Tomatoes season is now: freeze

I think almost of people loves tomatoes. But not all the people knows the season of tomatoes is quite short, around 6-8 weeks per year. Thanks to the evolution and industry we can find tomatoes all the year, produced in glasshouses in Holland or Spain or South Africa, but there is a lot of pollution and plastic used because of the production and transport.

As I propose myself to eat more what is specific in season and more local, I try to eat maximum tomatoes now and to preserve for several weeks of winter.

In fact, for Belgium, this summer was extraordinary hot and tomatoes were in blossom. Not happening often – even in my garden I produced a lot –and still a lot of small green one. So why not to use this chance?

 

Last weekend I bought tomatoes from a local producer (http://www.hainaut-terredegouts.be/producteur/ferme-les-cinq-epines/ ) – and I think it is their neighbour that is producing and 5 epines sells 🙂 . With 3 euro/kg I bought great tomatoes so next weekend I plan to buy again, a bigger quantity, to prepare for winter.

What I will do?

 

2
Tomatoes sauce – one cook and eat 10 times -isn’t that great for lazy people like me?

Well, I buy tomatoes, of course. Usually I negotiate the price for big quantities but not with the producers 🙂 . I will go Saturday at the Clemenceau market directly to Sebastien, the farmer from 5 epignes (the place is somewhere at the end, behind the meat covered place) and  I will choose the well red tomatoes, even there are a little broken – this is because of too much rain or too much gravity 🙂 – just to be well mature. Wash, put in boiling water for 2 min to easy peel  and then cut in several pieces and boil for 30-40 min. I add flavours, of course: onion and garlic, thyme and basil (from my balcony). Quantities: for 5 kg of tomatoes, half of kg of onions, several garlic cloves, 1 table spoon of thyme, a hand of basil. No salt – I want to freeze it. I let to stay for 2-3 hours then to split in plastic ice cream boxes (saved) and freeze it – 10 bags. In November-> January will be a perfect fast pasta sauce for 10 weeks.
Time consuming? Yep. Shopping time, 1 hour to peel and cut tomatoes in pieces and boil. In same time is boiling I clean the onions and garlic – and cut in several pieces and add with the tomatoes. After 15-20 min of boiling together with the vertical mixer I will mix well the tomatoes and all the other ingredients and let to boil more several minutes. Put in boxes and freeze. Yep, 1 hour in the kitchen, less than 20 euro spend but I will eat 10 times a quality sauce without anymore effort.

Advertisements

Freeze Basil for Make Pesto Starters

I know, fresh basil is available for purchase year-round, but when you’re growing your own you want to preserve that unique, home-grown flavour perfectly. And why not, is for free! is there, just to know what and when to do it, 5 min effort.
We love pasta. We love pasta with Pesto. So I did it.

Basil cubes

 

– The most efficient way to freeze basil is by making basil cubes. I can add a green “bomb” in a soup, an last-minute aromatic punch. Simply chop basil in a food processor or with a knife and add enough oil or water to coat the leaves. You’re looking for the consistency of a thick paste. I am arriving for a three-to-one ratio of basil to oil. Spoon the herbal mixture into ice cube trays, freeze for one night, and then I transfer to a fabric freezer bag.
Pesto starters: to make pesto starters, the process is quite similar to making basil cubes. I combine equal parts chopped basil and parsley with enough olive oil to form a paste. No garlic because my husband hates but pine nuts are great. Freeze on cube sizes. Mix with cheese (parmigiana) after little defrost. I hope to find a parmigiana not too salty and to freeze within…

Harvesting cucumbers.

This should be simple – no mystery what is the cucumber and need to harvest.
But when I lost the seed package where is mention the dimension, I am admiring and meditating daily what is the story of my cucumbers?

If I wait too long, the skins get thicker and the seed cavities enlarge at the expense of the flesh of the cucumber. what is too mature?before they turn yellow/lighter!!. The green cucumber “yellow” -ed is more bitter, and have thicker peels.

So, when? : while the skins are tender. When is green. 8-10 days the fruit is visible. And big but not too big- to define.

Cucumber stems are tough so I harvest by cutting (scissor), not pulling from the vines, to avoid damaging the vines.

 

Pictures will come this evening 🙂

Reuse the dried bread

 
This summer is hot in Brussels, so hot that I started to eat less.
Because of my allergies, I reduced (almost completely cut) the consumption of of bread, but my husband still continues buying 1-2 breads weekly. So we have a lot of dried bread and I don’t want to throw it away.
usually I buy a bread and split in 3 fabric bags and freeze, but now the freezer is full of icecream, meat from the farm, and cheap cherry => no more room for the dried bread.

I asked my best friend google what to do with.
He answered with same friendship as usual and gave me plenty of ideas, and I saved here, to inspire me:

1. Freeze. Done. 2-3 hours before lunchtime to take it out.
2. in small pieces the dried bread is great in tomatoes soup. But how much tomatoes soup I could eat ??
3. Dry Bread Crumbs (add in a blender). To use for snitzel or meatballs. But I don’t cook any of these, no more frying for me for years.
4. croûtons à l’ail et au persil. Cut in small pieces. Add some garlic (very well cut) of for delicate princesses as I have in my family I mixed with dried rosemary/basilicum harvested from my balcony, 1-2 spoons of oliv oil (is great to have a Greek guy in the office), mix all for 1-2 min. and add in the hot oven for several minutes. I use these for soups, or in salads. Done. And redone. For the future I will try with paprika instead of flavours.
5. with milk and egg and fried. I mention here maybe will inspire even I am not cooking this: is it fried and not healthy (I am going old …).
6. Gâteau au chocolat. I have no quantities but I mixed with milk, a little sugar, cocoa and eggs. Add in the oven for 35-40 min in around 170grades.
7. Add some water (4-5 spoons and add in the oven for several minutes. I tried in a pan with a lid, and 2 min. on the fire it is enough.
8. poudding du pain (pain au chien). French recipe, check the quantities https://spatulesetcrochets.blogspot.com/2015/02/pudding-au-pain-ou-chpain-dchien.html. Or this https://cuisine.journaldesfemmes.fr/recette/310717-pudding-aux-restes-de-pain -are si filmuletz. Not tested yet but perfect for a brunch or a lazy weekend.
9. feed the animals.  but do it in small quantities, is as bad for animals/birds as a macdonalt for humans.
10. do a fromage fondue and use the dried bread.
11. gateau alsacien: https://www.madeinalsace.com/mendiant_aux_po/
12. porridge (mix half of dry bread with a half of the quantity of dried oat ) – nice and easy… 😀 – to do.
13. pizza dough. It is summer, I want a faster pizza with less energy conspution /less heat . I need to keep in the oven only for 10 min to have a nice crust of cheese. Perfect for Friday evening, to clean the fridge 🙂
14. pudding chocolat – mix dried breads with eggs, milk, cocoa an cu oua, lapte, cacao to have a soft almost liquid dough. Cook 40min.
15. pudding salé : 500 ml hot milk, (bones/vegetable stock is great, but remember from the begining of the article I have no more room in the freezer…), add the bread for 15min in the hot water (200gr bread). Add in a hot pan some vegetables ( leek, carrots, for 2-3 min) to soft. Mix the weat bread with under cooked vegetables, eggs, cheese, put in the oven for 30min medium-small fire, in a shape as pizza.
16. Pain de jambon: jambon, kaizer , several slices of dried bread put in milk, 2 eggs, garlic and noix de muscade. In the oven.
17. La Panzanella toscana. It is a kind of salad with dried bread.

More french recipes are here, I am too lazy to read all but let’s keep for the future
https://www.cooking-chef.fr/espace-recettes/plats-complets/soupe-au-fromage-aveyronnaise
https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recherche.aspx?aqt=gateau-de-pain
https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_le-pudding-de-quand-j-etais-p-tite_31801.aspx
https://petite-cuilliere-et-charentaise.blogspot.com/search/label/Pain%20rassis

P.S. the bread shop close to my house is selling dried bread with a half of the price, occasionally. Just think about..

Meditation in the garden

 

 

I am gardening for my forth year on this garden and still have a lot of issues with the planning.
At least this year I am doing better the succession planting, that allows me to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, I can harvest 2 crops from a single area. For example my fast-maturing potatoes are ready to
harvest, and i will plant green beans instead.

Just to pay attention to:

-plan properly. I am not able to plan it…but I want to replace any potatoes that we will eat with green beans, as soon as I take out the potatoes 😀
-Use transplants. Add the seeds in my balcony and when move in the garden when is already a month old, and matures that much faster than a seed sown directly in the garden and survive to snails (I hope)
-Choose fast-maturing varieties. Complicated. Lettuces are eaten by snails so not happy with. Grean beans and cucumbers are great, let’s hope will survive
-add compost every time when I replant. This is a great decision, I see the plants are growing faster
-cover soil with mulches to keep warm for plants.

Vegan kimchi: lazy and cheap fermentation for all

 

kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation of vegetables, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill cucumber/tomatoes pickles. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty solution that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the great one) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavor. (If you want to learn more about fermentation, I recommend the site nicrunicuit.fr)

The traditional coreean recipe of kimchi is richer than mine. But I did it my style: easy and fast and most important is cheap.
It means that you and your family can make kimchi your own, as me. Rely on your own sense of smell and taste and you’ll end up with a fine batch.
So, what I did:

-take a big cabbage (or 2 smaller), any cabbage. I did first with Asian cabbage but the regular cabbages are great too. For 2 big jars I need around 1,2 -> 1, 5kg cabbage
-4-5 greens onion (scallions) or more, and some garlic. Not too much garlic 🙂 so I use only 3-5 cloves.
-2 asian radishes. But this springtime I used some small red one and during the winter 2 small red betroots and that was the best version!!
-ginger root, the dimension of my 2 fingers, peeled and minced.
-hot pepper powder. I didn’t have so I added some red hot peppers, cut very small, and that’s it. First I used 2 red peppers, was great, next time I exaggerated with 10 red peppers – was great but I ate slower as usual 😀 , so probably I will use only 4-5 🙂
-salt for pickles, around 4-5 spoons. Sea salt is great, not one with chemicals (free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation)). Kusher salt is best. The salt is the key ingredient. I could add more, after testing the cabbage.
-an apple (to replace the usual sugar recommended)
-is not mandatory but it is great to add 2-3 large carrots peeled, thinly julienned, specially where is not red beetroot (for colour).
I cut the cabbage (robot rules), add salt and toss ans squise with the hands 2-3 minutes. Because of the pression and of the salt some water is produce. Let to stay for several hours under the pression of a plate.
Cut the onions, radishes (or red beetroots), apple on the robot too. Add on top of the cabbage.
Mince the garlic with hot peppers and ginger, on robot, until are almost like a paste. Add on top of all and mix.

Put on clean jars (reused, of course 🙂 ) and press with the hand until there is not too much air. Add the little water that cabbage let it away because of the salt and pressure. If there is not enough water, add some distilled (not with chlorinated water because can inhibit fermentation)
From this amount of ingredients I produce 2 jars of 1l and still have a little extra, that I ate as a spicy salad 🙂

Keep several days in a warm place (kitchen) – on the winter I keep for 5 days, now is around 23-25degrees so I keep only for 3 days, until start to see the fermentations: small bubbles inside the jar, then put the jars in the fridge – or eat. Because I use cabbage cut small on the kitchen robot, the fermentation is going faster.
Some keep for 6 months, but not me, I prefer to do another another bunch next month. Every time there is another proportion, another flavour so I love it.

 

Total time spend: around 15min to cut all, 5 min to the final mix, to fill the jars and close it, and I have 2 big jars for several weeks.
Costs:  less than 3 euro, because scallions and  and ginger are from my garden. kimchi

How to choose a container to plant on the terrace.

How to choose a container for gardening

 

Well, depends of what do you want to plant. Read at first what are recommendations for any of the plants: spinach or strawberries needs only 20 cm deep soil, ginger with 10cm soil can manage, but carrots or horseradish need deep soil.
For mainly plants: flowers, beans, spinach, condiments etc. I found the best on: wood boxes. These I have it for free from Colruyt, in the wine section. I just ask the employees if they give for free, some are very friendly and generous to clean the stock of garbage 🙂 some not.
The wood boxes are not perfect and have lot of holes/spaces so I covered the bottom of the box with a plastic to not loose completely the water and the soil. Only the bottom,ok?
But you can use any containers: ceramics, plastic, ex food recipients (there are 5l boxes for seeds or for olives/pickles ), plastic bags or fabric bags, just add some holes to . if there are not, to let the bottom to breath and lose extra water.

So, I have free containers. Free soil (compost bin on my balcony). For who has not, there are public compost bins, try to see if there are available to “harvest”.
Or you can buy. Plants in containers need a well-drained soil rich in organic matters. Garden soil should be avoided because is likely to contain weeds. As fertiliser I use the water diluted from compost bin.

What did you say about free seeds? not complicated: I use the seeds from germinating sets, or any organic beans. Or share with friends.
Easiest is to buy small plants.

Ok, what plants? Well, depends of the weather, sun exposure, space, etc. Small beans are better for balconies than high beans. zero sun but a lot of light? green leaves are perfect: spinach, cabbages, mint, rosemary, salads, rucolla etc you see, there are many possibilities.
The simple “cut-and-come-again” type of harvesting for salad mix/rucolla/spinach in containers provides a longer harvest season. Use mixed seeds and sow directly into a container. As the leaves grow, cut individual leaves for use. The plant will continue to grow and produce leaves even after several cuttings. Seed suppliers now provide ranges of mixed salad leaf seed for this purpose.