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Category Archives: Gardening

Easy Green Sauce for Freezing

We had a huge harvest of tomatillos from our garden this year – definitely enough to make some salsa verde (green sauce) to freeze for use later in the winter. We brought in about 17 pounds.  That’s a lot of tomatillos!

Tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, are in the same family as tomatoes, yet have a completely different flavor and texture.  The fruit is low in calories and has a good amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins, and antioxidants.  They can be a healthy addition to your diet.  My favorite way to use them is salsa verde.

This sauce is great with tortilla chips, as a salsa for tacos, or as a sauce for chicken enchiladas.  And it’s not hard to make either.  Since we had so many tomatillos, I tried making the sauce two different ways: on the stove top, and in the oven. The sauce was great either way.  So if you have some extra from your garden, or get them at the farmer’s market, try it and let me know how you like it.  Enjoy!

Green Sauce for Freezing

Ingredients:

5 lb. tomatillos, husks removed and fruit washed

1 large, sweet onion, cut in wedges

7-8 cloves garlic, unpeeled (for stove top – peel and coarsely chop)

2 ancho peppers, cut in chunks

2 whole jalapeno peppers (for stove top remove seeds and dice)

2 tsp. kosher salt

3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Oven Roast Method:

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on top of the oil.  Husk and wash tomatillos; place on pans.

Peel onion and cut into large wedges.  Add these to the pans, along with garlic cloves, ancho peppers, and jalapenos.

Roast at 400° F for 35 minutes until tomatillos are soft and have turned olive-green.

Remove from oven.  Cool slightly.  Peel garlic and return to the pan.  Remove stems and seeds from jalapeno peppers and return to pan.  In small batches, spoon roasted ingredients into food processor along with kosher salt and cilantro.

Process till smooth, or desired consistency.  Fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch of top.  Place on lid, label, and freeze.  Makes 5-6 pints.

Stove Top Method:

Husk and wash tomatillos and place in large pan with 1/2 cup water.  Peel onion and cut into large wedges; add to tomatillos.  Peel garlic, chop coarsely and add to pan along with chopped ancho peppers and diced jalapenos

Cook on medium heat 25 minutes or until tomatillos are soft and turn olive-green, stirring occasionally.  Add water in small amounts, only if needed, to prevent scorching.

Cool slightly.  In small batches, spoon mixture into food processor along with kosher salt and cilantro.  Process till smooth, or desired consistency.  Fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch of top.

Place on lid, label, and freeze.  Makes about 6 pints.

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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Recipes

 

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Garden Anomolies

Double headed sunflower

Gardening is fun in lots of ways, but one of my favorites is finding the unusual or peculiar among the harvest.  Show them to my kids and peels of laughter or ooh’s and aahs’ find their way to my ears.  This summer we found a two-headed sunflower (my favorite this year), a dahlia flower that was half red and half white – split down the center, a pepper with an obvious deformity, and numerous tomatoes with odd growths.

While these are fun to look at, when it comes down to it, they’re still what they were made to be – the pepper was still a pepper, the tomato a tomato, and the sunflower a sunflower.  They just looked a little different, but inside they’re the same as the perfect looking one right next to them.  It’s a good reminder to me how we, as humans, are pretty much the same regardless of how we look or appear to others.  After all, we’re all made in God’s image.  And that’s pretty cool.

Odd looking pepper

So back to my funny looking produce – while I didn’t get photos of all of the them, I did take a few, and hope you enjoy them. I know others have seen some of the same things I have.  So if you have a favorite oddity you’ve found in your garden, let me know!  Post a link to it in your comment if you have a photo (keep it clean please). Should be fun to see.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Faith, Gardening, General

 

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes from the garden

Tomatoes are a fantastically versatile vegetable, which is good considering the amount of ripe ones I have in the garden right now.  Ranging from marble-sized to softball-sized or larger they can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways.  There’s nothing like popping into your mouth a fresh from the garden cherry tomato, or a thick slice of a garden fresh heirloom tomato.  They can be used fresh as is, stuffed, or added to salads or sandwiches.  Cooking them just expands their usefulness.  Baked, broiled, grilled, fried, sautéed, or roasted – there are many methods to explore with this wonderful summertime fruit.

And when the crop is abundant it’s time to think of how to preserve it.  One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes for use in the winter is to take my excess cherry and grape tomatoes, roast them with some garlic and basil, and freeze it for later.  The result is delicious.

In my last batch, most of the tomatoes I used were cherry or grape, but I did add a few Roma and slicers to thin it out a bit as it can get pretty thick otherwise.  This is a healthy recipe that’s easy, fairly quick, and good tasting.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

8 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4-5 cloves garlic, or more if desired

8-10 large basil leaves

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt

4-5 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Remove stems and wash tomatoes.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and larger tomatoes in wedges.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on the foil.

Foil lined pan with olive oil

Spread out the oil and put cherry tomatoes on the foil, cut side up.  Place wedges on the foil, cut side up.

Peel garlic and place on the pan among the tomatoes.

Wash basil and add to the tomatoes, gently tearing the larger leaves.

Sprinkle the pan of tomatoes, garlic, and basil with balsamic vinegar and kosher salt.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on top.

Tomatoes and all the toppings

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are tender.

Remove from oven and blend together in a food processor till desired consistency.

In the food processor

Sauce will be thick.  Freeze in bags or  plastic freezer containers.  Makes about 3 pints.

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Gifts from My Mom

Tuberose in bloom

I sit here writing as the sweet scent of tuberose fills the room.  Some in my family think it’s quite overpowering, too heavy a scent.  But I like it.  It reminds me of my mom.

You see, this tuberose was my mom’s.  She was passionate about gardening, spending more time in the summer sunshine than most people ever do.  Her green thumb was deep-rooted, and plants of all kinds flourished under her care.  But I think her real love was flowers.  That’s why the tuberose reminds me of her.  It was one of her gifts – something left of her that continues to produce heavenly scented white flowers even since her passing.  Her green thumb stretches far.

Gladiolus – Welcome

I have other flowering gifts from her that bring back memories every August.  Gladioli flowers were one of her favorites, and in her prime she grew around 3500 or more glads.  For a bulb that has to be planted each spring and dug up each fall . . . well, that’s pretty amazing for a small town gardener in my opinion.  I have fond memories of walking through her garden as a little child, finding and eating ripe gooseberries, helping her at the county fair by filling with water the bottles that would hold her glads, sorting through more purple and blue ribbons than you’d ever know what to do with, and learning how to arrange attractive bouquets. Roses, lilacs, Peruvian daffodils, peonies, and dahlias are all gifts from her garden that I now have.

Gladioilus – Atom

But I think she left much more than tangible flowers and bulbs.  Her passion passed on a love of the outdoors, of nature, of eating fresh picked vegetables from the garden, of staying active and healthy.  These are gifts too. But even these are surpassed by other heartfelt, even more intangible, gifts. Memories are one.  She also showed and gave me a reverence and love for God, love for her family, and commitment and love for her husband.  Those are the lasting, intangible gifts . . . her legacy.  And those gifts, those roots, run much deeper than even her green thumb.  They run deep to the heart.

Gladiolus – Mt. Index

Looking at those flowers now causes me to stop and reflect on my own family.  What are my gifts, what’s my legacy to my loved ones?  It’s something that I think is worthwhile to reflect upon.  I hope and pray they will have a healthy lifestyle, cherished memories of time spent together, cuddles, hugs, and kisses, a relationship with and love for Jesus, and a love for others.  That’s what I hope.  Those are the gifts I want to give.  You may not have a green thumb or a desire to stay healthy but you will leave gifts.  And I wonder . . . what will your gifts be?  What is your legacy?

Dahlia

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Faith, Family, Gardening, Health, Parenting

 

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It’s a Growing Garden. . .

I took my camera out as I walked around the garden yesterday.  It was such a beautifu morning and I wanted to snap some photos of what’s blooming and growing.  Here they are. . .

Fresh basil. . .it’s about time for some homemade pesto!

Black Eyed Susan is bright and cheery.

Tomatoes are starting to ripen. This heirloom Brandywine is peeking out from
the leaves and is almost ready!

One of my mom’s glads. . .beautiful.

Such pretty Zinnias!

This is the canteloupe that wouldn’t grow – or so I mistakenly told my son who had faith and planted the
seed from the melon in March, and saw it grow! Can’t wait to try it with him.

Peppers are finally getting a little size on them now. They’re looking good!

We’ll have tomatillos again this year. Looking forward to making some tomatillo sauce and salsa
for chicken enchiladas – yum!

A new favorite this year: PowWow Wild Berry Echinacea

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Gardening, General

 

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