I don’t know about you but I have been very busy for the last few months. It seems like the older I get, the less I get done but the busier I feel. Twenty years ago, I was making plum barbeque sauce, canning and drying tomatoes, and making pickles. Okay, I did make homemade beef jerky recently but the canning has fallen by the wayside. I still love to cook and my small raised bed garden and container garden has provided me with a bounty of produce to utilize.
We’ve been enjoying classic autumn weather-warm dry days and cold, crisp nights. It doesn’t get much better than this! Several of my co-workers have said they have had frost already at their houses. My husband mentioned that we had 1 night that appeared to frost. I harvested what I am sure is the last of the green beans on Sunday. Peppers, too, are done. There are still tomatoes on the vine but my dad and I have been harvesting those quickly, too. With the rain arriving Friday night, it’s time to put the summer garden to bed.
I have pulled out a lot of my summer annuals and replaced them with Chrysanthemums and pansies. There are so many lovely winter hardy plants available to plant in containers or the ground. You shouldn’t have bare anything this winter. I was planning on pulling the rest of my summer annuals out this weekend. We’ll see if there is enough dry weather to accomplish this. I am planning on digging up my Persian Queen Pelargoniums (Geraniums) to winter over. I haven’t done this in the past, but since we have space at the nursery and I have a hard time getting this variety, I am going to try it this winter. My dad successfully winters over his geraniums, so I might as well give it a try, too. The tropical banana needs to go into a greenhouse as well. Next year will probably be its last year as it is getting too big for its pot, but I might as well give it one more season. Also, I want to get as many things pruned back as possible. There are still grapes on the vine and leaves on the trees, so there is a lot I will be doing in the weeks to come.
One thing I am enjoying is cooking up the harvest. I mentioned that my dad and I have been harvesting tomatoes. We have a large container garden at his house. That’s where the majority of the tomatoes were growing. On Sunday he brought me a large container of tomatoes. It wasn’t big enough to can. I had already frozen the last batch. So I thought I would make “sun-dried” tomatoes in my new food dehydrator. The last time I did this, I used paste tomatoes and sliced them and dried them. Unfortunately, I read the instructions this time! They said to blanch, skin and slice. Plus most were not paste tomatoes. Now I’m basically a lazy person. I knew I would have to blanch and skin no matter how I was preserving unless I froze them. (I still have last year’s frozen tomatoes, so that wasn’t going to happen.) Why bother to slice and dehydrate when I could make a lovely, quick tomato sauce? Add a little hamburger and I have a spaghetti sauce. So Sunday night I made a quick, tomato sauce. I have a cookbook that has stunning recipes-The New Vegetarian Epicure. I am not vegetarian but there are some great recipes in this cookbook. So around the dinner preparations, I also made tomato sauce. My husband and I were amazed at the sweetness of the sauce, considering there was no sugar in the recipe. We are trying to be low carb/paleo, so I served it over french cut green beans. (I had cooked the last of the green beans to go with Sunday dinner and then sliced them up for the spaghetti. They weren’t quite as skinny as canned french cut green beans, but I figured they were healthier so that made up for it.)
So here’s the recipe (courtesy of The New Vegetarian Epicure):
Chunky Tomato Sauce
3 pounds ripe red tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large sweet onion
2 Tbsp green olive oil
salt to taste
chopped fresh basil (I used dried)
chopped flat-leaf parsley ( I used dried because I was too lazy to go harvest)
pepper to taste
Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for no more than a minute, then into a bowl of cold water. Remove their skins, trim them, and cut them into wedges or large chunks, saving all the juices.
Finely chop the garlic and coarsely chop the yellow onion. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic and onion in it over high heat, adding a little salt and stirring often, until the onions begin to color.
Add the tomatoes and all their juice to the skillet, and as much chopped basil and parsley as you like. Salt and pepper to taste and stir frequently, still over high heat, until most of the juices have evaporated. If the tomatoes seem to need a little bite, add just a little balsamic vinegar-some tomatoes have less acid than others.
(I didn’t add the balsamic. Maybe that is why it was so sweet!)
With pasta, beans or zucchini pasta-yummy! Enjoy!