Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ELC 9/07, Day 4

Ok, not so local, but we're using stuff up!
Organic Yogurt (from TJ's - package says MA)
Organic Banana
Local blueberries (purchased at RO Farmer's Market)
Homemade granola (local sunflower seeds; everything else non-local that we know of)

BUT! I now have oats, sunflower seeds and honey to make more granola, now that we used up that last batch. I think I'll still add the non-local pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, although I'm not 100% on this yet; it would be really cool to have 100% local granola....except for the cinnamon anyway.

I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver right now (so good!) and I was reading the tomato chapter while nursing the baby down for his nap and starting to think about lunch. We had 3 plum tomatoes left from our Farmer's Market bargain box purchase, so I made the same marinated deal as the pizza last night (local garlic and basil, non local EVOO, S&P). We cut a baguette in half (from 11 miles away) and spooned this over the baguette and topped it with the TJ's cheese again. AAAGH! It was the most delicious thing ever. And even though my husband did set off the smoke alarm while broiling (something to do with a bamboo skewer being used to prop the bread up), it didn't wake the sleeping child, so all was right with the world.

I braved a new recipe from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook, Chicken Fried Tofu. It was a big hit! We served with "Good Gravy" from the same book, and it was delicious. Super simple ingredients (local tofu, plus a little flour, baking powder, oil, and s&p), the trick was freezing the tofu, thawing it, and then refreezing the whole mixture for another 1/2 hour before you can fry it. So just a little planning.

We also had some garlic toast with local sundried tomato bread, and a simple tomato salad that I read about at cooking vintage. Delicious!

Silas stuck with dried apricots, local apple, local cheese and some tomatoes. He's a good eater, that kid.

Preserving the Harvest
So we finished up the homemade tomato sauce yesterday, and it is sooooo good! After letting the sauce simmer for most of the day, I added 3 6-oz cans of tomato paste to thicken it up and blended it alllll together with my handy dandy immersion blender (how I love that thing!!!!). Oh, wow. The sauce is a light orange-y color, almost like vodka sauce, creamy and beautiful. After letting it cool down for several more hours, I bagged 2 quarts for the freezer, jarred another quart for the fridge and jarred another 3 or so cups to send home with Magnifico. Yay!

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to look lovingly on my beautiful crockpot of tomato sauce last night. My husband and I were positively mooning over it. We did some rough calculations and figured that although the tomatoes themselves were a deal, with all the other ingredients and electricity that went into it, it wasn't "cheap" sauce. But hey, that fancy Rao tomato sauce is like $10 per jar, so I think the effort, time and money are worth it. To see gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that are about to be chucked into the compost bin magically transform into a ton of delicious sauce that will feed my family (and our friends) for several meals? Priceless.

Random Musings

I'm on the desperate hunt for local dairy items. I have a source for (non-organic) butter, milk (which we don't drink), and ice cream, but not so much for cheese, yogurt and kefir. After having read A, V, M and about how easy it is to make homemade mozzerella and other soft cheeses, we defnintely want to give this a try. I know one can make their own yogurt and kefir, but I have no idea how complicated this is, and I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. But it would be pretty cool to make all this stuff myself. After the high of making tomato sauce, I'm anxious to find my next fix...

Garden Notes
We're growing 4 different types of tomatoes this year (Yellow Pear, one called Sunbeam, a Beefsteak variety, and a patio variety). They are all doing really well. The Yellow Pear is absolutely crazy! We're growing everything in containers, because we weren't sure about the trustworthiness of our soil (we rent, and we heard that it has a high mercury content). The pear is in a small garbage can, like the kind you'd use in the bathroom (with holes cut in the bottom for drainage). The sunbeam and beefsteak are in half of a barrel, and the patio is in a 12 " planter. There are 10 or so tomatoes on the patio plant, one is just starting to get ripe. There is one red tomato on the beefsteak plant, with about 3 green ones still growing. Nothing's turning on the sunbeam plant, but there must be 6 or 7 good sized green tomatoes ready to ripen. And I can't even tell you how many cute little pear tomatoes there are! About 4-5 that are just about ready to pick, and about a gazillion green ones (ok, maybe like 30?)

We've also got 5 basil plants (2 genovese, 1 opal, 1 ruffly opal, and 1 pesto - little green leaves with white edges). The ruffly opal almost died earlier in the season because it was too shaded by the tomato plant, but I transplanted it and now it's trying its darndest to make a comeback. The other varieties are all delicious and doing well, as long as I remember to water enough. ;)

We are also growing thyme, oregano and rosemary successfully. Cilantro was not such a success. That thing bolted straightaway and then just stopped. Lame!

We're also growing 4 types of mint: Peppermint and chocolate mint are growing well in a bucket together, 2 pineapple mint plants are growing successfully in another bucket, and the orange mint is in a cheap plastic planter off in the shade by itself (it's the only variety that wants more shade than sun).

It has been so fun to have a garden this summer. We also had several sugar snap pea plants that we grew from seed, and they produced really well for the first half of the summer. We planted them in a half barrel with petunias, and holy moly, the petunias were out of control crazy about them! I think they add nitrogen back to the soil and the flowers were diggin' it.

Other than the peas, nothing else was grown from seed, but next year, that's going to change! Watch out, seed catalogs. I'm comin' for ya.

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