Saturday, June 20, 2009

And the heat goes on... plus a recipe

Today is the 2nd day of 90 degree heat - blech.  I am, without a doubt, NOT a heat-loving person.  I went out at 2:00 today to take a couple of photos and fill up the kiddie pool, and the 10 minutes I was outside was enough for me, ideally for the whole week (the lowest temp in the 5 day forecast is 87).  This is when gardening gets tough for me.  I want no part of pulling weeds in the mid-day heat during naptime, and I don't want to get up at 6:30 AM to do it before the girls get up.  Thankfully (or not so thankfully from a humidity standpoint) we've had quite a bit of rain, so things in the garden are withstanding the heat fairly well.

One thing did make my trek out into the heat this afternoon worth it - my first tomato is ripening!  I have 4 "known" varieties of tomatoes in the garden, and about 5-6 "unknown" volunteer plants that germinated from stuff thrown in the compost bin (I obviously don't maintain a hot pile).  The 4 kinds that I know are growing are San Marzano, Amish Paste, Cherokee Purple and Mr. Stripey.  All are heirlooms, so I'm planning to save seed for next year. The San Marzano is going to have the first ripe tomato.  Actually, it's the only one with a tomato at all right now.  Everything else is just blossoms.  I am actually very excited about the San Marzanos.  As a lover of basically all Italian food (I studied for a summer in Italy in college, which got me totally hooked) the San Marzano is the quintessential Italian paste tomato.  I am looking forward to much homemade marinara sauce this summer and fall, between the San Marzanos and the Amish Pastes.  I have not had a lot of luck with regular Romas the past 2 years - they got blossom end rot really bad - much worse than any of the other plants I had, so I decided to see if either of these do better.

I also visited the West Chester Farmers Market this morning.  I bought a small bunch of red onions from the Gravel Knoll Farm booth, but there wasn't a lot of produce at this point that I haven't grown myself, with the exception of beets, which are not my favorite.  I did buy some absolutely delicious lemon curd from the lady that sell homemade frozen scone dough - I have been eating some slowly with just a spoon this afternoon.  I basically love all things lemon.  It tastes a lot like the custard part of a lemon meringue pie.  (Insert a Homer Simpson-esque gutteral Mmmmmm.... here).  I also got some homemade raspberry jam, and an organic, pasture-raised skirt steak for fajitas.   (Another Mmmmm....)  Kate and Claire came with me today, and happily got snow cones - they even had a lemonade flavor which was colorless (a big plus as I knew Claire would end up wearing as much as she ate).  They also have an awesome scavenger hunt program for kids, where there is a "clue" each week that the kids have to search the different tents to find.  When they find the clue, they tell the person working the booth and they get a wooden nickel.  They save up the wooden nickles and at the last 2 markets of the year in October they can spend them on kid stuff.  Kate was so excited to find the clue.

On a final note, in honor of the first tomato, I'll leave you with a simple, tasty, healthy recipe involving fresh tomatoes.  This is a staple recipe from my friends Jill & Brad.

Corn & Black Bean Salsa
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can hominy or yellow corn, drained (if using fresh, blanch quickly to soften just a tad)
2 - 3 medium tomatoes diced (you can use diced from a can, rinsed & drained if it's not tomato season yet)
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro (or more to taste)
3 T olive oil
3 T lime juice
1 1/2 tsp cumin

Combine in a medium to large bowl and chill for 2 hours for flavors to meld.  Serve with tortilla chips, or even just with a spoon!  The picture below is minus cilantro, which I hadn't trekked out to pick yet.


  1. That's interesting that you're growing amish paste and san marzano. When I was contemplating which paste tomatoes to grow, I almost went with those same two. Of course Opalka won in the end, because the shear size of it is quite appealing. Can't wait to see you make homemade marinara!

  2. Those were the only 2 paste tomatoes I could find already started around here. I have two small children, and did not get around to ordering and starting seed ahead myself this year - next year, I swear I will!

    I'm sure there will be pictures of the marinara, as Kate absolutely loves to "squish tomatoes" (we have my mom's old Squeezo strainer that separates the juice and paste from the seeds, skin and fiber). Last year she started begging to squish other things like peppers and beans and carrots and was quite bummed when I explained those wouldn't really work.

  3. I love the Amish paste they are so prolific! I wish you could send some of that heat out to SF., it's freezing!


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