Smarter Than Pancakes

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What to do with ALL OF THE TOMATOES!!

Ok, so we bought four tomato plants, two of them actually lived, and of course neither living plant was the Roma or the cherry.  (Romas are my favorite, and I have an awesome recipe for stuffed cherry tomatoes that I wanted to make.)  That means that I now have tons and tons of tomatoes that fall into the “other” category.  For some reason, a lot of the tomatoes on one of the plants have turned black on the top and started cracking.  I think it’s because of all the rain we’ve gotten recently.  Fortunately, the other plant seems to be fine.  More than fine.  Prolific.  Exuberant.  Crazy!

So here’s what I did.  I decided to oven dry them.  I dried two huge trays of them, and then proceeded to eat all of them like candy.  I guess it could have been worse, they could have been actual candy.  I swear, I can’t resist them!  They’re really sweet, and kind of chewy.  They have this amazing concentrated tomato flavor, and I just sit and eat them like popcorn or something.  I probably ate a dozen tomatoes worth before they were even off the tray.  It’s probably shameful, but if it’s wrong I don’t wanna be right!  (And the best part is, they pretty much count as 0 ww points!)

Here’s how you do it-

Wash your tomatoes, cut them into 8ths, run your finger through the sides of the slices to get rid of the liquid and seeds, and cut off the bits of core stuck to the top of the wedges.

Put them on a foil-lined baking sheet that you’ve oiled with about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Lightly sprinkle with salt.  (You can also throw some dried basil on them if you’d like.  I didn’t this time.)

Put the trays in a 275 oven, and leave them for an hour.  After the hour, come back and shake them to loosen any that are sticking.  Put them back in the oven and let them continue to dry.  Eventually, you can flip them over if you’d like.

I’d say it takes at least two hours, depending on how big and juicy your tomatoes were to begin with.  They dehydrate down to little bite sized pieces that you won’t be able to resist.

tomatoes (before)

tomatoes (before)

tomatoes (during)

tomatoes (during)

tomatoes (after)

tomatoes (after)


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Veggie Garden Sundays

Filed under: gardening — shaye3 @ 3:45 pm

Ok, since you guys started this journey with me, I thought I’d start posting weekly updates on my little veggie garden.

When we last visited my back yard, I was getting ready to plant my seeds. I don’t know if I shared it with you guys or not, but I found out that our soil has a fungus called Verticillium Wilt. That stuff is kills all kinds of plants including several kinds of trees, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, several herbs, and rhubarb. At first I realized that my mint was turning black and dying when we started drinking a lot of mojitos. It was getting harder and harder to find mint in my herb patch that didn’t have black on it. Then I noticed that my rhubarb was all turning yellow and dying. That’s when I started doing some research in my handy-dandy Rhodale’s gardening book, and found out that it has probably all been caused by this fungus. I’m not at all happy about it. I think I’m going to take out the rhubarb bed and put in some asparagus. The rhubarb has been there for decades, but I can’t help but think we’d get more use out of the asparagus anyway.

We’ve had nothing but thunderstorms since the day I planted. I haven’t even had a chance to transplant my bell peppers or marigolds. Hopefully it’ll dry out soon so I can get back in there since my bell peppers already have blooms and my marigolds are seriously starting to outgrow their containers. For now, I haven’t even walked into the garden far enough to weed because the whole thing is so muddy. Because of the wilt, I decided to plant my eggplant in containers, but the seeds haven’t germinated yet so I didn’t take a picture. My carrots are still holding out, too. I hope that all the hard rain didn’t wash my poor carrot seeds away, but I’ve heard that carrots can take a while to germinate so I guess I’ll wait. I decided to chance my tomato plants in the ground with the wilt, so everybody keep your fingers crossed. Two of my tomatoes didn’t make it through the storms. My “Early Girl” got broken off completely, and another one bent enough to worry me.

Here are my transplanted tomatoes. I’m going to have to replace the one on the bottom that broke off. (The maple seed helicopters appreciate the nice soil in the bed, too. I have about a million tiny volunteer maple trees that I need to get out of there.)

Here are my rows of little green beans and edamame

Here are my summer squash hills. I had four, but something happened to the one in the upper left corner. If you look further up from that, you can see the Creeping Charlie weeds that are threatening to come down and take over the whole plot.

My original plan called for two rows of carrots, but I ran out of seeds after one row, so I put green onions in the row closest to the tomatoes. They’re just starting to come up. (This picture is blurry because they are almost invisible to the naked eye and my camera didn’t want to be that close.)

I need to weed and get the rest of my plants planted, and I also want to start some spinach seeds in containers before it gets too hot. (What am I saying? It’s supposed to be 90° today. Gah!)

And that is the fascinating tale of the first week of my garden!

Friday, May 30, 2008

My Attempt to Grow Food!

Filed under: gardening — shaye3 @ 7:58 pm

Ok, looky what I did today! I worked on our vegetable garden!

First off, let me say that I know I’m about a month late, but I figure better late than never. I also know that my backyard weeds need a mowin; but when I mowed yesterday, Steve and Simon were still taking off sod so I mowed around that area. (Also, for the record, we have so many weeds in the back yard because I’m afraid of putting chemicals down where the dog plays.)

I’ve wanted to start a garden ever since we moved in here three years ago, but this year we felt more motivated since food prices have been going up and up. If we actually grow anything, I might even try my hand at canning and freezing stuff to put away for later!

This morning, I got up and fired up the tiller and tilled the whole thing myself. (I probably won’t ever have to till it again, but there hasn’t been a garden there since before my husband’s grandmother passed away in the early nineties, so I figured it could use it for this first season.) Simon raked it out for me, and then Linus made footprints across a few times. They’re both so helpful! (Ok, Simon more so than Linus.)

After it was all ready to plant, I decided to come in and print some graph paper and come up with a plan. I already bought seeds off the internet, and I have four tomato plants, two bell pepper plants, and a flat of eighteen marigolds for the perimeter. You’d think I would have had sense enough to come up with a plan before I even bought seeds, but you’d be wrong. Oh well, this is my first garden in at least ten years, and something like my third garden in my whole life so I’m cutting myself a whole lot of slack.

Here’s my big plan:

I just realized that it’s not completely legible, so I’ll just tell you that I’m going to try to grow spinach, eggplant, zucchini, yellow summer squash, bell peppers, green onions, green bush beans, edamame, carrots, and four different kinds of tomato. We also have two blueberry bushes and a rhubarb patch, so hopefully you’ll see recipes that use all of the above.

I just pulled some rhubarb on my way in, so don’t be surprised if you see it in the not so distant future.

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