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I've moved!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Late Tomatoes

Unlike the peppers, the tomatoes have not been so happy. They are on the same soaker hose section and have the same mulch, but just never go enough moisture to keep up production or fruit size. Maybe with the rain last weekend and what is predicted to come our way as Gustav heads north, there will be some late fall fruit to make up for the very poor summer results. The only fruit close to a normal size are the paste tomatoes - others are roughly 1/4 normal size and the heirlooms simply refused to set more than one or two fruit each. It's been enough to keep up in fresh tomatoes for eating and cooking this summer, but no new ones went to the freezer or were canned this year. Luckily, last year was a bountiful one and there are still whole tomatoes frozen and many cans of sauce and "stock" left to tide us over during the winter.

We gave up buying tomatoes at the store several years ago (when even "garden/vine ripened" tomatoes there meant hothouse, mealy, under ripe and tasteless. Instead, in winter we eat was we put away the previous year and look forward to that first fruit of summer. The same decision on asparagus was made about the same time - ours comes in the size of man's thumb, reaching 18" for harvesting and bears for about 6 weeks; it would probably be longer, but by then we are tired of asparagus and just let it leaf out and gain strength for the next year. No more imported, pencil thin asparagus that is so-so in flavor and often tough and stringy even 6 inches from the tip. Instead, we have great big fat spears grilled, steamed, broiled and stir fried nearly every day until we can't stand it any more. None of it goes into the freezer or is canned (ugh!); any tougher trimmings are instead dried and saved until winter, when they are powdered, reconstituted in chicken stock and cooked into cream of asparagus soup. Nothing else is needed, other than a bit of salt, pepper and perhaps a dash of sour cream.

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