Category Archives: Garden related

Green tomato pickles

Once again I ended up with green tomatoes. I had seeds left over from last year and though I’d give growing them another go. However, as of the end of April (like October for the Northern Hemisphere) many of the tomatoes were still green. So, the sauce was only a middling hit last year. In fact we just polished off the last of it a few days ago as part of a freezer cleaning out effort. So something a bit more immediate. More useful, and requiring far less tomatoes.

So as you can see not so many. I did actually get some red ones this year. And I only had a few plants as well. But these have been sitting outside off the plants, on the vine, failing to ripen any more. So time to pickle them!

I read about a few green tomato pickle recipes, but they all seemed like bread and butter pickles (so sugary) and involved onions. I’m still onion free for the baby so that was out. And I’m not a huge fan of sugary pickles. So I thought I’d adapt my refrigerator pickle recipe to these.

Pickling spice, dill seed, salt and vinegar:

Now, on measurements. What I did was add about  1/4 cup pickling spice, a tablespoon or more of dill seed, maybe a cup or two of while distilled vinegar, and 1/4 cup of salt. These are guesses as I just kind of put things in. Taste it before adding your sliced tomatoes. It should be vinegary, but light. I think that’s about a 2 liter container (so around 1/2 gallon).

This is what vinegar looks like:

Now before adding the tomatoes I topped up my mix with boiling water fresh from the kettle. I didn’t fully fill my container, but I wanted the salt dissloved and the liquid warm for the tomatoes.

Put in the fridge to cool and cure. Only a day later I’ve had them on cheese and tuna sandwiches and they are light, flavorful and crisp. Yum!


Green tomato sauce

So, after tomato armageddon I have a pile of green tomatoes. There may be more on the way if I’ve killed the plants as well. After 2 days 3 of the plants are nominally alive and 2 are pretty much dead. Not tooo bad. Still, more sauce will be forthcoming.

I looked around and did find you can make sauce out of green tomatoes. So here goes a try!

Here are the tomatoes that fell off (or in one case I totally killed the plant by accident). I have several types in there. Roma I suspect are the pear shaped ones, also beefsteak, moneymaker and maybe black krim. No way to know as except for 2 tomatoes they are all green.

I’m also putting brisket, garlic, onions, rosemary, fennel, parsley, basil, salt and pepper in there. Maybe some olive oil and sugar if I think it’s necessary. The recipe I found suggested ham hocks, but I could only get more ham hocks than I knew what to do with so I thought fatty brisket instead. Hey ho.

So first thing, start browning the brisket with the garlic. I probably had about 6 cloves garlic. I expect just a basic seasoning out of that. I’m not actually handling garlic and onions well whilst pregnant, so worst case I eat this and am sad. This is maybe a pound of bone in brisket? Was a bit less than half the 1 kg package.

Sear, sear. A cast iron pan would be better for that probably, but I’ve only got the one pan right now.

All the fat and everything goes in the sauce pot.

My onions were frozen. I had bought a huge bag of them and cut some up and stuck them in the freezer when they started to go bad. Then morning sickness hit with a vengeance and the rest of them rotted before I could even think about eating them. And I’m still avoiding them a bit, so freezer onions it is. I guess this is about 2 onions? They are sliced, just all clumped up.

Monster mound of tomatoes. And on top the 2 not-green ones. I did try eating a green one, and while I expected it to be similar to an unripe apple, all sour and tart and unpalatable,  it was just undeveloped tomato flavour. A bit bland actually. (I can see how green tomato pickles would be good)

Add the rosemary, salt and various other seasonings now.

Cook for hours and hours in the slow cooker.

I actually drizzled the olive oil on after about 2 hours, and added some more salt and herbs to taste at that point. I did throw a teeny bit of vinegar in there as the green tomatoes lacked acid to my taste.

Here is after 8-9 hours of simmering in the slow cooker:

I usually let regular red sauce go overnight at a lower temperature as it gets pretty watery. This stuff was pretty thick so I dished it out for freezing and trying after about 9 hours of cooking. The green tomatoes are firmer than red ones so I had the impression I was cooking up grapes. A hand blender would be… um handy for this. However, I did not feel like shuffling hot sauce from pot to food processor/blender, so chunky with nearly whole green tomato chunks it is.

I did eat some of this and it’s good, but vaguely more like heatless green salsa than tomato sauce. I think the brisket/beef fat makes it thicker. The garlic and onions did give me problems, but it was manageable. It’s missing … something. I don’t usually put meat in my sauce during the cooking phase, but I do think that helped some with the flavor. I think either some spice, or more heavy flavor herbs would do this sauce right.

I do have another batch I need to make at some point (this one made 8 x2 cup portions and some extra, call it 9.5 2 cup portions), so will try something a bit stronger then.


Tomato armageddon

So, we found a place to move (coincidentally the other half of the duplex came available and it has 2 bedrooms and is ever so slightly larger than our current place. Should be all we need for at least a year) and that means that my garden needs to move with us. Unfortunately the weather has been a bit shit, so while I have oodles of tomatoes, they are all still green.The zucchini harvest has nearly met expectations, despite blossom end rot, so there is that.

So I bought some large tubs and started the uprooting procedure. I’ve probably killed them doing this, so worst case I make a lot of green tomato sauce (which I need to make anyhow, as a bucketload fell off while I was digging up the plants).

Here is what fell off from 4 of the 6 plants. There was a bit more from the 5th plant (I filled that second bowl to overflowing) and #6 was a casualty of digging.

And you can see my unruly (I didn’t stake or prune, oops) tomatoes, 2 to a tub. I poured some liquid fertilizer and water on them after replanting. We’ll just see how they do.

So far other than that I’ve gotten one spaghetti squash (another one is growing though) and one pumpkin (also a small one in progress). They just need too much space. I think next year I’ll stick to tomatoes (that will be staked at the minimum!), green onions, parsley and some other tub friendly things. Might get some kale and broccoli in for the winter.


Too much zucchini!

So it needs to be frozen. This is, after all, why I bought a freezer when I planted the garden. That and it’s good for storing dog foods.

So, I had quite a few zucchini (or courgettes as they call t hem here. Don’t know why they call them that, but they do). This isn’t even all of them. I filled up this bowl even further and had one left over. I’ll eat fresh ones until there aren’t any more, but every time they build up I’ll store them.

I was also making corn (it’s corn season and cheap at the store), so was boiling extra water. Basically, bring some water to a boil. Enough for all your zucchini. I didn’t do that so ended up needing to use the corn water as I filled up both pots to overflowing. I had to tip water out to fit more zucchini in.

Once the water is boiling, add the zucchini and keep in there for 3 minutes. Don’t bother waiting for it to boil again, just 3 minutes immersed in the water should be good. So said the guides to blanching zucchini. We’ll just see how these taste later on…(Yeah, the stove is dirty, needs a steel wool scrub)

I ended up with 6 of those little containers at the back (we get them from a takeaway curry place, we have 12, but I use them for tomato sauce too),  and the rest in a 2L container that isn’t quite full. I anticipate putting more on top once I get overwhelmed with vegetables again. The little containers hold more than a cup but not quite 2 cups I think. These zucchini will supposedly be acceptable for stir fry (mainly how I eat them) or anywhere I’d use sliced zucchinis. I guess I could have grated them and frozen them straight like that (good for zucchini bread, zucchini-latkes or mixing into other things).


Monster garden

My garden has totally taken over. It’s huge. Enormous. And sometimes, if I’m not careful, so are the vegetables.

That big one is about the size of my forearm. I don’t check for a few days and what happens? Monster veggies. The next one back is still pretty big. The one in the back is more the size I like to see. The other ones are just small and tender. Yum.

I don’t get out often enough because it’s increasingly hard to bend down and pick things. Also after I pick things I’m wheezing a bit. Baby is still stealing my air supply.

Vines are spilling into the yard.

See?

Here is a pumpkin. I found it hiding in the grass. Not actually sure if this is a Delicata squash or a Buttercup pumpkin.

I have tomatoes finally. I had heaps of flowers, but no fruit, then one day, fruit everywhere.

I don’t know what these pear shaped ones are. I only really planted Black Krim tomatoes, Beefsteak, Moneymaker and Roma. We will see! Surprises can be fun I guess.

More of the garden taking over the yard.

I’m happy it’s doing so well and all, but we are kind of looking to move. What with this being a one bedroom and having a baby show up in June. We’d stay here, but can barely walk around the bed our room is so small. So we will see. I estimate needing 6 large tubs to hold all that. Eeek. If it survives being dug up and all.


Refrigerator pickles

The pickles here have been woefully inadequate. It’s that whole halal vs. kosher thing. Pickles tend toward a kosher thing. Not that they don’t have pickles, they are just oddly seasoned and of the slightly rubbery overcooked variety. And there are maybe 2-3 brands (and the store is generally sold out too). Some are ok, but I would probably eat a puppy for some Vlasic or Claussen pickles.

So I’m going to attempt to make my own.

Here is what I did:

3 cups white vinegar

4 cups water

slightly less than 1/2 cup salt. I used sea salt.

1.5 tbs pickling spice

1.5 tbs dill seeds (can’t find fresh-which would be best, or dry dill leaf around)

4 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves.

Cucumbers!

I bought 2 telegraph and 2…regular. I guess they are English or short? I couldn’t find any pickling at this time of year.

Bring the vinegar, salt, water, garlic and herbs to a boil and take off the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Get your jars ready. I washed mine with soap/hot water right before packing them with cucumber slices and spears. For the 3 jars here I used 1 of my telegraph and both short cucumbers. Which I also washed with soapy water and rinsed before slicing up.

Once the pickling mix is cooled to room temperature or slightly lukewarm pour into the jars over the cucumbers. Try to avoid having the bay leaves go in the jars. You can toss those now. You can also pickle carrots, peppers, onions, zucchini in the same way.

I also spooned some extra seed/pickling mix stuff into the jars as well.

Now, put the pickles in the fridge (there are several methods of making fridge pickles, some involve leaving the pickles out for a few days before popping into the fridge) and in 2 days they should be ready to eat. They must be kept in the fridge and should be good for about 2 months. Maybe more!

Here they are after the 2 day pickle. The telegraph cucumbers were much crisper, but both kinds were good. I think telegraph is probably the way to go if you can’t get actual pickling cucumbers.

As for spices, probably a bit less salt would have been better, but overall very good pickles. I don’t think I’ll buy pickles again.


Can’t be bothered

Haven’t been feeling so great lately, but today I feel ok (and able to do things!) so hopefully this will continue.

I finally got the energy to sort some pictures I’ve taken, so here is what I’ve been up to garden wise.

First off, a while back (it must be at least 2 months or more now) I harvested my spinach as it had started to go to seed. Spinach does that when the days are long. I’ll grow more in the fall.

It was tasty. About halfway through the bag I developed an aversion to vegetables so the rest of it is waiting in the freezer.

Here is how the garden is doing. It has really taken off.

tomato plants

squashies

teeny zucchini

I got some eggplants to grow, now I just need to plant or pot them. I’m leaning toward pot since I think they won’t grow well and they were a lot of effort.

Also the garden overall lacks space.

Huge difference from the last set of pictures.

Hopefully by the time I start getting more vegetables I’ll actually want to eat them.

Well, with our new fiber optic internets uploading pictures is no longer a horrible chore. Yay.


More garden adventures…

Cooking has been boring lately. Well, not really, I have another post scheduled for a week from now.

The weather has been crazy. There was frost this morning, which makes a mid-late April frost for you Northern Hemisphere people. Thankfully nothing seems damaged.

Everything even faintly alive is in the ground at this point.

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Here you can see squash and pupkins and some small but seemingly ok tomatoes. The eggplants are failing in the middle there.

I planted some delicata squash seeds by the stick. We’ll see if they grow. I had, I think, one sprout inside but then it died for no apparent reason.

A close up of tomatoes.

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And the space dome I keep everything under. Keeps ’em warm, moist and happy. And when we have a surpise frost things don’t die.

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Here are the pockets of spinach (large-green) green onions and cilantro and parsley. I have basil and more parsley in the pot down below along with some serrano peppers that are just starting to come up.

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Garden update version…3? 3.5?

Anyhow, been busy not updating. I had 2 interviews within a week, turned one of them down in anticipation of getting the other one, which worked so, good on me. Turned down another position I was also being offered. Now I just need to wait for my job paperwork to worm through bureaucracy and such. So in the meantime, business as usual.

i.e. more nothing.

My plants are getting pretty decent sized. I worry a bit about them not getting enough light. The tomatoes and eggplants especially are still fairly small. However, squashy plants, which are growing like weeds, are ready to start living outside. So I have decreed!

Ahem.

Anyhow, my bed has been prepared for weeks now. It must be over 2 months since I planted the seeds and cleaned out the bed.

I have a little hand cultivator which is good for loosening and inadvertant worm chopping. With that I dug a little and put my little plants in.

In all the below cases I left the another set inside in case these die horribly. Hopefully I will be encouraged after a week and more can go out eh?

Shown in the picture below:

3 buttercup pumpkin plants (upper RH corner) that had grown in one newspaper pot.

3 Black Beauty Zucchini (the greeny ones) in the Middle RH side (3 separate pots).

3 Spaghetti squash on bottom RH side

2 Golden Zucchini in the staggered center row.

I know these guys are probably too close together, but I fully expect some deaths so I’ll adjust based on that.

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What a remarkably bad picture…

Anyhow, I’m sure it’s not improved by the bird netting over the top of it. This is mainly to keep the neighborhood cats out (success!) and our dogs( not so great).

Here is what is still inside:

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A few squashies of various types and the tomatoes and eggplants.

More later if the outside things survive!


Garden mini update

Just a bit of progress really. I am finally finally seeing Dok eggplant sprouts come up (can’t see them in the picture), in addition to the regular eggplants (somewhere in the middle) that started coming up last week. I’m waiting for the cotyledon to not be the main leaf before I put these guys outside. We’ve had an overnight frost or two and it’s been at least um..a month since I planted these guys. Another 2 weeks at the minimum before they go outside.

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Spaghetti squash, zucchini and assorted tomatoes are mainly what is visible.

And outside we have lovely little spinaches

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Also shown cilantro (aka coriander here) and not shown, baby green onions. I’m restarting parsley, basil and serrano peppers as I’m not seeing much out of them.