The weather this summer continues to be a polar opposite from last year. We started this week with some heat and humidity but we ended up with temps that were extraordinarily cool for a Saint Louis style July. While our bodies were more comfortable, our heat loving plants were slower to ripen and thrive. Most folks aren’t complaining and neither are we, but we are just a bit surprised. Even the Japanese Beetles, a scourge in these parts in recent years, haven’t been as bad, (in my opinion not b/c of the cool temps this year but b/c the ravaging heat last year kept their reproductive cycle to a minimum) although I caught them eating voraciously in my blueberry patch this week! Look closely and you can see the nasty critters and the damage they do to the leaves!
So it was with much fanfare that the arrival of the first tomatoes of the season was a major highlight in our agricultural lives so far this year.
That is due in part to the fact that we had not eaten any fresh tomatoes since our supply ran out last fall. This dearth of our tomato consumption was rather self inflicted after being introduced last year to a significant book entitled, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit – by Barry Estabrook.
After reading this book, the thought of buying and eating any commercially grown tomatoes again was just too much of a negative concept. I will not go into details, but know that if you read this, you also might be hesitant to purchase any tomatoes in the future that are not locally grown in season. So buyer -or reader – beware! But, we were lucky enough to have filled our pantry and freezer with jars and jars and bags and bags of a variety of tomato products from the 2012 season from our own fields. We ate heartily all last summer using tomatoes at every meal. We had BLTs for breakfast, tomato salads at lunch, and used a myriad of tomatoes for dinners – roasted in pizzas, pastas, sauces and the like. We used tomatoes to make ketchup, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and pizza sauce. We canned them and froze them and then ate them all winter long.
This last week we opened our last jar of pasta sauce from the 2012 season and married it with some of our veggies from this current harvest for a delightful dinner. How pathetic is it to picture the last, emptied jar!?!
But the mild, rainy weather this season has us off to a slow start for our tomatoes which means they are therefore all the more dear to us! We are ready for some tomato growing temps!
After a winter of enjoying our fresh tomato and pasta sauces, I started to experiment again with making my own pasta. As a child, I watched my mother make her own noodles which she did by hand so I emulated that process recently and think I found some satisfaction in this. I used a recipe book from my library, Beard on Pasta, by no other than James Beard and I mixed up a simple pasta dough for a family dinner. I then rolled it and cut it by hand even tho I have been in possession of a Marcato Atlas 150 for the last 25 years!
Here are my noodles drying a bit while waiting to be boiled up!
I do think I’ll pull out my hand cranked Marcato Atlas in the winter months to come when opening some sauce.
I have since purchased a pasta drying rack so that I can hang the fresh pasta to dry. Before I had this, I improvised by hanging noodles on wooden spoons suspended between glass pitchers. I know I took a pic of this balancing act but have not been able to find it to post here.
Not to focus too much on the starch area, but in contrast to last year’s harvest, we have begun to enjoy the potato harvest already.
As reported earlier, we planted Yukon Gold and Pontiac Red potato starts this year and have enjoyed just a few of the Yukons so far. Dave likes to cook a few for a real man’s breakfast which he serves with a touch of Pickapeppa alongside toast with strawberry jam. Go figure!
You saw the tag line for the Seven Oaks Farm Granola, so I’m sure you are curious about that. I’ve been making my home made granola for years. I guess you could say that people started to get attached to it since I’ve been giving it as a gift for the last 30 plus years and it is pretty tasty. In addition to stirring up some granola, I often send along some of my homemade mustard. Not everyone thinks to make mustard, but it is relatively easy and it just makes a perfect pairing with some bread, cheese and turkey. Here are jars of the granola and mustard, waiting to be sent off.
I can’t help but end the day with the view of the thriving petunia pots on the terrace, framing the allee! As the sun goes down on another day at the farm, they seem to say, Adieu! And so do I.
Living in CO, I learned not to mess with “fresh tomatoes” years ago. We just don’t have hot enough nights for that big juicy ones. In a pinch we can cook with Roma variety and get very good results, but I’m sure the way they are produced and shipped is less than responsible.