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Tomato List 2012

I have to say it took me days (DAYS) to come up with my final list of heirloom varieties to grow for the year. So without further adieu, here are the 35+ varieties you'll find at my farmers market booth this season:

(ones with an asterisk* are varieties that Ive never grown before)

  ...and an heirloom that Danos Aunt Rosemary gave me seeds for a couple
of years ago, a nice 4-6oz red salad tomato


(vintage wine- one of my all time faves!)

I can almost taste them already - hurry up summer!!


Kumquat Marmalade

I think I have more citrus in my house than any normal person.
But isn't it beauteous??


Meyer Lemons, 'regular' lemons, Blood Oranges, Limes, Navel Oranges,
Clementines and Kumquats


Considering we havent had much of a winter up here surprisingly enough I can still find a way to complain.  I just want it to be sunny, green and nice outside all the time I guess.  Today we have 10" of snow in the forecast.  Goodie.

So what is the next best thing to sunshine for a blizzard-y grey February day??  Lemons. Oranges. Citrus in general. Its perfume can lift your mood almost instantly... and so I delved into making four kinds of marmalade all in two days.  (Maybe I need to up my vitamin intake.)  Nonetheless, I now have more than four dozen little jars of 'sunshine' in various flavors. This one is my favorite and I might  just hoard every last jar for myself  just have to make another batch.  I thought I'd share.



Kumquats aren't something you see everyday. Especially this far north.  I was going to the local grocery store with high hopes of finding lots of fresh ginger to make ginger spread.  I immediately noticed pints of kumquats (for some outrageous price) and on impulse decided to buy one- just as the produce gal was coming out to put them on sale.  She saw them in my cart and stopped me to put $1.49 stickers on them-  so I grabbed two more packages.  Score!

 I used three pint packages of kumquats and it was just perfect.  I also put the zest and juice of one navel orange in as well, to make about four cups of fruit and juice.


Prepare canner, jars and lids etc.
 (you'll need about a dozen 4oz. jars for this batch)

  Here is a link to basic canning information.

And this is a list of everything I use when I can:
-a good rubber jar lifter
-magnetic jar lid lifter
-stainless steel stock pot
-rack to fit the bottom (or use extra jar bands)
 -another small pot to warm lids 
-extra pair of tongs
-soup ladle
-candy thermometer
-damp paper towel
-a cotton towel to lay on work surface


3 pints of kumquats (about a pound and a half)
1 large navel orange
2 cups white sugar
 2 cups water
1 cup honey
6-7 star anise

Pick through fruit and toss any squishy 'quats.  Soak in warm water with a smidge of dish soap for a few minutes.  Wash and rinse really well a couple of times.  Cut stem end off and slice as thin as possible, plucking out and reserving any seeds you find (as they will be our little pectin workhorses).  Add sliced fruit to a big 6 quart or larger stock pot.
Zest and juice one orange, adding to pot with sugar and water.

 Wrap all seeds and star anise in a doubled-over peice of cheesecloth, tied with twine. Toss in pot.
 Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring once in a while (turning heat down if it starts sticking to the bottom) until thickened. Add honey, watch carefully towards the end and bring temp up to 220F degrees (gel stage).  Squeeze out and remove seed/anise package and ladle hot marmalade into prepared jars.  Wipe rims well with a damp paper towel, seal with lid and band and place in prepared large stock pot.  Boil in water bath for ten minutes.  Let sit 5 minutes, remove from canner and let cool completely until set.




(kumquat marmalade and blood orange marmalade, and the blizzard)


Rosemary Crackers

I seriously ate a whole box in one day  really like the
Trader Joes Raisin-Rosemary
crisps, I had to try and make my own version...  :)
When we were in Milwaukee for Panic last month, we stayed a night with Danos cousin and her husband- Erin had made her own version of these type of crackers that were *so* good- she had just ripped the ingredient label off of the box and went to town! We snacked on them with aged goat gouda (my personal fave is Midnight Moon ) which I could eat with just about anything, but is especially good with these!

Its kind of like biscotti- bake it in 'loaves' then slice and bake again. Very easy but takes a little bit of time, however you could do break it into two steps- I baked the loaves and found that freezing them before slicing helps a lot- just leave the loaves in the freezer then pull out and slice off as many as you want to bake off whenever you want!

The original label off the box says:
low fat buttermilk, wheat flour, cane sugar, 
sunflower seeds, raisins, flax seed, millet, 
baking soda, sea salt, rosemary and black pepper

So I came up with:
1c. AP flour
1c. AP wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2c. buttermilk
1/4c. brown sugar
1/4c. honey
1c. raisins- I used craisins!
(plumped in hot water and drained)
1/2c. unsalted sunflower seeds
(or pecans would be good!)
1/2c. flax seeds
1/4c. millet
2T. chopped fresh rosemary
1T. black pepper

Oven to 350 degrees. Prep 2 bread pans with parchment paper and grease. Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt. Add buttermilk, sugar and honey and combine. Then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pans and bake, rotating once, for about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before wrapping and freezing.
When ready to make the crackers, remove loaf from freezer just before slicing- dont let it thaw out- unwrap and slice as thin as possible (without crumbling) with a serrated knife
Lay out on a parchment lined sheet pan, close together and bake for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees, til dried out and crispy (you dont want them to brown!) Let cool and thats it! Store in an airtight container for a couple weeks (if they even last that long!)



BING! cherry jam's Bing Cherry season!!!
----------- advice before embarking on prepping a lot of cherries for a recipe is to invest in a cherry pitter- theyre only about $12 and will save you boatloads of precious time...
i love love love the OXO cherry pitter! i dont have the special williams sonoma red one, but it works just the same!

I've got about 10 lbs in my fridge... today will be JAM day!

This recipe is so incredibly easy peasy...

You literally just put everything (plus i added chopped crystallized ginger) in a big heavy bottomed pot and boil it until you can't stir it down, add the pectin and let it boil 1 minute more. Skim foam of the top and put it in jars! Viola!



Almond-Butter Cookies...

Rainy Days make for lots of Baking...

This is my fave peanut butter cookie recipe, but I had a huge jar of almond butter- and I wanted to try ALMOND butter cookies! So here goes...


 I just threw everything in my Kitchenaid- makes quick work of dough!
Preheat oven to 350
You'll need:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. almond butter (or peanut butter, or whatever kind of nut butter you like!)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 c. AP flour

1/2-2/3 c white sugar in a bowl, for rolling 
...and a fork
Beat butter, sugar and salt together, scrape vanilla seeds in and vanilla extract. Add nut butter and eggs- combine thoroughly. Add baking soda and flour- cover mixer with a towel to avoid a 'cloud' of flour...


 Using a cookie scoop, and drop balls into bowl with white sugar- toss to coat and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Use a fork to imprint, not pressing too hard.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, checking and rotating halfway through... Let cool a couple minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely...

btw ...I made about 70  2" cookies using a 18/8 scoop


Playing with my new cookbook...

I made THE best rice casserole last night for dinner- based off of Heidi Swansons recipe from her new book, Super Natural Every Day (pg155)... My new favorite book btw if you couldnt tell...

Actually, what this reminded me of is Gma Nina's beef stroganoff, served on rice... Im always trying to make a veggie version, and using tvp 'crumbles' doesnt cut it. This has all the hearty-ness, but no greasy meat! 

You can find Heidi's original recipe on her *lovely blog*  HERE.

 ~This is my rendition~ 

You'll need 3 cups of cooked rice- I used a multi-grain blend with about 6 kinds of rice- a mix of brown and wild rice would work well too. Cook according to package and set aside 3 cups for this recipe. (Then I cool and freeze any leftover rice in ziplocs to use for quick fried rice or whatever...)
Preheat oven to 350, lightly grease a medium-sized casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix together: 
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese- I used large curd
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T. dijon mustard
pinch of salt & pepper
1 T. white truffle oil
1T. dried tarragon
1/2 cup grated parmesean

Saute in 1 T olive oil: 
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
8 oz. mushrooms
(I used baby bellas, Heidi calls for cremini)

Add 3 cups of cooked rice to pan and combine. Pour altogether into bowl of cottage cheese mixture and mix well. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and cover with foil- Bake for 30-40 minutes, remove foil and bake for 20 minutes more, until lighly browned. Serve immediately. YUM.




Seed Starting- 2011 what seeds are YOU starting this year??? My order from Pinetree Seeds-  just showed up- Im late on starting everything because we were in Hawaii during the week Id start planting- oh darn ;)

...better late than never I guess


Tomato Season 2010

Here's some pics of my motherload tomato harvest from this year...

 Bowls and Bowls and Bowls FULL!!!

 ...such an array of colors...

 ...and a handful of cherry peppers too (bottom right corner)

 mostly 'slicers'...

Im already anxious for next season!! ...How many months of winter do I have to wait??? hmm...


seed starting... phase 1- digging everything out!

...for in the depths of winter, i need to invest in something like this:
...i've smelled it before- it really smells like a big fat juicy tomato on the vine... YUMMM!
it would be especially helpful when im getting bombarded by colorful seed catalogs- OH MY!

but now to figure out what ive got left over from last year...


& i did save some tomato seeds last fall- im excited to see how they fare!
...this year, SO FAR (and i havent even been to the greenhouses yet!) it looks like ill be growing:
-absolutely my favorite tomato of the moment; heavy producer with gorgeous markings, uniform size- great slicer and perfect signature flavor...some weighing upwards of a pound!
-nice yellow color with great flavor. 8-10 oz fruits
-super slicer, awesome tomato flavor. another fav... also upwards of a pound
-deep dark crimson red fruits are a bit larger than cherry-size.
-these are stunning- white, with good flavor. very pretty sliced amongst other varieties and colors
-kind of an orange color, very prolific and a sturdy plant. smaller, 4-6 oz fruits
-super funky markings of all colors. maybe doesnt taste quite as awesome as it looks, but im willing to try it again, pending a better growing season.
-roma, paste variety- very hardy. good for sauces
love the shape, and theyre always a dependable producer. 
these have gorgeous ruffle-y 'shoulders'. beautiful italian heirloom.
-funky brownish cherry tomato with perfect flavor. they are extremely prolific, growing in big clusters.
very big, upwards of 2 pounds! great slicer with great flavor.
-smaller, 4-6oz fruits remain green and develop darker green 'stripes'. must 'feel' for ripeness. great addition to salads with other varieties
i love this one. deep red-purple color and great flavor. not super heavy bearing, but ill give it a third season
roma-style paste tomato, yellow in color. very prolific grower. good for sauces.

I also have about 7 varieties that i saved from last year that im not too sure about what the variety is- itll be a surprise! im also swapping seeds this year with about 4 people, so ill just hafta see what comes up!!  ;) 

i LOVE these seed resources:
they have such great variety and also you can get most everything in bulk!
ive ordered from them more than once and theyre very consistent.

also, baker creek ROCKS:
i aspire to be them someday- it all started when he was young and it has blossomed into a hugely successful heirloom seed movement. amazing selection!

and of course good ol'

i love recycling so i use seed plug flats leftover from greenhouses spring plant shipments- theyre great in more ways than one and plus, i can usually get 'em for free!! yay! 

to fill- just use a fine germination mix, then add about 1/3 as much of plain dirt. dont use miracle grow or any of that garbage dirt in a bag. its got a lot of perlite (which isnt bad, its like volcanic rock or something-not styrofoam) but also weird fertilizers and god knows what else, so try and buy a good organic variety.

mix medium and dirt together and wet down, not sopping wet- you shouldnt be able to wring any water out when you squeeze it. plus its just easier to wet it down first, than to to try and moisten dry medium when its in the plug trays.
SO then, ready to plant!
to be continued... ;)