I like to make my life easier, so I’m always looking for the simplest ways to preserve and consume my garden produce.
Today I dug up half of my garlic. Garlic is ready when the bottom four leaves of the stalk have turned brown. For Zone 3, this is usually mid to late August.
After separating the cloves I carefully washed and patted them dry with a towel.
I then tossed the cloves into my tiny food processor and added enough vegetable oil to cover them.
I used the pulse button to control the chopping until I had the consistency I wanted, just slightly larger than a mince.
I put the resulting mixture in a jar, topped it up with a bit more veggie oil and that’s it. The mixture lasts for several weeks in the fridge and after I’ve used up all the garlic I have fabulous oil to use as well.
Note: Storing garlic in oil at room temperature can result in proliferation of botulism, and botulism poisoning is a potentially fatal condition. Always store the oil at less than 3 degrees C and use it only if cooking thoroughly.
Smitten Kitchen has a great recipe for ratatouille that I’ve shared before but I really think I should share again. This is the genuine ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille.
Before the oven
This is not your mother’s stew-like concoction. Instead of chopping up cubes of vegetables and combining them in a pot, you layer thin slices of eggplant, red pepper, zucchini and other squash atop a tomato sauce laden with chopped onion and garlic. It is soooo good.
I like to serve it on pasta or rice, but its equally delicious on its own and makes a great fall supper.
Canned and Ready for Eating
Salsa is one of my favorite things to eat during the long months of winter. It reminds me of all the good things I grew over the summer, and combines all of my favorite flavors. I love the zest of garlic, the scent of cilantro, the punch of the hot peppers.
I made my salsa as soon as I had 3kg of Roma tomatoes, even though I’m likely to get a bunch more in the coming weeks. Those will be for making tomato sauce, another favorite.
Here’s my salsa recipe (adapted from this recipe):
Blanch, peel and core 3 kg Roma tomatoes. Chop them coarsely then layer with a sprinkling of pickling salt in a colander over a pot. Let them sit overnight in a cool place, allowing much of the liquid to drain.
The next morning, start chopping. You can use a food processor if you like, but I prefer to chop by hand to get a chunkier salsa (with the exception of the peppers – those I use the food processor for).
Including the tomatoes, chop and add to a stock pot:
3 medium onions
1 large head garlic
200 g Serrano peppers
1 medium green pepper
1/2 medium red pepper
3/4 bunch cilantro
1/8 C cumin seed, ground
1/2 can (3 oz) tomato paste
Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. It’s now ready to can. When canning, add 1 tbsp lime juice to the bottom of each 250 ml jar or 2 tbsp to a 500 ml jar. This increases the acidity and makes for safer water bath canning of tomatoes. Please refer to another website such as this for canning instructions.
Makes 2 liters of salsa.
At the end of the growing season I had a large container of cherry tomatoes (thanks to my very productive Tumblers) and decided that I needed to find a new recipe. I had simply been popping them in my mouth every time I opened the fridge door. At that rate I wasn’t going to get them all eaten, so I decided to try baking them and having them as a side dish. Here’s the delicious result.
3 cloves garlic
fresh thyme and chives
fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, drizzled
1 tbsp lemon juice, drizzled
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes and enjoy
My favourite time of the growing season is when I start to eat the fresh produce that’s I’ve affectionately tended since spring. Although I’ve already been into my herb garden for over a month and eating lettuce for several weeks, this was the first week I was able to enjoy some of the slower to develop vegetables.
My Tumbler tomatoes, both in the upside down planters and my regular tomato box, have been producing a few ripe red fruit each day. Sliced on a hummus and vegetable tortilla, the tomatoes are like a ray of sunshine caught in a tender juicy package.
My Mr. Big pods are long, plump, and full of sweet green peas. Any pods lower than a foot off the ground have been meticulously plucked by my dog and gleefully consumed while I’m not watching. It’s the price I pay for having taught her where they come from.
I pulled and peeled the first of sixty garlic bulbs which are now two seasons old. I’ve decided that garlic cloves pulled fresh from the garden and added to a salad are one of the finest things in life.
The second finest is vine-ripened peppers, and I can start picking my Banana peppers any time now. The more I pick, the more the plant will produce.
My bok choy and spinach have been struggling, primarily because of the feisty nature of local sparrows that appear to have an insatiable hunger for leafy dark greens. Those plants that I covered with wire mesh are toiling away and should be ready in coming weeks.
There’s a certain melencholy that comes with the beginning of the harvest season. Days are getting shorter, the sun’s a bit lower on the horizon, and it won’t be long before the peas are done, the lettuce bolts and the herbs lose their best flavor. I have to remind myself that there are still beans to come (another puppy favorite), potatoes to harvest and my personal favorite: juicy carrots to eat fresh and raw from the soil.
Mr. Big Peas
Herb Spiral: July, 2010
It’s been two months since I transferred over my hardy herbs and seeded the annuals in my new herb spiral.
See May 2010 The Herb Spiral
Visually, the spiral does not disappoint. I love the way it’s slowly filling out, with cilantro growing tall on the north-east corner and oregano getting bushy on the south. Basil and sage enjoy the afternoon and evening sun from their vantage point on the west. Rosemary sits cheerfully atop the spiral where conditions are driest and most intimidating. Alternating jalapeno and habernero pepper plants wind their way slowly from the bottom of the spiral upwards. Parsley thrives in the relative shade of the cilantro, while thyme enjoys its own space in the full sun. Garlic plants fill out the remainder of the north-east side of the herb spiral, towering over a struggling lemon basil plant that a friend donated to my culinary garden.
Chives and spearmint have been banished to pots on the side (spearmint invades aggressively if left to it’s own). Ok, if you look closely you’ll see that I have chives in the spiral as well, but I swear that if they produce so much as one offspring, I’ll banish them entirely. Chives left to blossom and go to seed can produce dozens of little plants that pop up yards away from their mama plant. Much as I love chives, I don’t love them that much. (I harvest the chive blossoms for Chive Blossom Vinegar – see June 2010 – and that generally prevents those pesky progeny).
I’ve been eating oregano, sage and thyme for two months now, cilantro leaves for at least six weeks, and bits of rosemary in recent days. My favorite is the fussy sweet basil that began slowly this spring but is now gaining ground. I’m hesitant to strip my two plants of too many leaves before I’m certain they are strong enough to endure the annoying fluctuations in weather that have plagued us this summer.
Herbs are an essential part of my kitchen, and having the herb spiral a few feet out the back door has proven to be a spectacular addition to my culinary creativity. It looks and smells fantastic as well, and isn’t that the goal of any zone 3 gardener?
The Herb Spiral sits just outside my back door:
View from NE
View from SW
View from SE
Herb Spiral: July, 2010