Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It is all an Opportunity

Of course, we all know the adage, “when life gives you lemons..” that is exactly how I have felt the last few days. No, it is not that life has been particularly difficult of late I am managing to negotitate the highs and lows of being alive quite well. It is the garden that has been trying my patience and resolve. The okra has a new tennant, kudzu bugs, whose workings are not too harmful but annoying nevertheless. And, I am sure there is a chipmunk or field mouse by the daily signs of someone digging in the garden besides me. Though these are just the daily conversations to be found out in the yard.

With an impending rain storm that was to be accompanied by a lowering temperature I thought is was best to harvest the glut of chili peppers that were tinted from green to red to yellow before they became too water logged, which would compromise its heat potential. So, yet another quart of hot sauce is nestled against the back wall of the refrigerator. I also had to bite the bullet and give up on the tomatoes. We planted a total of nine tomato seedlings of different varities; one was lost early in the season to an undetermined disorder. The others seemed to flourish, growing tall and strong putting out copious quantities of flowers. Frustratingly, in August, when I expected too be over-run by these summer icons – nothing. I was lucky to get one to two a week, and of that fifty percentage of the time an insect had gotten there first. Working with an eye on the future next year I will plant them in a different spot, perhaps not as sunny and enrich the soil with compost and mature manure, and try again.

Then in mid-September, just as the heat had its edge taken off, a profusion of new flowers then fruit. I prayed; I hoped; I thought finally some tomato good fortunate. For a month I waited for the glow of ripening to show – a handful of cherry tomatoes ripened and two yellow lemons managed to come to completion. Now, I find myself with 3-pounds of underripe cherry tomatoes and close to 20-pounds a various green tomatoes. I got my tomato haul, just not the one I was expecting. All is not completely lost for there are plently of recipes utilizing green tomatoes. I indulged myself with fried green tomatoes for dinner, and I am considering a green tomato pie, which is a southern specialty that I have been curious about. I now have a 2-gallon jar in the refrigerator crammed with tomatoes pickling away and I stashed the most developed green ones in a brown paper bag to see if they might mature further. Those cherry tomatoes are simmering on the stove transforming into a chutney that’s going to be jarred becoming unexpected gift from the garden.

Green Cherry Tomato Chutney – yields 8 pints
2-tablespoons canola oil
1-large onion – thinly sliced
3-ounces fresh ginger – peeled and minced
2-ounces fresh turmeric – peeled and minced
1-teaspoon whole fenugreek
1-teaspoon cumin seed
2 to 3 dried red chilies
2-teaspoons kosher salt
4-ounces jaggery (or dark brown sugar)
1-cup golden raisins
3-pounds green cherry tomatoes
½-cup white distilled vinegar

Heat a 8-quart pan over a medium heat, and add the oil, onion, ginger and turmeric. Cook until the onions are golden brown then add in the fenugreek, cumin, red chilies and salt. Cook for a few minutes until they release their fragrance. 

Then mix in the jaggery, raisins, cherry tomatoes, vinegar and a ½-cup of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer, and cook, covered, for 1 to 2 hours. Stir the chutney occassionally in order not to let it sorch on the bottom.

Store the refrigerator, or can in sterlized canning jars for 15 minutes.

1 comment:

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