Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo Fridays: Tomato Harvest

Our kitchen has been taken over by tomatoes.  We pick them when they just start to blush to stay ahead of the birds and the stink bugs who also love tomatoes.  Then the tomatoes sit on the island in our kitchen until they ripen.  In the past 6 days we have harvested 154 slicing tomatoes.  Yikes!

Sorry about the lighting and the color.  I am not a very skilled photographer, but you get the idea.  It doesn't help that our kitchen countertops are a dark teal color - a very odd choice made by the original owners of the house.

Here is one of the Green Zebras.  It is beautiful and tastes delicious, too.  Ed made Insalata Caprese last weekend with four different tomato varieties and Green Zebra was our favorite.

I wish the plants made more fruit, but lower production is often the price we pay for growing heirlooms.  In many cases they just can't keep up with the hybrids.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy a fresh local tomato this weekend.  Have a great one!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo Fridays: Tomatillos

We are growing two varieties of tomatillo: Toma Verde and purple.  The purple variety is producing better than the Toma Verde, but the tomatillos aren't really turning purple.  Some of the husks have a purple tint on the outside, though, and a few of the smaller fruits have a couple dark blotches on them.

I am just happy they are growing at all.  Last year all the ones we grew from seed died and the emergency replacements we bought from Wabash Antique and Feed Store grew very well but didn't produce a whole lot, probably because we planted them too late.  From the whole summer, I only had enough for cooking a few times and there certainly were not enough to sell.  This year the production is much better.

One of the plants in late April

Today, a view down the row; tomatillos are the tall plants, low plants in foreground are ground cherries


Purple and green tomatillos on the plant

A basket of harvested fruit, ready for fresh salsa or enchilada sauce!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo Fridays: Eggplant

I have been enjoying the Gardens, Chickens, and Folk Music blog and like the idea of Toni's Peaceful Fridays posts, so I'm borrowing it.  I think my version will be 'Photo Fridays'; I will pick something in or around the garden to highlight each week.
This week my subject is eggplant.

We are growing a Taiwanese eggplant called Ping Tung from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I have great hopes for it.  The plants are not very tall but they are lush and have many flowers.  I think they are the prettiest plants in the garden right now.  You can judge for yourself:

A developing fruit.  Isn't the color gorgeous?

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Michael Pollan's Food Rules, Part I

I have had Michael Pollan's new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, sitting on my desk for a few weeks now. I read it cover to cover when I first bought it, and now refer to it from time to time. I am letting it sink in slowly. I have already noticed changes in the way I think about my food and the way I eat.

The book is short, just 139 pages, many of which either have only a short amount of text or a graphic. Yet it is packed with useful information. There are 64 guidelines, or 'rules'. They are so practical and make so much sense that I had a tendency to think "Well, of course, I knew that". But Pollan's gift is taking complex ideas and distilling them into short, meaningful phrases. Remember edible foodlike substances from In Defense of Food? When I first read that, I felt the light bulb switch on in my head. What a perfect description of everything that is wrong with the American food landscape, summed up in a simple, catchy phrase. It stuck with me. Every time I went to the supermarket or a restaurant, those words popped up as a warning flag in my head.

Pollan does that again in Food Rules, many times over.  Little of the information is new; we have heard most of this before. We all know that eating fresh vegetables is better for us than eating highly processed fast food.  I have read many excellent articles by and interviews with Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Walter Willett which included dietary recommendations based on the amazing long-running Nurses' Health Study.  As a long-time subscriber to Cooking Light magazine, I have observed the evolution of nutrition science as that publication has gracefully changed its course away from 'dietary-fat-is-the-enemy'.  But I was still confused, like Pollan at the beginning of his quest to answer the question "What should I eat?".  Food Rules answers the question in practical terms, with no numbers or calculations (calories, fat grams, percentages) in sight.  Nutrition science is translated into, and in some cases replaced by, common-sense concepts and guidelines.  No need to follow all 64 rules; taking one or two of them into consideration as you make your food choices can help you change how you eat.
Part I addresses the main question of what to eat, and gives the short answer: "Eat food".  The goal of the section is to help us distinguish real foods from those ubiquitous edible foodlike substances.  Some of my favorite rules are "If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't" and "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car".  The best one, in my opinion, is "Buy your snacks at the farmer's market"!  I have been putting that one into practice, first by learning to snack on our own vegetables.  I was quite surprised to find that raw green beans make a pretty decent snack.  Also, I've been buying some of the prepared foods available at our farmer's market.  Those foods are likely to be made by humans (Rule #17) and contain only ingredients a third-grader can pronounce (Rule #7).

I'll get to Part II and Part III in a future post.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Picture is Worth...

Here are a few photos which sum up the reality of the garden these days.

Wondering when the tomatoes will ripen,

Waiting for the garlic to dry,

Watering (again), and,

Wishing the squash would slow down!