Sunday, July 27, 2014

Too Many Tomatoes??? Never!

I don’t know about you but I’m getting a little nervous about the bounty of tomatoes I may be dealing with in the next couple of weeks. I suppose I went overboard when planting time finally arrived in late Spring. Let’s face it, I planted way too many tomatoes. All kinds of tomatoes! Although, quite frankly, I don’t remember all their names. I know there are grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes and a few sandwich tomato plants.

In fact, my plan for today was to attempt to chart the plethora of tomatoes available to home gardeners. Well, that’s not happening today! It seems, the varieties are endless and if you start divvying them up into hybrids and heirlooms, Whew, way to much organizing for this tiny brain:) I would love to attempt it one day, but not today:) Instead, I thought I would share some of the recipes I’m considering for harvest time.

It might sound crazy but I’m on the road to finding the “perfect” tomato smoothie. You heard me right, lol…When you think about it, the tomato, botanically speaking that is, is a fruit. We all know how yummy smoothies are when they are made with our favorite berry. And yes, tomatoes are actually classified as berries. Doesn’t sound too crazy now, does it? To be sure of my theory, I did a quick search for some Tomato Smoothie recipes:

1. Iced Tomato Smoothie-compared to V8 but “tastes fresher.”
2. Orange Tomato Smoothie
3. Cherry & Grape Tomato Smoothie

I also found one in the tasty cookbook pictured above; Tomatoes & Mozzarella.

While I was in search of a tomato based thirst quencher, I came across a rather interesting recipe for Sangrita in my slightly tattered copy of The Art of Mexican Cooking. (notice the spelling is not for Sangria:)

Real Sangrita from the Lake Chapala region of Jalisco is made with Seville orange and pomegranate juices, with powdered chiles added for heat. (How to Make Sangrita.)

Here’s a recipe for that “Tasty Tequila Companion” from The Art of Mexican Cooking published in 1965.

Have I mentioned Roma tomatoes, which I usually refer to as “plum” tomatoes? Plum tomatoes are best for sauces, purees, tomato paste, and canning. Who am I kidding, I don’t see me canning tomatoes any time soon:) I do however love the freshness of Summer tomato sauce and freezing tomato paste is a whiz even for lazy ol’ me:)

Roma tomatoes are oval shaped tomatoes that make a great sauce. Roma tomatoes are a rich red flavorful tomato that is good for cooking with or eating raw. The Roma tomato is meaty and full of flesh that is tasty and boils into a sauce that is good for canning. A Roma tomato is a popular type of tomato for Italian sauces. It is also a good tomato for salads.

The Roma tomato is easier to make into tomato sauces than a beefsteak tomato. Romas tend to boil down faster than a salad tomato and have more flesh and less juice that a regular tomato. They also have more flesh and less liquid which makes them the perfect choice for sauces and canning. However, a Roma can be cut up and eaten in salads, sandwiches or raw just like a big boy tomato or a big girl tomato.

Tomato canning is the best way to enjoy the flavors of the best tasting tomatoes and is also one of the best methods of storing tomatoes and preserving the health benefits of tomatoes for up to a year. Cooking does destroy some of the nutritional value of tomatoes. And more vitamins are lost as the storage time lengthens. Still, canned tomatoes will retain about a third of their vitamins.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the History of the San Marzano Tomato, the most “famous” Roma tomato for making sauce. Although San Marzano tomato seeds were brought to America and planted in many states, most say they still don’t taste as delectable as those that are harvested outside of Naples in Italy:)

I don’t plan on drying any of my tomato bounty but, if I did, here’s a recipe I would love to try courtesy of Just Dried Tomatoes by Karen Q. Cox published in 1989. The name Karen Cox may sound familiar to some of you. She help promote the dried tomato industry during the 1980s with her innovative product called Just Tomatoes.

The recipes in this book use her product but I’m sure if you made your very own dried tomatoes, the results would be just as good or better!

If you plan on drying tomato slices, you might want to keep this dip in mind. Tomato Chips sound like the perfect diver for it:)

Betcha didn’t know that July is National Horseradish Month! This recipe for Chunky Tomato Horseradish Salsa was harvested from Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables; A Common Sense Guide by Elizabeth Schneider published in 1986.

One book that I find indispensable when it comes to heirloom tomatoes is The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander. Published by Storey Publishing in 2004. If you’re like me and enjoy reading cookbooks like novels, you really should consider this book. The cover gives you just a taste of its contents but it is oh so much more! I’ve included the back cover too so you can see what others have said about it.

It is 310 pages of pure tomato joy! Not only will you discover the history of The Tomato in Early America,

But also Seedsman Hall of Famer, Alexander W. Livingston and his “contribution to the creation of the modern tomato.”

Oh yes, there are recipes and anecdotes too:) If I were to try my hand at canning, this recipe for Canned Tomato Purée would be at the top of my list!

Chances are I’m going to have a couple of green tomatoes just hanging around, lol…Just look at this recipe for Green Tomato Chocolate Cake! Admit it, it’s quite intriguing:)

Well, it looks like I have my tomato harvest "spoken" for. How about you? I'll be out and about visiting all your delicious blogs tomorrow. I'm pooped! I spent the weekend going to antique car shows because not only am I planning on what to do with my tomatoes, I'm buying a new, old car too! More about that in a later post:) Enjoy Louise:)

If you have a favorite tomato recipe you would like to share, just leave the link or the recipe in the comment section. If I knew how to do a link party I would but alas, not yet. I must thank Alida for this brainstorm, I nearly dove through the screen when I saw here sister Laura's Fresh and Summer Bruschetta!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garden Tuesday; It's a Jungle Out There!

I’ve been trying to coax Marion into taking a stroll in the garden with me but I haven’t been successful; yet:) For the past few years she has been able to simply look out her window and watch the pretty flowers as they grow. However, this year tomatoes and eggplant are now on her viewing screen and although she doesn’t have a bird’s eye view of Zinnias and Poppies, she is keeping a watchful eye on the tomatoes to make sure no “varmints” nibble them away.

My usual routine is to go out into the garden in the morning with coffee in hand and camera in my pocket. I’ve learned not to wear sandals on these morning jaunts because many times the morning dew is still present. Wet grassy toes are fine during a water hose fight, but not so much early in the morning.

My “inspection” includes making sure “everyone” has had enough to drink and that they are comfy and not being annoyed by any unwanted guests. (you might not be able to see it in the picture above but at the bottom is a screen which I had to place around the Gazania because “someone” apparently thinks it is planted there for their nibbling enjoyment.) Not!

I then look for any new growth and make a note in my head for any “guests” who might need their space cleaned up a bit. Fiesta Time here needs a few yellowing leaves pinched and a quick pickup of spent flowers.

My method doesn’t always work out the way it should. Those Balloon Flower buds in the back are just crying to be popped! (what? you’ve never popped a balloon flower, may I suggest you put it on your bucket list:)

My favorite thing about a morning stroll is discovering a new flower. As soon as it catches my eye, out comes the trusty camera and a clicking I will go. I stopped dead in my tracks when I spied these fragrant pink Stargazer Lilies this morning. I’ve been patiently waiting for days for them to open. I was thrilled when I saw them all opened at the same time:)

This “lipstick” bouquet of Peppermint Twist Phlox caught my eye as I was headed to the back of the garden. I just had to snap it!

And then a visitor:)

The back of the garden is buzzing with life in the morning. Everyone loves the orange Butterfly Weed. (Can you see the Gladiolus popping up?)

Especially the butterflies:)

I waited as long as I could to post for Garden Tuesday in hopes that the hummingbird would appear. As I made one more stroll out to the garden this evening, he made his appearance. In the Garage!

What a job I had persuading him to leave but finally after shutting all the lights and leaving all of the doors open, he eventually found his way out. I was too upset to go after him, Whew:) I guess I’ll have to settle for sharing this Hummingbird Moth. Simply amazing!!!

As for Marion and our stroll, her answer is in the title. ”It’s a jungle out there:)” Maybe when the tomatoes ripen Marion will venture out. In the mean time, I’m off to stroll Pam’s Garden Tuesday. “See” you there, Louise:)