an end to the summer season

The end of the summer means a lot of different things to me but right now I’m thinking about my garden. My summer crop is growing crazy still because I planted everything late but I’m already supposed to have my winter crop in! I don’t think it matters much as long as I get it in soon, like next weekend soon.

I learned a ton from my first summer season. Even will all the mistakes learning experiences, I had a pretty great crop. I’m hoping that means my winter garden will be just as good if not better!

If you haven’t read any of the garden posts yet, here a recap. -> I started off with most of my plants in the greenhouse where they struggled from the lack of light. I then moved the dying plants to a spot on the side of my house. I knew they still wouldn’t get the 8 hours or more of sun that they needed but I was hopeful!  And finally when I realized they weren’t dying (!), I spiffed up the outdoor garden with supports, mulch, and a drip system.

With all that progress, I got a lot in return.

I have 5 tomatoes plants which have given me well over 100 little tomatoes and counting. At one point I got over 50 in one week! I’ve used this recipe three times now. I’ve even experimented! I love a sweet sauce so I skipped the garlic, added two green peppers from the garden, and two tablespoons of sugar. It’s so good!

A couple days ago I found a behemoth. Look at this giant zucchini! You would have thought I won the lottery by the way I was dancing around with my ‘trophy’.

I’d only seen one other rotted zucchini before this one so I didn’t think I’d be getting anything edible. I was collecting tomatoes for sauce when I spotted it.

I’ve heard that they can get too tough and ‘seedy’ when they get too big but I sliced up half of it and made zucchini crisps. Cheesy and delicious.

With all this great crop, I still have some issues that I need to figure out. My peppers have a bug problem. I’ve been able to rescue some but the plants look pretty sad. I haven’t done anything to prevent bugs so I need to do a little research for my winter crop.

You can see in the photo below that some of the leaves are eaten away. Meh, I don’t like bugs!

I also still have that lack of sunlight problem. Look at what this tomato plant did! It grew up and over the fence all the way to the ground on the other side looking for sun. Poor thing.

I know the winter vegetables don’t need as much sunlight so hopefully it won’t be a problem this time around.

As you can see from the photos above and below even though they’re still producing, the tomato and bean plants are ready to go. I was hesitant a month ago to rip them up because they were still going strong but now that they’re a bit weathered so I know it’s time for new, winter vegetables.

This coming weekend I’m hoping to add in some broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens.

Tending to my garden is so fun to me. I’m learning a lot which I love and I get food in return! Such a great hobby. I’m excited to try new recipes with the crop too! I’m thinking soup and more soup. 🙂

What are you growing in your winter garden?

Advertisements

penne with homemade marinara sauce

Here goes nothin’.

This is what I thought to myself when I started cooking on Monday.  If Chef Sam and Lauren can wing it, so can I!  I was super inspired by them after this past weekend.

I didn’t really ‘wing’ it though, I just attempted something I’ve never done before.  This is BIG for me since I’ve been sticking to leftovers and the same simple recipes for over a month.

So listen to this.

Instead of buying a jar of pasta sauce… I made my own.  I didn’t buy a can of tomatoes and then add spices, I used fresh tomatoes and made the whole dang thing.  Everything from scratch!

First I found these instructions and learned how to blanch my tomatoes for the sauce.

Blanching and braising are words I had heard on the Food Network but never really knew what they were.  This is sad yet true but now I’ve done one! I’m a little proud.

I had one big tomato leftover from the SOJ Chef Demo and a ton of cherry (?) tomatoes leftover from our CSA box.

I began the process by slicing an X on the top of each of the tomatoes.  This makes it easier to peel the skin off once they’ve been blanched.

Then I cooked them in boiling water for about 1 minute.

After that I immediately removed them from the pot and dumped them into a bowl filled with ice cold water to stop the cooking process.  Does anyone know why you need to stop the cooking?  Just wondering.

Then I peeled off the skin which took forever but I didn’t mind.  I find cooking to be quite relaxing!  And I know that next time when I use big tomatoes it won’t take me much time at all.

Once they were all peeled and very slimy, I roughly chopped them into bit size pieces.

Time to start the sauce.  I found this super simple recipe from Cooking Light.

I only had basil and garlic left to prep once the tomatoes were done.  I’m a dried herbs kinda gal but this fresh basil really made a difference!

Hi Roary!

Everything went into the pot (per the recipe) to cook for 25 minutes.  When it had about 10 minutes left, I cooked up the penne pasta for about 8 minutes.

After I was done, I ran off to yoga while Al came home to eat the dish by himself.  I came back to a positive review!  Often times he tells me a dish is good when really it’s not that great but this sauce was very tasty.  I added extra garlic and spices because we like it that way so there was a great kick to it.

So tasty, so healthy, so fresh.

Do you have a specialty that you make from scratch?

P.S. If you’re like my mom and don’t like chunky sauce, just use an immersion or regular blender to smooth it out!

SOJ chef demo

Good morning!

This past Saturday I got the chance to assist Chef Sam Baker at the South of the James Market. Lauren, the blogger over at Vegology, gave me the chance to be her substitute that day. Free food and education? Um, yes!

Chef Sam created four delicious dishes using lots of summery fruits and tomatoes. All the recipes were super quick and easy which I love. I wrote about my adventure over at her blog. Feel free to check it out! -> Guest Post! SOJ Chef Demo 07.28.12

I hope you have a lovely start to the week! Look out for a new recipe post on Wednesday.