Container vegetable gardening. Not just for small spaces.

Help me.  I am being consumed by produce!

I have posted entries before about the joyous rewards of tending your own vegetable garden.   Well, I have to make a confession.   I do love the “joyous rewards” but I am really not a fan of everything in between. Continue reading

Slow roasted tomatoes–watch out, they are addictive!

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I know I have written about this before but it just seems to happen every year.  We always make the same mistake of over estimating the amount of each vegetable we should plant.  The beans, the carrots, the beets!!!!!

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And as with every other planting season, we quickly realize that we could have planted half the amount and still had more than we actually needed.

I adhere to the belief that much of what we grow should be enjoyed when it is at its peak.  I have given up on freezing veggies, such as asparagus, beans and corn and just enjoy them to the fullest when they are in season.  No matter how many ways I have tried freezing them–fresh frozen, blanched, whatever–they just don’t cut it.

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There is one exception to my rule of not freezing, though, and that is tomatoes.  Okay, for those that may wish to correct me, I do know that tomatoes are actually fruit but since most are used in savory recipes I will include them in the same category.

They are also another one of our garden items that we always wildly over plant.  It is incredible how many cherry tomatoes can be produced by a single bush.

Just like the other vegetables, freezing will not provide you with an alternative for fresh tomatoes for slicing in your salad or on a sandwich but they will work well in sauces, soups and any other recipe that might otherwise require canned tomatoes.

My favourite part about freezing tomatoes is that you can simply wash, dry, bag them and then pop them in the freezer.  The other bonus about freezing them is that as they thaw, the skin slips away easily.  No blanching and messy peeling required.

This year for the first time, I tried slow roasting cherry tomatoes in my oven.  OMG!!!  Talk about candy!  I just barely was able to muster up enough self-control so that I at least had some to freeze.

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My method was simple.  I cut them in half, placed them on trays lined with parchment paper, drizzled with olive oil, grind of salt and pepper and added some slices of garlic.  I cooked them in an oven heated to 300 F for about 3 hours.  Magic!

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There are any number of variations you can use, from the variety of tomatoes i.e. plum, beef steak, to the oven temperature and cooking time, to how you actually store them.  Some people pack them in olive oil like you would sun-dried tomatoes.

A check of the internet will provide you with a vast array of methods for roasting as well as recipes on how to use them.  I am a fan of eating them straight from the oven.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Pickling….smickling…..is it really worth the effort?!?

 

The end result

These really are going to be very tasty!

I am starting this blog showing you the finished product….the fruit of my labours, so to speak.  Actually, it is the pickled beets of my labours.

I know I shared with you last growing season my first attempt at pickled beets.  Like a lot of firsts, the excitement of trying something new can make you blind to some of the negative aspects involved (Kinda sounds like the early days of love).

The haul from the garden

Today was the day that I pulled the last of my beets from my garden, intent on getting a batch pickled to share with friends and family.

Reality quickly set in:

So cute

Yes, those tiny baby beets are soooo very cute but they are a Royal pain in the butt to clean and skin.

What a mess!

Did you know that the splash zone from one mishandled beet is a Bazillion times the circumference of said beet?!

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There is a reason why some recipes suggest you wear gloves when “slipping the skin” from these tasty little morsels.  It is going to be Christmas before the red stains under my fingernails and on the palm of your hands fade.  I suppose if it doesn’t, it will fit in with the Festive Holiday colour scheme.

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Hot!  Hot!  Hot!  The boiling beet water, the boiling brine, the boiling jars, the boiling lids.  Ouch!!!!!

The point of this post is to remind you that there is some work and mess involved in the canning process, so be prepared.  There is also a great sense of accomplishment when you are finished.  Feel free to print my finished photo so you can place it strategically in view (preferably outside the beet juice splash zone) so you can keep your “eye on the prize”.

If you are lucky enough to receive a gift of home preserves or canned goods know that you are loved…..a lot!
Photo Credit:  1, 2