Nosh

Top Notch Tomatoes

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I refuse to believe that summer is over.  I know that the leaves turning, the cooler nights, the back-to-school buzz and the last long weekend over screams otherwise but I refuse to believe it!  I can just frolic in oblivion right? Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy!  If you’re like me and continue to try and wring every last drop out of this season I have a super quick and delicious appetizer or meal accompaniment that is hanging onto summer just as hard as I am!

The tomatoes are bountiful right now and I’m happily picking buckets of this amazing fruit every morning using them in batches of salsa, sauce, slow-roasting them for soups and delicious bases and eating them fresh at every turn.  My mom gave E and two of his friends a tomato plant in the spring to take care of for the summer months and see who’s bares the biggest fruit.  He has taken great care in his plant, watering and watching it grow.  The other day he picked his first ripe tomato and then two more in the following days…He’s patiently waiting for more to turn.  I love that he’s interested in growing and tending to his own food.  Farmer through and through!

This recipe works with whatever kinds of tomatoes you have…grape, cherry, roma, heirloom, it makes no difference.  Just chop the larger ones up into quartered sections and feel free to leave the little ones right on the vine. (I love how this looks!). Toss them all into a baking dish, along with a bulb or two of garlic, sliced in half, a couple sprigs of thyme, a wheel or square of feta, a liberal drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 400* until the tomatoes are bubbling and browning and the feta is getting a golden crust.  Serve hot and bubbly with toasty baguette and a chilled bottle of proseco or a lemon-minted soda spritz and friends.  I swear it will prolong that summer feeling!

Recipe Recap:

  • Assorted tomatoes (large cut into smaller quarter sections)
  • 1-2 bulbs garlic (sliced in half)
  • fresh thyme
  • feta (wheel or square)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Bake in a 400* oven until golden, bubbly and garlic is softened.
Create

Spring-ful Sprouts!

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Spring!! Nothing beats the smell of an open window, or the warmth of the sunshine as the snow starts to melt.  A new sense of energy fills our home and anticipation for the season ahead is undeniable.  The birds are starting to come back and sing their sweet tunes, the days are getting longer and the puddles are getting bigger.  It’s around this time that I dig out my gardening books and start planning!  This year in anticipation for Canada’s 150 I’m going with a patriotic colour scheme of red and white!  And for the first time ever I’m not only starting my own tomatoes, peppers and marigolds but also petunias.  I’ve been fore-warned that they are finicky so I’m crossing my fingers I have some beginner’s luck!

Every year I record my plans for planting in my garden book.  I keep any receipts or information tags for any fruit trees I grow as well.  I record when I start my indoor plants as well as when I transplant things into larger pots or straight into the garden.  I like to practice a bit of “crop rotation” in my garden as well…rotating where things are planted each year.  This year we’re going to make my garden a bit bigger too!  As E grows so does his appetite and I love to have things that I’ve grown put away for the winter.  Canning, freezing, and pickling are a huge project in the fall that is so appreciated come snowfall!

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E and I started our petunias on March 6th.  They need longer to germinate and grow than tomatoes and peppers (which I typically start at the end of March/beginning of April).  The seeds are like pearls, tiny and perfectly round.  We planted some red ones, white ones and some fancier ones, “Fire Frost” which are red with white frosted tips.  I have a beautiful set of patio doors facing south in our house that I put an old table in front of to start my plants.  The sunshine is perfect here and I’ve had great luck in the past (plus it’s relatively out of the way in our small home!).

E helped me dig out my potting supplies, lug in the potting soil and separate the pots.  We made labels with wooden coffee stir sticks and began our planting.  I wasn’t sure if E was understanding anything from our planting day other than how fun it is to play in the dirt.  I was wrong! He was so proud to show his dad our finished products and explain to him “seeds”!! I was a bit nervous that E would want to continue to play in the dirt after planting, that it would possibly be a daily “fight” to keep him out of our seedlings.  I hoped that by teaching him what we were doing and letting him help he’d have some pride in our work and leave them alone!  So far that plan has worked…knock on wood!

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E likes to help me water our seeds and we anxiously examine the pots daily to look for sprouts.  By March 20th only three little dots of green had emerged…not a great start.  So I replanted.  Typically the petunias take 5-10 days to germinate (says the package) so I’ll continue to be patient to see if there’s life in the re-sown pots! And if not I’ll have to purchase some red and white petunias on our annual girls-day-out greenhousing tour!

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Today we started our tomatoes and peppers and a few “vanilla marigolds” to put in pots around the yard (hopefully with our sprouted petunias)! I like to plant a lot of seeds, better to have too many plants than not enough. I share with my mom and brothers this way too!  This year we added a couple more varieties of tomatoes to our repertoire; “San Marzano” and “Red Hybrid”.  I have had great luck with “Beefsteak” and “Subarctic Plenty” in the past so we planted those again as well as the ever popular in field meals “Sweet Million” cherry tomatoes and this year some “Yellow Tom Toms” too!  I planted extra jalapeños this year too as pickled jalapeños are a staple in this house and we ran out quick this winter!

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I think my favourite thing about gardening is witnessing the amazingness of nature on a regular basis.  There is such pride in nurturing your own fruits and vegetables and reaping the benefits of your labor come harvest.  Being farm-to-table from your very own hands is remarkable and so rewarding!  I love to nurture my gardens and watch the hummingbirds and butterflies flit around my blooms.  It’s a pride that I hope to pass on to E as well.  Taking care of our yard and enjoying the sunshine, being respectful and grateful for Mother Nature, learning the importance of the farm-life and that hard-work truly pays off are such amazing qualities to pass on to the next generation! I’m so grateful that our parents nurtured this within us while we were little.  I love spring!!