Just about perfect

Moneymaker, an English heirloom tomato from 1913, seedlings grown by my friend M

A Moneymaker tomato, hard to beat this one! Pasta with freshly made tomato sauce for dinner tonight!

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First tomato! 

Finally one of our new season tomatoes for lunch. Actually the chickens got the first ripe tomato  – it got ‘sunburned’ on one of our really hot days and then started to rot. The girls thought it tasted just fine.

The first tomato of the season, Genuwine tomato, a cross between Brandywine and Costoluto Genovese

This is the first time we have grown this new variety of tomato ‘Genuwine’, which is a cross between Brandywine and Costoluto Genovese. The flavour is definitely there but it’s performance in our hot weather, in the high 30s° C, is still to be proven. One of our bushes is in the full sun and the second plant does get shade in the afternoon. It will be interesting to see how they go against our more traditional varieties Break O’ Day (1932 Australian commercial variety) and Moneymaker (an English heirloom from 1913). We also have a bush of Black Cherry (bred by the late Vince Sapp), and are looking forward to adding these to our salads.

Happy Returns

I was really chuffed to receive two very thoughtful birthday presents today, both of which had their origins in our garden. They were a ripe Styrian Pumpkin from my friend Bish whose pumpkins have grown while ours have not. This pumpkin was grown from seed which we had grown for Bish’s sons school fete. These pumpkins are grown for their seeds rather than their flesh. The seeds have no hulls so you have peptitas with no pain!

Styrian Pumpkin and Green Tomato Pickle
Styrian Pumpkin and Green Tomato Pickle

The second was a jar of homemade Green Tomato relish from my friend D. Again the tomato seed originated at Chez Fork.

Thanks guys for these great pressies.

The first tomato

We’ve broken our tomato record at last! We picked our first ripe tomato on the 30th of December. Prior to this our best effort was

What caught us by surprise was that it wasn’t the Pink Thai Egg tomato we were expecting, (still at the blushing pink stage),

Thai pink 30 dec

but an outside runner, cherry tomatoes from seed provided by my cousin. OK it was very tiny but at least it was tasty.

first tomato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our eggplants are also doing well. We ate our first one last week a Japanese Long White.

white eggplant

Things are really starting to grow quickly. Over the last two weeks the okra ‘Burgundy’ has fruit. You can see the ripening fruit on the left, while the fruit on the right still has it’s papery covering on it.

okra 30dec

 

The corn has also started to put out its male flowers. These are our Golden Bantam sweet corn.

corn flowers

Last but not least TB has harvested a large bunch of oregano. oregano bouquet

As you can see the bunch barely fitted into the oven. We got two large jars of dried herbs from this bunch. The plant will now have a chance to re-grow and provide at least another crop for drying in the future.

oregano oven

The K.I.S.S Principle 1

Despite the downpour our tomatoes have said sod it with this weather and decided to ripen anyway.

Tomatoes

But this year my heart doesn’t seem to be in making lots of chutney and with the rain all I’m doing is cocooning in the house.

Thank heavens for Amanda Vanstone! (never thought I’d say that!) Not only did she save Christopher Pine’s ‘bacon’ on the first episode of Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet (ABC 2, Wednesdays at 9.30pm), but she provided the simplest tomato and pasta recipe ever, (to be fair it is an Italian staple) – pasta with tomato sauce.

Take about 6 cloves of garlic, peel but don’t cut them up and heat them in a generous amount of olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons) for about 10 minutes, without letting the garlic brown. The aim is to extract the flavour, not cook the garlic.

In the meantime take your pile of garden tomatoes stick them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for a minute or so, then take them out and peel the skin off them. Amanda also had a very handy tip here – stick a fork in the stem end of the tomato so you’ve got something to hold onto when peeling. Having done this you either cut or squish the tomatoes to remove as many of the seeds as possible. When all the tomatoes have been peeled and de-seeded you throw them into the garlic infused oil and let them cook down to a paste-y consistency for 15-20 minutes Stir every 5 minutes to stop them sticking.

In parallel with cooking the tomato you should be cooking your pasta. It is a truism that to make the best of a simple dish you need the best ingredients – so we used the ‘good’ pasta, La Bruzzese Casalinga, made in South Australia, for this dish. You can to see the very rough surface of the pasta, which is perfect for hanging on to all that oily-tomato sauce.

Goodpasta

Just bliss!

Tomatopasta

BTW don’t forget the bread to sop up any left-over juices.

The last of the summer vegs

With the start of the frosts this week we sadly saluted the last of our summer veg with some Italian inspired dishes. The last ripe tomato picked from my sole, sort of surviving, plant in ground, and along with some ‘I’m not dead yet’ basil was used in a classic Pizza Margherita for our lunch – buffalo mozarella, tomato and basil (representing the colours of the Italian flag).

Pizza_m1Pizza_m2

Our friends who came over for dinner on the same day were offered an entree platter of the same ingredients along with some fried anchovy-stuffed and bread-crumbed green olives, all dressed with olive oil and some of Maggie Beer’s Seville Vinacotta.

Antipasti

What a way to go!

 

Autumn flavours

Following a weekend of good food, our expanding waistlines prompted a quick return to less calorie intense veggie dishes, but preferably ones that are not short on flavour.

Thanks heavens it’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to the rescue! Checking out his River Cottage Cookbook I came across a versatile recipe for a roasted tomato sauce that can easily be transformed into a soup.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 to 1.5 kgs of ripe tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic (more or less to your taste)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to your taste.

Turn oven on to 180 degrees C. Cut your tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking tray, cut side up, add salt and pepper. Chop garlic finely and mix into the olive oil and spread evenly over the tomatoes. Bake the tomatoes between 45 to 60 minutes until the tomatoes have crinkled up and the surfaces are browned (up to you how long you cook them but mine took just over an hour).

Roasttom1

Push the cooked tomatoes through a sieve or a vegetable mill (mouli) and there is your tomato paste. Use it straight away or freeze for later.

Roasttom2

Making a Roast Tomato and Pumpkin Soup from your sauce
Roasted Tomato Sauce as above
Stock (any type of stock will do but remember that the better your stock is the better the result will be)
1 1/2 cups peeled & chopped pumpkin (can be more or less depending on how much soup you are making)
3 tablespoons of cooked rice
1-2 teaspoons of sugar (to taste)

Take an equal quantity of roasted tomato sauce and of stock and heat them together. Add your pumpkin and cook it in the tomato/stock mixture until the pumpkin is soft. Add the cooked rice.

Pulse the lot in a blender until smooth. Taste the soup and add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomato. Sit down and enjoy!

Soup

Simple Saturday Pasta

While not everyone has a big veggie garden most of us, at this time of the year, will have plenty of tomatoes ripening. Here is a simple recipe for using up some of those less than perfect tomatoes, a Simple Saturday Pasta with tomato sauce. You can see from the photo that the ingredients are few and basic. All the produce I needed for this dish came from our garden. No amounts will be given, you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself, this version was for two people and it was a medium sized serve (about 140gms of spiral pasta)

Chop up your onions and garlic and soften in some olive oil, let it cook while you chop your basil and tomatoes (TB says my version could have used a LOT more basil – so feel free to bump the amount up). Add the tomato and basil to the saucepan and grind in pepper and salt to your taste. Now put your pasta water on and once it comes to the boil cook your pasta. By the time the pasta has cooked your sauce should be right to go.

Feel free to embellish this recipe by adding any other veggies or herbs that you have to hand. Buono appetito!

I’ve entered this recipe for Grow Your Own #39 competition, hosted by Annie and Nate at the House of Annie, and sponsored by Andreas Recipes. This is a regular event that recognises those who are blogging out there about growing, foraging or hunting and gathering their own food. Go for it, put in an entry, one per blog.

PastaingredTomato_pasta

And the winner is …

Yes my friend M has won the Cherry Tomato class for the production of edible tomato fruit before Christmas. Photographic evidence provided below. Our Cherry tomatoes aren’t even colouring up as yet.

However the battle still rages for the first edible large tomatoes. Here we are neck and neck with M who is trying both some of the same varieties as us, Mortgage Lifter and Siberians, but also several commercially produced varieties. Of course neither of us will have edible fruit this month – perhaps by the end of January! Let me know how your plants are going.

MtomsMtomcl