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A Treasured Heirloom

A Treasured Heirloom © Andor (1)

Last year, I tried growing a variety of tomato called Cherokee Purple. Sadly, last year, spring was quite late and I had a pathetic harvest of one tomato, as noted in the post on this site called ‘Love at First Spite.’ This year I tried them again. Much like the previous year, spring was late, but I got them planted about 2 weeks earlier than before. Thankfully, I have a lot more to eat this time around. Varying in size from 3 to 6 and a half inches across, they have grown in such thick clusters that I’ve had to do a large amount of thinning to prevent rot, due to over crowding. The key to these tomatoes is the taste. They are simply better than most, if not all of the other varieties available. Even the under-ripe 6 inch 1.7 pounder pictured below is tastier than any other tomato I’ve ever grown, or gotten from a grocery store. I never thought I would actually like tomatoes, but I do now… Thank goodness some plants will still give us seeds that will grow into more food.A Treasured Heirloom © Andor (2)


Love at First Spite

This has not been a good year in the garden for Me.. Most of the food stuffs I planted, did not take very well. Unlike last year, we didn’t work any compost or peat moss into the raised beds. I think that, in combination with the nearly two month delay in the arrival of spring, immediately followed by several weeks of extreme heat, really set things back. The carrots and parsnips have been puny and pathetic. The peas and beans have grown in a rather lack-lustre manor and the peppers, bak choi, spinach and tomatoes have been a joke. Even My citrus trees suffered from the odd weather. I started putting them Outside once the temps at night seemed to stop going below 55 degrees. Only to have My older keifer lime and younger blood orange bitten by frost. Happily, both have bounced back very well. Unlike the apple tree, which openned most of it’s flowers in a beautiful display, on a day temps dippped into the 30s. Needless to say, at least 75% of the pottential bounty promptly died off. With such slim pickings, the squirrels, who usually get most the apples, have taken nearly all of them.

I planted two varities of tomatoes for 2012, a cherry type called Gardener’s Delight and Cherokee Purple, which is often compared to Brandywine, but with a more robust flavor. Both were started in planters, indoors, late in the winter as usual. Then, spring didn’t bother showing up and they started dying. So I planted another round and waited for the weather to start warming, but it didn’t. Seven weeks after the ‘normal’ planting time, and 5 weeks after starting the second round of tomatoes, I finally put some in the ground. I should have just sewn in seeds, but I planted the best looking of the seedlings I had growing, even though they were stunted from being in tiny starter planters for 5 weeks. After 2 weeks showing no signs of change, both varieties started growing! The first flowers did not appear until the end of June. Both plants grew to about 2 feet, kicked out about half a dozen flowers and are yeilding 3 to 6 tomatoes. They have stopped growing taller and aren’t really flowering. It’s sad… Last Year I grew a pair of Hybrid Zebra Cherry Tomatoes, which are a cross of green and red zebra stripe cherry tomatoes. They grew taller than Me, delivering 1200ish amazingly yummy little morsels. Needless to say, I am quite disappointed in this year’s crop. Then, the very day I was going to pick My three Cherokee Purples, some hateful little critter stole two of them! Leaving them, partially eaten, on the ground nearby. So My crop is a solitary, scarred tomato that grew to only half the size of a usual C. P.

And so, in the twilight hours of the last day in July, I partook in the suprizingly delicious little thing. I’m not really a tomato person.. I grow them, mostly, cause they are good for You. But this thing was really good! I however, did it no justice. With My stomach growling, I broke out some tortillas, cheese, spinach and some ‘pulled bbq chicken’ from a plastic tub. It was pretty good, for a 4am food excursion. While eating it, I just couldn’t help but feel like I should have made something, well, better.. I wasted the best tomato I’ve ever tasted, the single fruit of My months long labor, on a bit of pre-packaged, over sugar’ed, microwaved, remnants of meat. At least I ate some of the tomato and snapped a couple pictures before constructing dinner. If things go better next year and they give more bounty and viable seeds, I’ll grow these Cherokee Purple Tomatoes forever!


Beef Fajitas

A staple in Mexican-American cooking! This Fajita makes for one tasty meal. Despite first appearances, it’s very easy to prepare as well! Traditionally served with Sour Cream and Avocados. Can be made in as little as 45 minutes. Serves 4-6 people.

Supplies Needed:

A Frying Pan or Skillet, Large Mixing Bowl, Knife and Cutting Board.

Ingredients:

1 and a half pounds of Beef Skirt Steak(or another tender Steak) – cut into strips
1 Bell Pepper – de-seeded and sliced into strips
3 Garlic Cloves – minced
the juice of half a Lime
1 tsp of Chipotle or Mild Chili Pepper Powder
1/2 tsp of Paprika
1/2 tsp of Ground Cumin
2 tblsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Your own taste
12 Flour Tortillas
and possibly a little Cooking Oil

Pico de Gallo Salsa Ingredients:

6-8 ripe Tomatoes – diced
3 Scallions – diced
4-6 Radishes – diced
1 or 2 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers – de-seeded and minced
3 or 4 tblsp of fresh Cilantro – diced
adding Cumin, Salt, and Pepper to Your liking

Prep and Cooking:

Combine the Beef, Garlic, Lime Juice, Chili/Chilipotle Powder, Paprika, Cumin, and Olive Oil in a Mixing Bowl. Salt and Pepper to Taste. MIX WELL. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. As with most meat marinades, covered in the fridge overnight is best.

To make the Pico de Gallo Salsa, put the diced Tomatoes in a bowl with the Scallions, Serrano/Jalapeno, Radishes, and Cilantro. Using Salt, Pepper, and Cumin to Your liking. Set the Salsa aside for now.

Heat the Tortillas in a LIGHTLY Oiled non-stick fry pan, one or 2 at a time. Covering with foil as You go to keep them warm and pliable.

Stir fry the Bell Pepper strips til done, then set aside.

Stir fry the Beef and marinade with a bit of cooking oil until the meat is browned and cooked through.

At this time You can add everything together on plates to serve, OR just put it all out on a table so everyone can ‘build their own’ fajitas…

NOTES:

If using Avocados, they are to be pitted, sliced and then tossed in Lime Juice(good use for the other half of the Lime not called for in this recipe, use 1-2 Avocados).

Onions also work well! I’d do them with the Bell Peppers..

Some people just put Tortillas in the micro-wave… One at a time, or they’ll stick to each other. High heat for 10-30 seconds, depending on Your microwave… This method may also make them a little tough around the edges if You over do it.