Monday, September 28, 2015

My Pretties

I picked these this morning -- it makes me happy to finally have some of my own heirloom tomatoes growing well, after a long season fighting off deer and other unknown pests. Possibly a raccoon. I never saw one, but I was watching my big, green, lovely tomatoes on the vine early in the season, and then a few days later when I went to pick them, they had all disappeared. The vines themselves hadn't been eaten, and I know I wasn't imagining the large nearly-ready tomatoes. I had even counted them. Something came just for the fruit and hand-picked it. So unless I have some really wily deer...

And then, of course, the deer themselves managed to get in somehow. I put up the same fence I've successfully used in all my other years of gardening, but this year I accidentally left about a 1 1/2-foot gap on the top part. I never saw huge ravages, but there was enough evidence (again, mostly on the tomato tops) that I have to guess a few found the opening. So, finally, I've closed the gap and the plants recovered and apparently the raccoon moved on, and I have a decent harvest now that we're approaching October.

This, below, is what I've done with my first few tomatoes -- panzanella. I think this year's, using some of the most gorgeous Mister Stripeys ever along with homemade sourdough croutons, was the best yet.

Also, I made one of my first real batches of homemade marinara sauce. Surprisingly, given my propensity for from-scratch cooking, I usually use sauce from storebought jars. (I've made homemade noodles more than I've made homemade sauce!) But the recipes of my usual -- ahem, cheap -- brands have been changing, nearly doubling in added sugar. My kids thought they tasted like Spaghettios. So I've been retrenching to nice, affordable 28-oz. cans of crushed or diced that come Italian-style with basil, and it's been fine. 

This particular day, however, I opened a can of whole plum tomatoes and went to the extra effort of dicing and sautéeing. I trundled out to the garden and picked my freshest herbs to simmer. It would have to be done in much larger batches and canned to really be worth repeating often, but it was a resounding success. My favorite sauce ever. (Credit to Pioneer Woman for the recipe.)

Hopefully coming soon, pictures of what I'll make with the 10 pounds of organic potatoes we harvested together last night.

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