Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Monday, 8/27/2012

On Thursday night, I was in complete shock.  While out in the garden, I noticed the familiar striped green shape of zucchini.  I knew the plants were still trying to flower a little, but I had no idea that any had set fruit big enough to be picked.  I did a little investigating and found 6 big zucchini and one just about ready to be picked!  To think last week I was lamenting what to do with all that zucchini!  Now with 7 more, I really have a dilemma!

My tomatoes have not been ripening well this past 2 weeks, as we hit a big of a cool-down.  The weather has been beautiful for evenings in the garden, but unfortunately my tomatoes haven't appreciated it.  The cherry tomatoes didn't seem to mind, though, and I picked several baskets of them this week.  I did pick 4 more red peppers, though, and they were delicious!

I haven't had a chance to start my fall garden yet, but I have cleared a patch where it will go.  I'm hoping to get to work during the evenings this week, or on Saturday at the latest. 

To see more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zucchini Mozzarella Rounds

Like many of you, I'm having mixed feelings about zucchini right now.  It's been such a bad year in the garden that I am grateful for every crop that has done well.  However, with a freezer full of shredded and diced zucchini for breads and soups, those 8 zucchini sitting on my counter have lost some of their charm.  Ok, almost all of their charm.  We've had zucchini casserole, zucchini sticks, zucchini quesadillas, ziti, steamed zucchini, fried zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini get the idea.  I've run out of ways to make zucchini exciting.

Over the weekend, I came across this new, and simple, recipe for zucchini mozzarella rounds.  They were fast, easy, and very tasty.

Zucchini Mozzarella Rounds

1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 c. mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, turning them once at 5 minutes.  Remove zucchini from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Place baking sheet under the broiler and broil approximately 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.  Remove and enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday, 8/20/2012

Peppers and tomatoes have been my big stars this week.  I harvested 6 red bell peppers, 1 green pepper, and another 20 tomatoes.

Sadly, my pineapple tomatoes have not been doing well the past couple of weeks and I had to pull them up this weekend.

My sungold cherry tomatoes have had another burst of energy, and a whole new set has ripened.  I froze another 2 bags for use in soups this winter.

We've had a very rainy couple of weeks, which has been great for the garden except that it has encouraged bug breeding.  Suddenly the garden is full of them!  I've never seen squash bugs leave the squash patch, but this week I found one eating a tomato!  They've also wreaked havoc on the Swiss Chard, but luckily I've already filled my freezer with enough to last thru the winter.  I did pick a nice bunch for fresh eating, and threw out about twice as much that was too damaged to bother with.

I also harvested 2 more zucchini.  I now have quite a bit laying on the counter, as I haven't had a chance to do much with them in the last couple of weeks.  Good thing zucchini lasts a while!

To see more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Canning Adventure: Tomato Jam

I went out to the garden mid-week and was surprised to find a ton of ripe tomatoes!  I hadn't expected another big ripening until this weekend! 

I recently came across a recipe for Tomato Jam and have been thinking about nothing else since then, so I decided to whip up a batch.  The recipe, from Food in Jars, called for some interesting ingredients including fresh ginger, lime juice, and red pepper flakes.  The resulting jam is a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little tangy.  It will taste great over a soft cheese with crackers!

About 8 pounds of tomatoes yielded 3 pints with about a cup and a half left over to try.  Not terribly impressive yields, but the tomatoes did need to cook down a lot!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harvest Monday, 8/13/2012

The cherry tomatoes have finally peaked.  As much as I love the, I have to say that I was relieved when this week's total harvest was only a little over a pint. Abundant harvests of cherry tomatoes have been replaced by Roma, Mortgage Lifter, and Rutgers.  They have all finally started to ripen in great numbers and I was able to can 8 pints.

As you can see in the photo above, hiding among the tomatoes, I also harvested 4 more zucchini this week.  The zucchini patch is definitely on its way out, but it looks like I will get a few more zucchini this season.

My red peppers are finally starting to ripen and I harvested 7 this week!  I don't have a photo of all 7, but these are the larger ones.
On Saturday, I dug up my potato plants.  I got a pretty nice harvest, although not as many potatoes per plant as past years.

To see more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

Finally!  Lots of tomatoes ripened this week and I was able to make a nice batch of hot-packed canned tomatoes. 

The first time I ever canned tomatoes I think I spent almost a day getting everything prepped, cut, cooked, and then canned.  I must be getting speedier with practice because I managed to get 8 pints canned in about 2.5 hours!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Harvest Monday, 8/6/2012

It was another week of travel, and little time to spend in the garden.  I came home to mountains of ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes -- so many that I actually froze some for the first time ever.  I also had a handful of Roma tomatoes ripen, although I am very disappointed with them.  As a determinate variety, I expected them to ripen all at once, but that sure hasn't been the case.    

In other tomato news, someone is eating holes in my larger tomato varieties.  I had to throw several away because they were so bad.

My zucchini plants have set more flowers, and this week I harvested 3 more zucchini.  (2 are pictured below).

And finally, I have another cucumber.  I think that makes a season total of 3!

To see more Harvest Monday posts, check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pickled Beets

Over the weekend, I harvested all of the beets in my garden.  I had promised my dad a jar of pickled beets, so I decided to can a batch on Saturday.  I've never made pickled beets before, but I've done tomatoes, jam, and applesauce.  I figured that pickling would be the next logical step in my canning education.   

It was quite an adventure and I'm not at all happy with my Ball canning book at the moment.  The pickled beet recipe could use a serious update.  Here's what happened -- I was doing so well.  I selected uniform-sized beets, boiled them according to the directions, then slipped off their skins and quartered them.  I made my pickling liquid and added the beets once it came to a boil.  I got my jars ready and was all set up.  And then I filled my first jar with beet slices up to the 1/2 inch mark and attempted to fill in the gaps with the pickling liquid.  By the time I had added enough liquid to cover the beets up to the 1/2 inch mark, I was out of liquid -- and 5 jars of beets yet to go!  I was so mad.  I had to start over.  I tripled the amount of pickling liquid and barely had enough for the rest of my jars.  Which, by the way, made 5 jars not 6 as the recipe indicated.

I am pleased with the final product, and all of my jars did seal nicely.  But really, I would expect much better accuracy from a Ball recipe.