Are you just reveling in S U M M M E R right about now? We keep switching between the signature Atlanta weather profiles: hot and muggy with a side of steamy OR breezy, blue and utterly blissful. With an afternoon shower of course. Sixties in the morning, nineties (in the shade) in the afternoon, but heck, it’s July so I’ll take them both. I stay in Atlanta for the seasons and they rarely disappoint.
The garden is producing like crazy and we are knee deep (ok, I exaggerate but backyard farmers are like fishermen; always out to impress) in cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Aren’t these colors gorgeous?
I planted over a dozen tomato plants this year because I was tired of having just a few tomatoes rolling in piecemeal over the summer and the plan is working. We harvest huge handfuls of cherry tomatoes (Super Sweet 100) every day (not including the sun-warmed ones we steal from the vines) and now the big fruits are starting to ripen. The yellow variety is Lemon Boy and the lighter orange is Early Girl. Although I’m not a huge Early Girl fan, they were they only reliable tomatoes to produce last year so I had to have at least one plant! The small bright red tomato (upper right of basket) is a plum tomato and the vines are filled with these. I have visions of one small jar of tomato paste dancing in my head … Finally, those medium reds are Parks Whopper, which I find amusing since they are distinctly un-whopper in size. The small purple green cherry tomatoes are an heirloom, possibly Cherokee Purple, but my tag is missing.
Naturally, the question is “what do you do with all those tomatoes?”. Eat them, of course! Tomato sandwiches, tomato tarts, tomato jam, oven-dried tomatoes, the possibilities are endless. I rarely use a recipe and even more rarely have a plan for what to make. I think you just have to look at the tomatoes and let them silently suggest a dish. Hmmm, I like the idea of tomato meditation … a quiet communication with nature … Now that I ponder it, I silently admire them each morning as I water, letting the hose sprinkle them for exactly one Hail Mary per plant before I move on to the next one. It’s pretty easy to pray the Rosary when the birds are singing, the sky is brightening, the water is gently streaming, and you are surrounded by the sheer beauty of the ordinary. So many blessings right in front of us if we only open our eyes, but I digress.
One summer several years back, I made fantastic tomato marmalade from a huge harvest of tiny yellow pear tomatoes but I have never again either found that variety or gotten it to grow. I’m wondering if I can turn my tiny red jewels into something similar … hmmm … I can still taste that tart, sweet, addictive, weird goodness! I’ll keep you posted. And as a caution, if you are canning, please ALWAYS use a recipe! Botulism is bad.
Aren’t the squash pretty? I’ve been picking them small because we’ve got a lot of birds, rabbits, and caterpillars who would love to make a meal of these (and everything else of course). We cut these up, tossed them with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and salt then roasted them with sliced red onions in a grill pan on the grill for five minutes. Right off the grill I added a splash sesame oil and second splash of soy. You don’t need protein when you’ve got veggies that good!
One more photo of my meager bucket for the day …Remember every little bit of green adds up!
What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):
- homegrown cucumber peels & stem ends (a daily snack or salad component)
- core & outer leaves of a cauliflower
- banana peel hiding underneath
Less in the bucket means more on the plate, right? I pan roasted some wild Keta salmon and paired it with oven roasted cauliflower with lemon & salt, plus baked sweet potatoes. Normally, since we don’t drench the potatoes with anything rodent-attracting I compost those skins, but my dogs were acting like human compost machines yesterday. They enjoyed both the salmon AND sweet potato skins. Either way, no extra green waste hit the landfill!
Soon, I’ll post some photos of the compost pile. It’s looking surprisingly like soil for the lack of effort I’ve been putting into it! I’m feeling great things for the fall…