more yellow and white than purple and orange. In fact, I don't think a single orange carrot actually survived. I haven't decided if I like the flavor yet or not. It's kinda' like carrots to the max.
If you don't grow your own, how else can you expect to get weird shapes and sizes??? Note the enormous Yukon gold that I'll be able to use the next time Hagrid comes to dinner and wants a baked potato. Or the three potatoes that are joined at the weird little potato-ey hip.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The problem with a garden is that so many homegrown veggies are delicious in soup and no one wants to make soup in the summer. The solution? Freeze, can and dehydrate, which I’m sure many garden enthusiasts do.
I made a garden turkey soup yesterday in the crockpot, which seemed appropriate, since it was the day that beautiful fall weather turned and became a harbinger of winter rather than a pleasant reminder of summer. I used the tomatillo/tomato sauce my friend and I canned, along with frozen Olathe sweet corn, frozen roasted green chiles and a few dehydrated tomatoes. Of course, I didn’t measure anything, so everything is approximate. Let your taste buds guide you.
Not your mother’s turkey soup
(unless you happen to be my son)
1 turkey breast carcass, with some meat left on the bone
1 or 2 cups turkey broth (left over from roasting the turkey breast) can also substitute chicken broth
water – a cup or two, maybe more for cooking beans
1 quart home canned tomatoes and tomatillos – or 1 can of stewed tomatoes
dried pinto beans – maybe ½ or ¾ cup dried
1 can black beans
½ to 1 whole sweet red pepper, chopped
half to a whole small onion
roasted green chiles, diced – equivalent of one small can
1 C or more of frozen sweet corn
handful of dehydrated tomatoes for extra tomato zing
salt and pepper to taste
I wanted to do this in the crockpot, so the night before I wanted to make it, I put the turkey carcass in the pot, with the water and the dried pinto beans. I think I turned it on high for about 3 hours. The beans weren’t totally soft the next day, but I pulled the meat off the bones (putting meat back in pot and the bones in the trash), drained about half the beany water down the sink and threw everything else in the pot and let it cook on low all day.
Note: my homecanned tomato/tomatillos are loaded with habaneros and garlic, so you might want to add a little more heat and some garlic to your pot of soup.
Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro or tortillas.
Sorry, I meant to take a picture last night, but this is what the leftovers looked like in the plastic container today. The turkey turned the color of ham, thanks to the beans. It was really tasty, and perfect for a cold night.
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 24, 2011
We’re supposed to get a hard freeze this week, so I went out and picked all my green tomatoes. Although they’ll ripen if you stick them in a paper sack, I already have plenty of tomatoes in paper sacks, and I don't want to devote my entire life to tomato ripening management over the next month or so.
So I began asking around for a good recipe/idea for green tomatoes.
Lynn Lickers said her sister made chutney, so I asked for the recipe. Meanwhile, I also let my fingers do the walking and googled green tomato chutney recipes. I found this one http://www.food.com/recipe/green-tomato-chutney-for-canning-385951 that sounded intriguing due to the curry, mustard and cayenne. I also found quite a few that were variations on the cinnamon and clove version of chutney – which my mom used to make, except she called it green tomato mincement. Lynn’s sister’s recipe turned out to be a variation of the cinnamon one, so I decided to try the curry version.
A friend got in on the chutney canning action and she brought over quite a few green tomatoes from her garden. We substituted some other kind of apples for Granny Smith because my mom gave me two bags of unknown tartish apples last week. We easily doubled the recipe and used extra cayenne.
We had three pots of chutney cooking on the stovetop.
We made 34 or 35 pints of chutney.
We still have green tomatoes.
The chutney recipe says to wait 2 weeks before trying it, but of course, we tasted it before we canned it. The vinegar seemed a tad too strong, but we hope that will mellow.
I tasted it yesterday on cold turkey and it was pretty good. I’ll be bringing some to the Daily Sentinel Halloween potluck, because I have 17 jars of it (plus more in the fridge that didn’t get processed).
Check back in a week for chutney reviews.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Well, the frost is on the pumpkin and the tomato plants are not looking too good. Since I have been babying my plants since February, I didn't have the energy to cover them with the first frost. Bye, bye, summer tomatoes. It was delicious having you.
I took this picture the morning of our first frost. It's three of my five beds. You can see the sad tomato plants and beans with frost. It is looking much worse now.
The pumpkin in the bunny basket was the only one I got from my growing a pumpkin in a pot experiment. I planted three pumpking seeds in a pot and got one pumpkin plant and a sunflower...? I don't know how that happened but the pumpkin plant did produce one small pumpkin.
The bunny came from The Daily Sentinel Christmas white elephant gift exchange. Nobody wanted the bunny that was found abandoned at The Sentinel. I thought he was darling and brought him home, (If this is your bunny, sorry, it is mine now.)
It was a fun, sometimes frustrating gardening year but now it's time to clean out the beds and make note about what worked and what didn't so when the excitement comes back again I will be ready with a new plan for a new season of gardening enthusiasm.
"But slowly and as always nature follows her own pattern. And mankind cannot change it - even in this super scientific era."