Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Panic cooking

Anyone else scared of their crisper right now? Because I am. And I'm imagining that all of you reading that first question are now raising your hands and waving them around - maybe even propping up your arm with your other hand to make it higher in the air like you would if you were a 2nd grader who finally had the answer or really had to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes I reminisce about my school age years, so what.

Anyway - I'm scared of the crisper and the garden right now because all of it's full. All the time. Even after I make a big meatless dinner and fill up the kitchen composter with the dinner-makin' scraps and then give a bunch of vegetables to the cleaning lady and take a big sack of stuff to work.

It's like the mail, remember like I said, it doesn't stop.

But, thankfully we have to eat every day and thankfully Bubba will eat whatever I make even when it's poisonous, so slowly but surely we're digging ourselves out from beneath this ever-growing pile of produce.

I know. I make mundane shit seem really dramatic. It's a talent I've cultivated over many unglamorous years.

That aside, here's some stuff I've made and things I've done lately to save us from complete takeover from the invasive monsters known as tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, beans, strawberries, tomatillos and cucumbers.

And because I'm super nice, I linked to recipes that you can print. See mom, I can do nice things.

Panzanella (I didn't add cucumber)
Bonus: It uses up stale leftover bread from Book Club.

This was only my first of three consecutive servings because I'm a whore for this salad.

Spicy Tomato Pie with Sausage 
Bonus: It uses a lot of tomatoes and, if you have a basil plant bushing out beyond its borders, you can make homemade pesto and really clear out some garden space.

This is my favorite thing to eat all year. Really, now.

Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes
Bonus: If you make hamburgers one night, you can use leftover burgers for the filling. And bell peppers. And when you have extra filling, you can use it for spring roll filling the next night. Like, tonight for instance.

The sauce on top might look gloopy but it's GOOD.

Canning them to my heart's (and cupboard's) content
Bonus: If you have lemon trees nearby, you can bypass the weird "bottled lemon juice" part of this recipe. And then it will look super cute in your cupboard. Not because of the lemon juice but because of the jars. You know what I mean.

That one in the middle is the cutest. Two tomatoes stuffed in there whole. I'm proud of myself - shuttup.

Yeah. So, I didn't make a recipe so much as I cut one open, found that it wasn't ripe yet, cut up half of it into cubes and scarfed its light-pink likeness to watermelon while watching Arrested Development with Bubba. It's still good that way even if you don't do fancy things with it and even though it's not properly ripe yet.

And do you like that I have a book about melons? Random.

No, I didn't pickle the rinds. I'm not that desperate for a project yet. Yet.

Uh...so, I am just adding them to everything. Including the Panzanella and Stuffed Tomatoes up there. Enjoy that.

No new recipes here, but I have found that a cleverly positioned guilt trip on a manager can go a long way toward making a 2 lb bag of beans disappear. Same goes for a cleaning lady who "loves all vegetables". Bless her. She says she doesn't "do yard work", but I've found a way to make that happen. Sneaky bitch, that I am.

I still do my own harvesting, though.

Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart

Mine looks not as awesome as the recipe's, but it still tasted way good.

Salsa Verde
I may have accidentally made this very spicy. Which will be fun to hear about after I give it as gifts and all those people file restraining orders against me and my canned goods.
I likey spicy.

Mexican Tomatillo and Avocado Soup
Yeah. This soup was, I believe I called it - "HERBY". Because it was. Lots of oregano in there and I also added a lot of cilantro that was bolting in the garden. Plus the onions were very fresh and bright and the tomatillos aren't cooked so they're very green tasting and voila - it was herby. Proceed with caution.

I can say, "Chillin'" without any irony, here.

This year I'm pickling anything that stands still. And, to me, pickling cucumbers means making either kosher or sour dills rather than that filthy sweet phenomenon known as bread and butter which I find repulsive and an affront to the pickle eating community.

You don't want to offend these pickles.

Seriously. That's gross.

That is 15 cups of future relish, right there.

So far I've made dill spears, dill chips and dill relish from the pickling cucumbers and soon (heat willing) I'll make whole dills and Mexican Sour Gherkin Mini Watermelon dills. Just imagine these all packed into a jar with a hundred of their friends and a sour dill brine. Cute and delicious, I'd say.

Definitely cute. They're deliciousness is yet to be determined.

I use my handy and lewd sounding Ball Blue canning book for all my canning and a variation of this recipe for my dill pickles. The variation being that I use Mrs. Wages spice packet rather than the Ball one because I've never seen the Ball packet anywhere and already feel like a pickling failure for not using just the dill I've got around the house.

To even the score, I use a blue canner. That makes things fair, right?

For the relish, though, I did mix my own spices and those were dill seed and turmeric, so it wasn't too imaginative. Less cheating though, which I feel is a personal triumph.

This didn't taste like cheating. It tasted like, "Where's my muther effing hot dog?"

Hopefully this post will help someone who's currently gasping for air from below a two story pile of vegetables, but even if it doesn't, I will be satisfied because I got to post this photo of the prettiest tomato so far:

And this photo of the largest tomato so far:

1 pound 13 ounces of sweet tomato love, right there.

If you haven't checked the Garden Tracker lately (or ever? What's the matter with you?), we're about 1/4 of the way to last year's final total of 200+ lbs.

That's a lot of freaking out left to do. Look forward to that.


  1. If it makes you feel any better, I use dill from my garden to make my pickles, and then they have to sit and steep or whatever for EIGHT WEEKS! At least when you use the pickling spices, you only have to wait like two weeks. I've made 56 quarts of pickles in the past week and I had to buy a jar at the store today because mine won't be ready until Halloween. That is just wrong.

  2. I guess your chilly summer isn't so much affecting production.

    Aren't you freezing more this year, what with that fabulous chesty you have? Or is it now full up with happy meats?

  3. P.S. I would have raised my hand at the beginning, except I'm too sore from bending over to harvest every-fucking-thing in the garden and then hauling around a 40-pound dishpan of produce and huge canners full of water.

    Someone should book me a massage during canning season.

  4. I have serious tomato envy now Finny! Mine aren't producing a lot, except for the stupid yellow pear tomatoes! Any brilliant ideas for those?

  5. That relish picture is awesome! I wish my basil was pushing its boarder so I could make some pesto. Heh. I can barely keep it alive!

  6. Are thse really, really minature watermelons??? Thay are so darned cute! Can you eat them off the vine or do they need pickling??? I am so in love with those!
    I don't remember you mentioning them before. Did I miss a day or two somewhere?

  7. i love knowing that someone else is canning as much as we are, and pickling "anything that moves!"
    i can relate. pickled okra is the best. i promise.

    salsa verde should always be hot. anyone lucky enough to receive a jar of that as a gift, will be tickled pink.


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