...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Cleaning and Gleaning

With my husband's motivation, we successfully tackled the majority of our fall yard cleanup last weekend.  The weather was gorgeous--warmer than I thought as we peeled layers with each passing hour of vigorous outdoor activity.  While B took care of the raking and sweeping, I attacked the vegetable garden and gleaned what I could from the tomato plants and greens that are still thriving.  I have yet to weigh the tomatoes, but I collected a 5-gallon bucket (and then some) full of green ones that I plan to cook down into my favorite sauce.

Green Tomato Sauce
Makes 4 servings

Since I always make this at the end of the growing season when I'm in "use it or lose it" mode, the recipe is subject to being greatly expanded.  It's versatile enough to be a pasta or pizza sauce as well as a soup (see below.)

1 lb. green tomatoes
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ t. hot red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and cook down until the tomatoes are soft. Transfer to a blender and blender until smooth. This will be a very smooth, silky sauce that is good over pasta, in lasagna, or turned into a soup. It freezes well.

Curried Green Tomato Soup
Makes 4-6 servings

2 T. grapeseed oil or other high-heat cooking oil
2 large carrots, peeled and medium diced
½ yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 qt. green tomato sauce (see recipe above)
1-2 c. vegetable stock, depending on desired thickness
1 T. red curry paste, diluted in 1 T. water
salt and pepper to taste
Whole milk yogurt for garnish

Heat oil in a small hot stockpot. Sauté carrots, onions, and celery until slightly soft, about 5 min. Add green tomato sauce and vegetable stock and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 10 min. Puree in a blender or food processor. Add additional stock if desired. Add the curry paste and additional seasoning as needed. Serve with yogurt garnish.

I also pulled all of my large (read: spicy) arugula (for pesto), more baby hakurei turnips (for pickling), and even my brocoli stalks and remaining leaves.  I used the latter a la Tamar Adler and cooked them in a large pot of highly salted water.  Since some of the stalks were truly woody, I then did my best to scoop/cut out the softened core and compost the remains.  With these broccoli bits, of which there were a lot, I made a pesto from a loose recipe I created.

Broccoli Pesto

Broccoli leaves and stems, cooked until tender
Lemon zest or preserved lemons
Garlic cloves
Toasted almonds or pinenuts
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a a food processor and pulse until well chopped.  Drizzle olive oil down the feed tube and process until combined.  Enjoy immediately, refrigerate with an additional layer of olive on top, or freeze is small portions to eat throughout the winter.  

I used this pesto as a spread for some quesadillas along with mashed pinto beans, sauteed ancho peppers from our garden, frozen local corn, and Muenster cheese (or whatever cheese you like).  With gluten-free brown rice tortillas they were darn good.

I've gotten more guts lately for D.I.Y. projects including a recent haircut for our daughter.  Since school started she's wanted nothing to do with any clips, pigtails, headbands, or anything else we've tried to keep the scraggly hair out of her face.  I've always loved this page boy/wedge/pixie cut, but didn't dare cut her locks until now when I took the aforementioned as a sign.  When I was in junior high, my mom and I had a short-lived though successful dog grooming business.  I crowdsourced a bit to see how many people thought that qualified me to chop off my kid's hair.  Although the clippers and a buzz to poochie's back are probably much less detailed than this sculpted cut, I think I did okay (though we do have an appointment tomorrow for my hairdresser to "clean up" the back a tiny bit.)  The main thing is that V loves it.  And so do mom and dad!

The perfect chair for the occasion
Not bad, though this photo does a little justice
to the choppity chopped parts on the bottom
We're ramping up for Halloween of course so we took V to the Pumpkin Pavilion at one of our neighborhood parks on Friday night.  The beauty of these masses of glowing pumpkins never ceases to amaze me.
Community efforts
Creative folks we have in this neighborhood
Just do it!
Otherwise, things are quieting down on the homestead.  We are feeling a definite shift into the colder months.  I've spent a good amount of time in the last few days quietly pondering, listening, and discussing certain life issues.  Heading out this morning for coffee with a friend with whom I haven't spent enough time lately.  Hoping to continue the dialogue and work through my thoughts of how to make this world a better place, even if it starts with small, quiet steps.

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