Monday, September 15, 2014

Adventures in re-propagation

I have experimented with all kinds of re-propagation over the last couple years. I even had a super successful celery plant that I re-grew from a stalk; it lasted for 2 years before it got some kind of gross bug that I couldn't get off easily. I mean that thing seriously hooked itself to the plant, and there were probably 30 of them, it was gross. I had to let it go for fear of my other nearby plants.

I’m starting to re-propagate some other plants this year in an attempt to have fresh food through the winter. I am also going to try a winter indoor garden, but that’s another post.

I should probably mention our pineapple plant. Chuck has been trying to grow these since college, and his dad was able to get one to root for us. We have had this thing for about 3 years. I have read that it takes close to 5 in order to get them to bear fruit. So I’m not expecting much from it any time soon.

For starters there were the scallions. I have had good luck keeping these bad boys alive for month on end, and just sniping off the green parts as needed, however no matter how many times I rinsed the roots, and changed the water, after a few months they always ended up slimy and moldy. This time around I decided to place them in a small pot after the roots grew a little bit and viola! They have lasted mold free for nearly 6 months. No complaints here.

I may try to do the same with some leeks and fennel this winter. I would love to have those on hand fresh.

Basil is something I have had great success with. Pretty much any basil cutting will grow roots in less than a week. It’s amazing how fast they grow. Once they have roots you can place them in soil and they will grow just like normal. I now have 10 basil plants that I started from just 2.

I have tried to grow ginger, but it can be a bit finicky with our cold temperatures, so my plant only lasted about 9 months.

I have never had success growing garlic from grocery store bough garlic; once the greens grow no more bulbs seem to form. I don’t know whether there is a chemical they put on them that causes that or what; however I have had success with bulbs from my mother’s garden.

I have had some success with lettuce re growth, but I never made it to soil with the plants. Right now I have 2 sets of lettuce trying to grow roots that I can hopefully put in soil in a few more days. I’ll be back to let you know how that goes.

PS: I just started a monthly newsletter and I would really really love it if you signed on. I promise not to spam you! It's just a once a month newsletter with my top posts from the month, some posts of things I have done elsewhere on the internet and whatever announcements I have. Seriously Join it. I'm begging you! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Yellow Tomato Jam & Learning to Can

I’ve mentioned before, rather recently in fact that my tomato plants have gone a little nutty. A few of them are even taller than I am, and they are producing a lot. I never realized how many tomatoes you could actually get from one single plant let alone the 3 that I have.

I decided to try a canning experiment this year, since the tomatoes are abundant and everyone knows how much better home grown tomatoes are. I of course went to seek the oh so wise words of the internet for a good recipe and method for canning these little babies, and settled on this recipe from Food in Jars.

I made about 1/3 of the prescribed batch, and the recipe for that is listed below. The sauce was amazing and the spare can I left out for tasting was gone in minutes. I’m sure this would be a great pairing for scones at a tea party, or mixed with cream cheese at a cocktail party. It’s pretty versatile and totally delicious.

Yellow Tomato & Basil Jam
1 1/3 pounds Sungold tomatoes, halved
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 ½ tablespoons basil, chopped

Toss the tomatoes with sugar in a large bowl. Let them sit for an hour or more and allow their juices to release. In a thick bottomed sauce pan add tomatoes, their juices and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes stirring continuously, until the sauce becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Can immediately, or allow the sauce to cool and serve. The sauce will store for up to one year in sealed jars.

I used the water bath method for canning, which I have seen Miss Amy do about a million times, though she usually prefers large batches. I think this method of just sticking leftovers into the water bath while I’m cleaning up dinner is a method that will work for me. There are always leftovers with it just being me and chuck around here, and this is a great way to get that amazing flavor year round, and stay a bit greener, which is always a bonus.

Since I am not an expert yet, (yes, I plan to one day be) I don’t think my experiences are enough to go by to tell you how to can things properly. Besides I don’t want anyone to get botulism on my account. I suggest using this website for the canning basics, it is a wealth of information.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Simple Burst Sun Gold Sauce

So. Many. Sun Golds.

Aren't they beautiful? They are so sweet and delicious. I’m thinking of all kinds of ways to use them in all kinds of recipes. This one so far is one of my favorites.

This is probably the simplest sauce I have ever made. I don’t even know if you can call it a sauce, since it’s pretty chunky, but it lent itself well to pasta so I guess it’s a sauce. I just had so many sun golds that were supremely ripe and ready to be devoured so I decided to roast them, easily with some flavor boosters and because I like them in their oozy burst state I decided not to blend them. Again so easy.  

I’m sure this recipe would work with nearly any type of tomato, but I like the bright color and super sweet taste in these babies.

For the ravioli I made those about as simple as possible. I have been experimenting with varying pasta dough recipes to find my favorite. I used this recipe this time around and found it to be difficult to work and a bit dry, but that could have also simply been the heat in this tiny kitchen in the summer. The filling was plain old ricotta, with nothing else, again because we were going simple here. I also served it with a Pinot Grigio for good measure.

I’m thinking that this sauce at least may make itself into rotation for our dinner parties, it’s just too easy. We might even have to try it over some chicken, or with rice or something. Experiments are always fun.

Burst Sun Gold Sauce (Serves 4)
1 quart sun gold tomatoes
½ a medium red onion, sliced thin
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-5 sprigs of thyme
Chopped basil for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine tomatoes, onion, salt, pepper and oil in a large baking dish. Toss well to combine and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to burst, and release juices. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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