Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beautiful Bells

It has been a good year for peppers in my kitchen garden. Today I harvested these bell a rainbow assortment of colors. They are not only sweet and tasty, but pretty as well!

I grow several varieties each year, including Big Bertha, Peto Wonder, Super Heavyweight, Orange California Wonder, and Golden California Wonder.

They are in various stages of ripeness....some still green or with green streaks.

A portion of my pepper harvest is sliced and frozen, to be used in one of our favorite dishes....Fajitas! These will not only taste great in the winter, but their cheerful colors will be a sweet reminder of the summer garden.


Gardening gives me fun and health and knowledge.
It gives me laughter and colour. It gives me pictures
of almost incredible beauty.

- John F. Kenyon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer Memories

We were blessed last week with a visit from dear daughter and our two grandchildren. I just have to share this photo that my daughter took of three year old Annabelle, standing in the doorway of our house. In the foreground is a pot of Salmon-colored Alaska Nasturtiums, tucked under the porch to escape the summer heat and blooming that the nights are cooler.

Something about this picture just tugs at my heart. Maybe it's the lingering sweetness of an entire day Annabelle was able to spend with Nana. Or those bare feet...and the memory of her contagious laughter as she ran away when sprayed with the hose, as I was watering the flower garden. Or when we removed her wet dress, and she quietly sneaked herself into the five gallon bucket of water without me seeing, and my surprise at looking over and seeing only her head peeking out! Or her delight in eating one after another of my Super Sweet cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers, fresh from the garden. Or maybe it's that bittersweet feeling one gets when summer is waning and you know these warm sweet summer days will soon be drawing to an end. I guess maybe it is all those feelings, and so many more that this photo evokes in me, and why it so squeezes this Grandma heart of mine.


"Those gasps of astonishment, those shrieks of pleasure, those sighs of delight, lost long ago when your children grew wise and wordly ~ are suddenly given back to you by your grandchildren. What seems to be the same small hands clutch yours, dragging you from one excitement to another."

Author unknown

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes

This year I'm using a new method to preserve those extra tomatoes from the garden, which are plentiful this time of year. Since I no longer do canning, I had been just cutting up the tomatoes and freezing them in quart size bags. But since trying my first batch of roasted tomatoes, I am hooked on the intense flavors and the compact size of the finished product!

Here are the simple instructions.....

Put some Extra Virgin olive oil on the bottom of the pan, add sliced tomatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice and more olive oil. I use oregano, basil, minced garlic and a little salt. (Dried herbs work well here, because they help absorb the juice from the tomatoes.) The recipe said to cook at 400 degrees, but since I used a glass pan I did them at 375 degrees. Cook for somewhere between 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs. You will have to watch them towards the end, because when the juice cooks off they can burn easily, but you want them to caramelize and brown a bit.

This is one of my favorite black heirloom tomato, Nyagous, ready for roasting. They have a darkish red color with green shoulders....and the colors inside the tomato are even prettier! Since these are a fairly small tomato, I just quartered them. With larger tomatoes, I cut in chunks, and cherry tomatoes get halved. I'm always trying new tomato varieties, so this is a good way to use up those that don't quite live up to my taste standards, because even a mediocre tomato tastes great after it's been roasted.

Same tomatoes as above, after roasting. Can't you just smell that wonderful aroma? I did plenty of sampling as they came out of the oven. The intense, concentrated tomato flavor is comparable to those expensive sun dried tomatoes you can buy.

Two 11 x 16 pyrex pans yielded one quart of tasty product for the freezer. The roasted tomatoes can be used on pasta or meat, as a bread spread, salad dressing ingredient... or simply as a spoonful of fresh garden tomato taste in the dead of winter.

bon app├ętit!