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Jun 5, 2008 02:16 PM

The GIY Thread - "Grew It Myself" Great Meals....

Oh, the joys of sitting down to meal and seeing your "sweat equity" presented as gorgeous food....

A recent dinner at our place:
GIY roasted rack of lamb with the first chard from the garden with a balsamic reduction (epicurius recipe), a tender salad with some baby lettuce and snow peas from the garden, and a refreshing tomato aspic from tomato juice I put up last fall (canned over 60 quarts of whole tomatos and juice last year when it was 100 degrees out, but it was like red gold over the winter and spring!). Dessert - raspberry sherbet from berries picked and in the ice cream freezer within 15 minutes...

We raise our own beef, lamb and have a flock of laying hens, a big garden, raspberries and strawberries, muscat grapes and a dozen fruit trees that are finally starting to produce, plus some olive trees.

Tell me what you're growing....especially which varieties of tomatoes and peppers. I got my grubby hands on some piquillo pepper plants this year, can't wait to see how they are!

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    1. We only have a small garden, and must be in a different zone than you all, because the summer plants (squash, peppers, cukes, etc.) are just transplanted. We have snow peas, chard, and are finishing up the rhubarb, asparagus, radishes, spinach, arugula, scallions. The coyotes have been a boon this year, as we have no trouble with grazing rabbits or deer thus far. (We'll see if that's still the case once tomatoes come on.) We had fourteen volunteer tomato plants come up on their own where the sungolds overflowed in abundance last summer. I'm thinking they're sungolds anyway...

      My favorite GIY dish so far this spring was a scallion and chive pancake with leftover red snapper, Korean style. Tasty with vinegar shoyu sauce to dip. Also enjoyed asparagus roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper--simplest is often best.

      1. Our gardens are still in the sprout/transplant stage (peas are about 4" high). But our favorite from this past winter was a caribou roast (my husband hunted and we butchered) with a port and dried cherry sauce (cherries foraged from a neighbor's tree who considers them a nuisance), oven roasted grape tomatoes (grown in our garden last summer, roasted with garlic and herbs and preserved in olive oil) on mesclun ( had to buy that in winter), scalloped potatoes (from our garden), and apple pie with cheddar cheese crust (my home canned pie filling and local cheese). We are blessed with neighbors that have mature fruit trees in their yards and want nothing to do with them.

        11 Replies
        1. re: morwen

          I've always wanted to make apple pie with cheddar cheese in the crust, but it sounds a bit too exotic for the crowd I feed (I don't know why; apples and cheddar make total sense to me). How much cheese do you usually add, and what type of cheddar - something young and mild, or more sharp? thanks.

          1. re: Gooseberry

            I use the sharpest NY cheddar I can find, grate it on the large holes of a box grater, and put probably two large handfuls (sorry, I've never measured it) of the loose stuff in the flour and toss it around. Then I proceed with the pastry recipe as normal. When it's baked the cheese flavor in the crust is cheesy but mellow considering how sharp the cheese is on it's own. My husband, who thinks a slice of cheddar melted over apple pie is weird and prefers the cheese he eats straight to be mild, adores it in the crust.

          2. re: morwen

            Morwen - How did you preserve the cherry toms in oil? I tried some last summer, and it made this violently fermenting mass - not sure what I did wrong, but there was no way I was going to eat them - I was surprised the chickens didn't die from it.... Please share the details!

            1. re: kmr

              while you are waiting for Morwen to respond...

              I put a couple jars of cherry tomatoes by this summer. While I haven't eaten them yet, they look totally fine in their jars. To be doubly sure they were as germ-free as possible, I roasted them with olive oil and salt, filled them into sterilized glass jars while still hot, and processed in a hot water bath for 10-15 min, as I do with big, halved roasted tomatoes. I also make sure there's a film of oil that covers the fruit in the jars, so they don't peek out and get exposed to the air in the top of the jar.

              Alternatively, if you're still worried they will go bad, keep the jars in the fridge. Which is easy if you've only got a couple jars. Nice and sweet. Although they can be very seedy.

              1. re: kmr

                What I did was very similar to Gooseberry's method. I cut the tomatoes in half and scooped out the seeds and liquid. Then I placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides, cut sides up. I sprinkled them with fresh minced basil, oregano, garlic, a little sea salt, and lots of fresh coarsely ground black pepper and drizzled them with olive oil. Then they went into the oven on the lowest temp (my oven's is 150 degrees F) with the door cracked open for several hours (like overnight) until they were very shriveled with most of the juices roasted out. Time varied on different batches depending on how juicy the tomatoes were. Sometimes it's taken as long as 18 hours. I taste them to see if the texture's right - a little chewy but not leathery. Then I pack them flat in heated glass jars (I run mine through the dishwasher). I use the smallest jelly canning jars. Leave a bit of space at the top of the jar (1/2" approx) then pour the juice from the roasting pan over them. Stick a chopstick in the jar to release any bubbles. You may have to do this a few times. Getting the air out is important to keep that ferment from starting. Then top with a layer of heated olive oil so everything is covered, wipe the rims and cap them. From here I put them straight in the fridge and they keep through winter and into the spring for me. I've never processed them in a water bath as Gooseberry has done but if you're going to store them at room temp it would definitely be necessary. I use the little jars because once you open them, even refrigerated they need to be used in a week. I generally use 1-2 jars at a time for whatever I'm making. The biggest problem I've encountered is the juice on the bottom of the pan is so tasty that if there's a loaf of bread around it's hard to reserve it for pouring into the jars! I do about a dozen or so of these jars and they don't take up a lot of space in my fridge because they stack nicely in a back corner.

                1. re: morwen

                  It's an interesting twist, oven-drying them so they are almost dried tomatoes in olive oil.

                  With the last batch, I actually blanched and skinned the little suckers - and became deranged from boredom with the amount of time it took to process them. Never again - or rather, again, but I'll get over my dislike of tomato skins and not bother peeling them all. The things we do....

                  1. re: Gooseberry

                    I just freeze roasted halved plum tomatoes (in very small bags, packed together in larger freezer bags). Much less work but I suppose different texture.

                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                      I do it this way too, using plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. They make a fantastic addition to soups and a great base for pasta sauce.

                      1. re: lisa13

                        I've oven dried cherry and regular tomatoes and sometimes used herb seasonings and balasmic vinegar in the process. Then I freeze them. Be sure you have oil, PAM or similar, even on non-stick surfaces. Otherwise, they stick like mad (I guess from the sugars).

                  2. re: morwen

                    Thanks Morwen & Gooseberry - I'll try this!

                    The method I tried used fresh cherry toms, not roasted, and they were packed in oil...from a french food preservation book "Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation" I obviously missed some vital step. I used to roast them until they were about half-dried, then freeze, but the texture wasn't as nice (flavor was great!). Your methods sound great.

                    1. re: kmr

                      ok, we cracked open (christened?) one of the precious bottles of cherry tomatoes tonight (pasta with onions, garlic, spinach, mini pork meatballs and cherry tomatoes. Good times). They were totally fine - appeared fine, tasted fine (not dead yet, three hours later!). I remembered roasting them in my head, but none of them were split/crushed, and as a result didn't taste that roasted (did taste like yummy fresh cherry tomatoes though!). I think this is because I roasted them whole and treated them gently. Next time I think I'll skip the peeling, halve them, then roast like Morwen suggests, to compare.

              2. Hello,

                Southern hemisphere here, so entering winter as opposed to summer. However, we did have homegrown tomatoes with supper! The black tomatoes (Paul Robeson & Black Prince), which were wimpy throughout the summer, perked up as soon as we hit fall, and started setting fruit like crazy (perhaps in illustration of their icy Russian heritage?). Thankfully they are in a pot, so can be dragged under the porch roof when weather threatens.

                I think with these last few precious fruits, simplicity is best - sliced, salted, moistened with my best olive oil, and left to sit a while before eating. The best part is the liquid left in the bottom of the bowl.

                The pea seedlings don't seem to know up from down, so it may be a while before we have any sauteed sugarsnaps....

                1. I'm just getting started with gardening. I have some tomatoes, Thai basil and parsley. I love the idea of eating something I grew myself. So far, I've only been able to enjoy the herbs. We've eaten tons of salad caprese lately with the basil. I also made a spaghetti sauce with both herbs with my cooking class (I teach middle school). I took awhile for the parsley to start thriving, but it finally looks happy.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: northside food

                    If you like the Thai basil, I recommend you also grow spearmint and Vietnamese coriander. Together, these three make a wonderful flavour base to any Asian cooking. I chop them up and put them with Asian soups, in cold Asian noodle salads, and best of all - along with some parsley, I make pesto with them, which is divine on cubes of seared salmon, other fish or steak.

                    They both grow well from cuttings (if you have a friend who grows them, cut some healthy branches, put in a glass vase with water, and wait a week or so for good sized roots to grow, then plant deep in a pot of soil) and as seedlings from the nursery.

                    1. re: Gooseberry

                      That's a great suggestion. I'll put those on my list for when I put in my next garden.