Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes

It has been a long, productive day in the kitchen. Our 72 tomato plants are flourishing and now is the time to save them to enjoy during the winter months. In the past, the process for freezing tomatoes has been to dip them in boiling water, remove the skins, chop and freeze. This year I am trying something new. It all started with the selection of tomato plants. This year we planted Roma tomatoes in hopes of having a meaty tomato to use in sauces and soup. Inspired by this month's Gourmet magazine, I tried roasting the tomatoes with olive oil and garlic. After roasting the tomatoes, I used a food mill to remove the skins and crush the tomatoes which resulted in a very thick sauce with lots of texture and great flavor. The best part was the ease of preparation and cleanup. Today the garden yielded a harvest of Romas, Juliettes and Sun Gold tomatoes. The Juliettes look like a smaller Roma and have a great flavor. I cut the the Romas and Juliettes in half, drizzled with olive oil and added 6 cloves of garlic to the mixture. After roasting for 1-1/2 hours in a 425 degree F. oven, and run through the food mill, I had a thick rich sauce, suitable for soup for a rich sauce for pasta.Now for the Sun Gold tomatoes. These tiny, marble-size tomatoes are full of flavor. They were roasted for 1 hour along with the Romas and Juliettes. After being food milled, the sauce was thick and a beautiful gold color with a very sweet flavor. I don't think these will make it to the freezer, but will be added to pasta with some basil for dinner tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cream-Style Corn

There is nothing better than fresh, cream-style corn! Mama Head's was the best. I vividly remember the day she called the grandkids in to shuck and silk 12 dozen ears. We all sat under the shade of the oak tree in her side yard and complete our assigned task. I never shuck corn without fondly remembering that day.

This year, Payton planted his first corn. His backyard garden is beautiful and the corn has proved to be prolific and delicious. With 6 dozen ears, I devised a plan to make the task as efficient as possible. With the Gator parked in the shade, I began by cutting the top off the corn to make the shucking easier. While sitting in the chair, I shucked the corn, putting the corn in a laundry basket and leaving all the shucks in the Gator to be dumped into the compost pile.

The next task was to remove the silks. A vegetable brush works great and the cleaned corn was placed in a second laundry basket.

With a very sharp knife, I cut the corn of the cob, about 1/2 way down. You could do this inside, but I highly recommend you stay outside to cut down on the clean-up.

Once the kernels are removed, scrape the cob to get all the sweet goodness!
I tossed the clean cobs into the Gator, giving a few to our dogs, Libby and Lucy as a treat.
Once all the corn is cut and scraped, it is time to blanche it for the freezer. My mom and grandmother always did this in a large iron skillet, stirring constantly to keep the corn from sticking to the bottom of the skillet. This is where I have learned to use the microwave to speed up the process. I cook the corn in batches in a glass bowl, for 4 minutes, and then remove stir and add water as needed. Return to the microwave for another 4 minutes. Stir and add more water if needed. Now, how much water do I add? That depends entirely on the corn and the amount of starch it contains. You want the mixture to be thick, but not dry. Cool the corn, pack into freezer container, label with the date, and freeze. Be sure and save enough for your supper!

For supper, I cooked the corn in the microwave for about 7 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed and seasoned with salt, pepper, and bacon drippings. Or if you have some fatback on hand, fry it up and use the drippings for seasoning. Serve the corn with fresh sliced tomatoes, crowder peas, cornbread and a slice of onion for a delicious southern meal!

Back to Blogging!

I can't believe that it has been two months since my last post! During this time, we have been busy in the garden. Kenny, the Tomato King, has been nurturing his 72 tomato plants. Our plans were to plant more tomatoes this year, but we never dreamed we would more than double our normal crop. We had 34 tomatoes planted when Marshall called to say he had 50 heirloom varieties for us. After sharing some with our family and friends, we carefully planted the rest, and then went to work creating wire baskets and staking the plants. By mid June, we were harvesting our first tomatoes.

What started out as a wet spring, has turned into a very dry summer. Thanks to our well, we are able to water the garden and all the tomatoes have grown and flourished. Our heirloom varieties have been a welcome addition to the garden. One of our favorites is the Cherokee Purple. These tomatoes are beautiful, large and delicious.

In addition to the tomatoes, the garden includes a wide variety of peppers, Japanese eggplant, La France green beans, cucumbers, squash, beets, Swiss chard, herbs and zinnias.

So, will it be two months before my next post? No way! I have too much to share and can't wait to get in the kitchen and cook!