List of Article with: Tomato
My mother brought the seeds back from the garden of her cousin because they were the best tomatoes, huge, the size of a softball, deep red, juicy and delicious. She has grown them for years and faithfully saved the seeds unlike me, who flits from variety to variety. This year, though, I saved seeds from what we call the French tomato for planting next year. In researching how to, I found that tomato seeds are viable for ten years if stored in a cool, dry place.
Choose a ripe, heirloom tomato, the best one.
Cut it across the equator, squeeze the seeds, pulp, and juice out into a small cup and cover with water. After about three days, a white, orange, greenish mold will form on the surface. This means that the gelatinous coating on the seeds has dissolved. Scrape off and discard the mold and any seeds that are floating. You want the seeds sitting at the bottom of the cup. Refill the cup with water, and carefully pour off any remaining pulp, repeat until the water is clear.
Spread the rinsed seeds onto a paper plate or paper towel lined plate that will wick the water away from the seeds so they dry fast and won’t get moldy. Once dry, put them in a labeled envelope, baggie, or other container and store in a cool, dry place.
Overloaded with heirloom tomatoes and cucumber I needed to make Gazpacho. Of Spanish origin, it is made by chopping fresh tomato, cucumber, fennel, onion, garlic, parsely and a touch of sherry vinegar, not unlike panzanella another excellent use of vine ripened tomatoes. I also made sweet potato falafels, baked rather than fried, to drop into saffron scented chickpea soup, which happens to be gluten free. Delicious.
Besides the bush tomatoes, the most exciting new variety is sweet red corn. I’m trying again to grow violet artichokes, we’ll have to see. I’ve not had not much luck with them. Then we have the usual suspects: cucumbers, squashes, beans, chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuces, peas, amaranth, beets, fennel, leeks, radish, broccoli, basil, parsley, scallions, dill, coriander, chervil, and cumin. And the standards: sage, chives, sorrel, oregano, asparagus, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, the fruit trees and kiwi. Mostly heirloom varieties, finally all planted. Whew!
I got ahead of myself when the warm weather arrived and planted the tomatoes. Foolishness. The weather changed rapidly, like it does here and then we had a week of frost. I could have checked the National Climatic Data Center, it lists each state’s last (and first fall) frost dates by major city. I was hoping to be able to just cover them overnight but strong wind came with the cold. So, I dug them up and put them back in the greenhouse. Planted 30 tomatoes, again, today. They are blooming and hopefully we will be eating and serving them by mid-July.
Pouring over seed and plant catalogs is a favorite pastime. The catalogs usually begin arriving in the mailbox at the New Year, though the last couple of years a few came just before Thanksgiving. For me that’s too early since the joy of looking and looking is the time after the holidays when there is snow on the ground and spring is months away. I am partial to a couple of companies like Johnny’s of Maine, who are so right in all they do, Nichols Garden Nursery of Oregon who have unusual plants where I’ve picked up hops, lingonberries, lemon, pomegranate, kaffir lime and olive trees. Pine Tree Seeds who carry small packets that are perfect for trying new varieties and they have many gladiolus and other bulbs. They also carry soap making supplies, something I have yet to try.
So far the tomatoes, peppers, leeks are sprouted. Last year I planted the tomato varieties pineapple, brandywine, rose, and cherokee purple and the blight took them all! My step father used an old farmer’s trick from France and had a bounty of tomatoes. If it comes around again this year, I’ll get the details and share. Planted for this season, we’ll be eating beefsteak, bush tomato and cherry. I choose the beefsteak for their size, bush for their early yields and pretty silvery foliage and I’ll be able to bring in a couple for the winter as the claim is they do well in containers. I’ll put the cherry tomatoes in the rooms as treats for our guests. They are like popping candy. Just two varieties of pepper, ancho and thai,will be planted this year. Sweet and hot.
It’s been a typical tricky start with green house temperatures soaring to 90 degrees in the sun and dropping down to 50 with cloud cover. What a wild spring we’re having weather-wise. This week I’ll start the cucumbers and herbs. The petunias, love lies bleeding, lavender, castor bean, cosmos, verbena and verbascum have germinated. The delphiniums need transplanting. The potted sweetpeas are makng blooms!
This year we are offering a special appetizer and two entrée specials in addition to our regular menu.
Curing is a great way to treat a stewed tomato. It brings out the flavor of tomatoes like they were just picked, ripe off the vine. We’re pairing them with tangy goat cheese and fresh marjoram (from the greenhouse!) served on a flaky puff pastry square.
Artichoke peak season is March through May so it was a natural choice. I put a twist on what is classic, served in my family at room temperature with vinaigrette. Lately I’ve been on a ravioli craze, so I made a stuffing of pureed artichoke hearts, caramelised onion and brioche breadcrumbs, with a little nutmeg and thyme. We’ll top them off with sweet sautéed crayfish and serve it with Chimichurri, an Argentine sauce of chervil and parsley (fresh from the garden!), garlic, grated carrot, lemon and olive oil.
Peter is breaking down a leg of lamb for grilling. Tender choice morsels are dry rubbed with a mix of smoked paprika, dried oregano, ground coriander, ground ginger, ground cardamom, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Grilled to perfection and served with a relish made from chopped fresh mint, golden raisins and pine nuts. On the side, we’ll be serving risi e bisi, a creamy Venetian dish made with a rich chicken stock, arborio rice, onion, garlic, pancetta, spring peas and parmesean.
And fresh asparagus with lemon!
We’ll be open from 2 pm. 688-7100 to reserve.