The First Harvest

Here are some pictures of the tomatoes in my garden.

Purple Cherokee

That is a picture of the Purple Cherokee plant. Sadly, we lost that tomato and the next one to ripen to birds or squirrels or something. I devised a solution that has worked so far. I took them off the plant and set them down next to it. The little scavengers go for those instead, and leave the ones on the plant alone.

early girl

That is the Early Girl. That one is doing quite well now – we have got quite a few tomatoes off it, and they are rich, flavorful paste tomatoes. I don’t think I would use them in a salad, but they work very well in curries.

the crop

That is our first harvest. I’d been pulling the tomatoes off a little early, sadly, so the little thieves didn’t get to them. Since I set the decoy tomatoes down, though, I’ve been able to leave them on until they are ripe. At the top are the tomatillos, washed and ready. The red one on the side, and the orange one next to it, are Early Girls. I let the orange one ripen on the countertop and it did okay. the big one is the Purple Cherokee, which has a splendid flavor. The green ones are Green Zebras, which are tangy and lovely raw. The little yellow cherry ones are off a plant my CSA gave to us with our first share. It is a stellar producer of very tasty and sweet tomatoes. As tomatoes go.


Spaghetti, braised garlic, and bread

Dinner tonight celebrates the end of spring cleaning, and an apartment that is clean, if not entirely neat. There’s two graduate students in the house. We have a lot of paper, and the OH’s filing system involves pile sorts on the floor.
But we’re clean and neat-ish now, so we spent a little time over dinner and didn’t give in to the Ramen demon (who is a good friend and visits frequently).

Spaghetti sauce for vegetarians (and vegans):
I’m not a big fan of thick gooey spaghetti sauces, or cheesy ones, so I like this sauce a lot. It’s light, spicy, and full of flavorful vegetables.

Ingredients: One large onion, a few cloves of garlic (as much as you like), tomatoes (at least one large one), crushed red pepper, one large bell pepper (use green or yellow for added color), salt to taste, lots of Italian seasoning, one bay leaf, two dried red chilies, oil, preferably olive.

How to: Chop the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic as small as you are willing to make the effort to go.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add the bay leaf and dried red chilies. Wait a couple minutes, give them a quick stir, and add the onions. Stir and cook till golden but not brown. Add the pepper. Cook, stir now and again, till you smell the peppers. Cook about four more minutes, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Add the crushed red peppers (as much as you can stand). Add the Italian seasoning. You could use fresh herbs, and if you can get them, I highly recommend it. Much better flavor.
(Put your pasta on to boil now, follow instructions on the packet).

Add salt, stir everything, add some water if needed, and let it all simmer at least ten minutes, half an hour if you can. Keep checking to make sure it’s not burning. If it’s getting too dry, add some water. I tend to have it slightly liquidy, but you can let it dry a bit, if you like.

Drain the pasta, add the sauce, and you’re good to go. I don’t like cheese on my pasta, but that’s your call.

Braised garlic
I got this recipe from the NYT; here’s the link. What I did was to reduce the amount of garlic, since there are only two of us eating.

My version is small-scale. Heat some olive oil (about 1/4 cup or less), add about 20 cloves of peeled garlic, keep the heat on medium-to-low, let the garlic sizzle, sprinkle salt over it, keep turning, take off the heat when browned and tender. Store in the fridge, oil and all. Be careful not to let it burn when you are cooking it. Looks good, doesn’t it? We like to mush it up a bit and eat it over bread. Speaking of which, the OH has baked another one of his marvelous loaves tonight, so dinner is quite a feast. Spaghetti, braised garlic, and fresh-baked sourdough bread.


What was it about a jug of wine, a loaf of bread,
and someone who can bake the best damn bread in the world?