Saturday, September 6, 2008

Food From the Late Summer Garden


It is a cool and misty morning, and we are trapped between a slow front that is the end of Gustav and the fast moving rainstorm of Hannah. Hannah is a palindromic name which is cool. And it am pretty cheery, as I’m getting some days off this weekend. And I’m using this time to get what I can out of the garden!

This time of year, that means tomatoes!

Let me explain this photo: There are various tomato activities which can take place at this time of year. The large white bowl is filled with ends from sauce tomatoes which are oblong and not actually very good to eat. Sauce tomatoes are usually hollow and dry and don’t have a lot of seeds. They are good for sauce because the flavor is really concentrated, and also there is less juice so there is less boiling down to get thick sauce. The big saucepan is full of quartered sauce tomatoes which have to cook about ten minutes before they are soft enough to strain for sauce. In this case, I’ll take all the cooked tomatoes and dump them into a different bowl and clean the stockpot. Then, I dip cooked tomatoes out of the bowl and into a sieve and let the juice and pulp go back into the stockpot. I like to stir the cooked whole tomatoes around in the sieve with a metal spoon to really squeeze the liquid out of it. I guess those saucers and ricers are really great for this, but I’m here to say a sieve is fine.

In the teacups are seeds which are being saved. I’ve written about this before. Things to remember: no hybrids, soak in water a few days to loosen the pulp, good seeds sink, bad seeds float. Seeds still need to be tested sometime over the winter to prove they’ll sprout. This year, I put a good amount of space between my tomatoes rows to avoid any chance of cross pollination.

In the little china serving bowl are two kinds of salad or slicing tomatoes I grew this year. The pinky pink ones are called “Momotaro” and this was the first year the seeds were available from Japan. The red ones with the yellow ring around the top are “Cosmonaut Volkov” a Ukrainian heirloom which I grew because I loved the description on the seed catalog and I’m Ukrainian on my mother’s side (with a little Georgian, and I’m Irish on my dad’s side, so people just need to watch out!) Cosmonaut Volkov tomatoes are really red underneath and yellow around the stem. They are really fleshy and have few seeds and a lot of juice. Just a surprizing fruit.

I didn’t put these in the sauce because we’re having lunch at my grandmother’s house tomorrow, and one of my cousins is going to stop by. So, I’m going to make a very special tomatoes vinaigrette which it will I share here:

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Stir together:

1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. veg. oil
1/3 c. olive oil
a few Tblspn. puree fresh herbs (or just use parsley)

I like to go for a walk and pick a nice handful of different varieties of basils, oreganos, and parsley, even a lovage leaf or two would be okay. I throw them in the little mini chopper and then just add as much as I feel like having to the vinaigrette.
Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces and let them sit in the sauce for a while before serving. You can throw more tomatoes in after they get eaten, and reuse the vinaigrette for a day or two.

I’m going to quit writing now, because I have things to do other than mess around with the computer. Though computer messing is quite fun. I need to pick some corn from the three sisters garden. Very exciting. I got an article from one of the local newspapers were a gentleman planted a three sisters plot at the Wilder Museum in Irvine, PA. Tho’ he used manure instead of fish. He had manure. I have fish. That’s why you pick what you pick!

Speaking of which. Don’t microwave corn. It’s a travesty.

Cook corn like Betty Crocker says:

Husk out corn. Put in a pot and cover with water till it floats. Add a few tablespoons of sugar and a little lemon juice. My aunt Teena just squeezes a whole half a lemon right in. I use bottled juice. Bring to a boil and boil two minutes. Turn it off and sit ten more minutes. Eat it. It’s good!

Speaking of which, and this is the last speaking of which: Freezing corn is almost exactly like freezing beans. Blanch the corn for a couple minutes while still on the cob. Run under cold water to stop cooking. Take a serrated knife and slice off the kernels. Toss them in your handy dandy sieve. (People should not have to go through life without a wire sieve, I swear, I use mine twenty times a day.) When the corn is drained, pack into zipper freezer bags and freeze. You can’t can corn without a pressure cooker. It will just rot in the jars and get you really sick. Corn relish is different, though, and you can just use a recipe and a boiling water canner for that.

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