Tag Archive: Heirloom tomato

Heirloom Tomato Profile: Blondkopfchen Cherry

The Blondkopfchen Heirloom Cherry Tomato originated in Germany.  In German, the word “blondkopfchen” translates to “little blonde girl”.  My daughter was a little blond girl when we first began growing this tomato here at 1840 Farm.  In fact, she was the reason that I first ordered these heirloom seeds and planted them in our heirloom tomato garden.

The incredible taste and production of this heirloom was the reason we kept planting them each year.  Every year, our Blondkopfchen plants are the most prolific in the garden.  A single branch holds dozens of tiny orbs waiting to ripen in the sun.  I am always amazed at just how many tomatoes these plants can produce.

I’m also taken by the unique color of these ripe tomatoes.  They are golden yellow with a tinge of lime green undertones when they are fully ripe.  They are beautiful when used in fresh tomato dishes or sauces, bringing a lovely contrast to the other red colored tomatoes in the dish.

The Blondkopfchen tomato has a sweet, earthy flavor with a touch of citrus.  It’s a perfectly balanced blend of sweet and brightness.  It is a disease resistant variety that consistently produces tomatoes without cracked skins.  It also tolerates our cooler nights here in New England, making it perfectly suited to growing in our garden.  One taste of this fantastic variety and you’ll understand why it is a favorite here at 1840 Farm.


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You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/heirloom-tomato-profile-blondkopfchen-cherry/

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

During the height of heirloom tomato season, we harvest several pounds of cherry tomatoes every day.  It’s intentional:  we plant two dozen cherry tomato plants every summer in our garden.  We have found that they store amazingly well in the freezer, allowing us to make this fresh sauce all winter long.  When the snow is flying outside, a pot of this sauce bubbling on the stove is a wonderful way to remind ourselves that summer will indeed come again.

At 1840 Farm, we enjoy this rich sauce served on fresh polenta made from cornmeal we grind ourselves.  It is also delicious tossed with spaghetti or served with pasta and meatballs. The flavor is rich and earthy with just the right amount of acidity and natural sweetness.

To freeze cherry tomatoes, simply wash them and allow them to dry fully on a clean kitchen towel.  Line a baking sheet or pan that fits into your freezer with freezer paper or parchment.  Place the tomatoes on the pan and place in the freezer.  Allow the tomatoes to freeze solid overnight before transferring to a freezer bag.  Don’t be concerned if the skins rupture as they freeze.  The tomatoes will still store incredibly well and produce a delicious sauce.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

We love to use our favorite heirloom cherry tomato, the Black Cherry, in this recipe.  You can substitute your favorite cherry or grape tomato variety with equally delicious results.

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 ounces tomato paste
1 pound Black Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes or your favorite variety
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

Place a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add butter and olive oil.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion and stir to coat.  Cook until the onion is translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the vermouth, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any caramelized pieces of onion or garlic.  Add the tomato paste and stir to fully combine.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine.  Allow the tomatoes to cook for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften and release their juices.  Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher, lightly crush the tomatoes.  Reduce the heat the low.  Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes or until thick.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.   Add more broth if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to continue to simmer, adding liquid if necessary.  The longer the tomatoes are allowed to cook, the more intense their flavor will be.  Serve the sauce spooned over polenta, spaghetti, or tossed with your favorite pasta, topping with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

 


This recipe was included with our Heirloom Tomato Collection in The 1840 Farm Heirloom Seed Collection.  All of the varieties in our collection are accompanied by plant profiles, planting instructions, and an 1840 Farm recipe so that you can enjoy my family’s favorite preparation with your family. 

The original illustrations for our collection were created by Jennifer Sartell of Iron Oak Farm.  They are available for purchase in the Iron Oak Farm Shop on Etsy.  The heirloom, non-GMO seeds in our collection are from family owned seed purveyor Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/slow-roasted-cherry-tomato-sauce/

Smoky Tomato Jam

I started this blog almost three years ago.  During that time, I have shared countless recipes here and on other blogs.  Some of them are simple, others complex.  All of them are family favorites, tried and true dishes that never fail.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I haven’t shared this delightful recipe earlier.

Smoky Tomato Jam is truly a family favorite.  We honestly haven’t bought a bottle of ketchup since the day I made the first batch.  It’s really that good.  The flavor is earthy and full with so much more body than ketchup could ever deliver.

Coming from me, that’s a real compliment.  From the time I was a young child, I looked for reasons to add ketchup to my plate.  I couldn’t help it.  It was my childlike way to add a bit of tomato flavor to nearly every meal I ate.

I am happy to say that my love of tomatoes has endured and that my taste for them has improved. My tomato love now revolves around a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato.  In fact, you’ll find me in the garden each summer tending to well over 100 heirloom tomato plants.  In spite of all the tomatoes we grow, eat, can, and store, I still never get my fill of that pure tomato flavor.

So, when I saw an incredible looking recipe for a savory tomato jam, I was intrigued.  When I saw that it was written by a blogger who I enjoy and whose recipes are outstanding, I was in.  I went straight to the kitchen and made a batch.

It was amazing.  You know how much I love to tinker with a recipe, so I did.  I adjusted the spices, changed them slightly, and kept tinkering until I got it just to my family’s liking.  I have been making it the same way ever since.

We use this jam in a variety of ways here at 1840 Farm.  Of course, we use it instead of ketchup on burgers, hot dogs, and the like.  We also always feature it with our afternoon cheese course.  It is delicious paired with thinly sliced Piave or on a warm chunk of crusty bread with our homemade goat’s milk quark.  One taste of this divine concoction, and you’ll be dreaming of ways to use it in your kitchen.

So, with a hearty thank you to Jennifer Perillo, one of the first bloggers I followed, I give you the recipe for my family’s favorite Smoky Tomato Jam.  While I’m glad that you’re here at 1840 Farm collecting new recipes, I can’t help but encourage you to leave and browse Jennifer’s blog at In Jennie’s Kitchen to collect a few more.  You won’t be sorry, but I hope that you’ll be back here soon for more of my family’s favorite recipes!

Smoky Tomato Jam
adapted from Jennifer Perillo’s Sweet & Savory Tomato Jam

We prefer this jam to be chunky, but I have pureed it in the past to make a smooth puree that more closely resembles ketchup.  The spices can be changed and adjusted to suit your palate.  While I often use heirloom tomatoes during the height of our fresh tomato season, this recipe is equally delicious using canned diced tomatoes.  Once the tomatoes have been reduced and spiced, it becomes very difficult to discern if they are fresh from the garden or fresh from the pantry.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces tomato paste
28 ounces chopped or diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup (60 grams) unpacked brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

In a medium saucepan, saute minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until fragrant, approximately one minute.  Add tomato paste and stir to blend with the oil and garlic.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer before reducing the heat to low.  Continue to simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally until the desired thickness is reached.

Enjoy as you would ketchup or as a delicious accompaniment to a cheese course.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/05/smoky-tomato-jam/

Heirloom Tomato Profile: German Johnson

The German Johnson Heirloom Tomato is a potato leaf variety of tomato plant with an indeterminate growing habit.  It produces large, round, Beefsteak shaped fruit with bright red skin.  The ripe fruit commonly show bright yellow striping along its shoulders.

The German Johnson’s flesh is pink and meaty with a delicious, old-fashioned tomato flavor.  Fully ripened fruits may weigh in excess of one pound each.  It is not uncommon to harvest tomatoes that tip the scale at 24 ounces or more. In fact, the big, beautiful 23 ounce specimen in the photo above was harvested in our vegetable garden this morning.

The German Johnson is one of the parent species of the Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato.  For me, that is reason enough to include it in the heirloom tomato garden at 1840 Farm.  One bite and I think you’ll agree that the German Johnson is a delicious slicing tomato that transforms the ordinary sandwich into an extraordinary meal.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/09/heirloom-tomato-profile-german-johnson/

Heirloom Tomato Profile: Purple Calabash

Purple Calabash Heirloom Tomatoes have been in the 1840 Farm vegetable gardens since our first summer living here in 2006.  Every year, we look forward to that first slice of Purple Calabash still warm from the sunshine.  If I had to choose just one tomato to grow, this variety would be in the running.

The Purple Calabash has a rich flavor and striking appearance.  The ripened fruits are slightly flattened and beautifully ruffled with a burgundy to deep purple color.  The vines are prolific producers of medium fruits around 3″ wide.

The taste of the Purple Calabash is often compared to red wines such as Cabernet.  The taste is rich and full of old-fashioned tomato flavor with just the right blend of sweetness and acidity.  The flesh is smooth and meaty with evenly distributed seeds.  We love to enjoy this tomato on freshly grilled panini with mozzarella and basil.  The flavor of the Purple Calabash really sings when it is used in a slowly simmered tomato sauce.

One bite of a perfectly ripe Purple Calabash Heirloom Tomato and you would understand why we love this variety so much.  Every year, I expect to find a new variety that I will enjoy just as much. It’s been seven years and I still haven’t found a tomato that can compete in terms of appearance, yield, or more importantly, taste.  Next year, there will again be Purple Calabash tomato seedlings growing in the heirloom garden at 1840 Farm.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/09/heirloom-tomato-profile-purple-calabash/

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomatoes at 1840 FarmThere are certain foods that scream summer to me.  At the very top of the list is my beloved heirloom tomato.  I long ago confessed my deep-rooted love of tomatoes, especially the heirloom variety.  During the summer, heirloom tomatoes take center stage in the 1840 Farm kitchen.  Like a well-loved house guest, we eagerly anticipate their annual arrival and mourn their loss once we have eaten the last morsel.

We built a new hoophouse this spring in order to extend and expand our heirloom tomato harvest.  So far, it has been an astounding success.  We have harvested over 100 pounds of heirloom tomatoes this year with more than 90% of them coming from within the walls of the hoophouse.

While the nighttime temperatures have started to dip closer to frost than I would like to admit, the temperature in the hoophouse is warm and the tomato plants living inside appear to be in midseason form.  In fact, the temperature inside the hoophouse hit the century mark yesterday.  Here’s hoping that we’ll be harvesting ripe tomatoes for many weeks to come.

You might wonder what a family of six could possibly do with over 100 pounds of heirloom tomatoes.  I’ll let you in on our secret:  we eat every last bite.  We share the bounty with other tomato loving friends and preserve sauce and savory tomato jam for enjoying over the long winter in New England.

Mostly, we eat tomatoes.  Then we eat more tomatoes.  Then we invent ways to eat a few more tomatoes.  It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

While we invent new recipes each summer, there are a few family favorites.  One of them is roasted heirloom tomato tart with ricotta and basil.  When asked what’s for dinner, answering with this recipe always makes for a happy family looking forward to sitting at the dinner table.

Gathering with my family to sit around the farmhouse table at the end of the day and share a meal is much dearer to me than heirloom tomatoes.  Finding a way to combine the two is a bonus.  The fact that we have put months of hard work into bringing those tomatoes to the table makes it seem a little sweeter.  Long live summer at 1840 Farm.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Tart
serves 4 – 6 as a main course

This recipe was inspired by the Tomato-Ricotta Tart in Martha Stewart Living’s FOOD.  Over the years, we’ve made a few changes and this is the version we prefer.  I use scraps from the bottom of the pita chip bag for the crust, but good quality bread crumbs or panko would also be delicious.  If you don’t have a food scale handy for weighing the pita chips, use an appropriate amount to yield a generous two cups of crumbs.

                    

180 grams pita chips or breadcrumbs
2 ounces (4 Tablespoons) olive oil
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1 ounce grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pound heirloom tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 9 inch springform pan by wrapping the bottom in aluminum foil.  Set aside.

Place pita chips in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until chips have been transformed into fine crumbs.  Add olive oil and process until the mixture is evenly moist.  Empty crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly to cover the bottom of the pan.

Rinse out the bowl and blade from the food processor.  Add ricotta cheese, eggs, and parmesan to the food processor and process until completely smooth.  Add basil and pulse until basil is evenly distributed throughout the ricotta mixture.

Carefully add the ricotta mixture to the springform pan.  Using a spatula, smooth the mixture over the crumb base to completely cover the pan.  Take care not to disturb the crust mixture any more than necessary.

Slice heirloom tomatoes and place on top of the ricotta, overlapping where needed to fully cover the top.  Brush the top of the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place springform pan on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes are beginning to dry and the ricotta mixture has become firm and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool ten minutes.  Carefully run a thin metal spatula or paring knife around the outside edge of the tart to loosen it from the pan.  Unmold the tart, cut into slices and serve warm.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/09/roasted-heirloom-tomato-tart/

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

In case anyone is wondering what I’ve been up to lately, I’ve been canning tomatoes!

Three day's of the heirloom tomato harvest at 1840 Farm - September 4-6, 2011

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/09/nearly-wordless-wednesday-2/

Nearly Wordless Wednesday – August 10, 2011

Heirloom tomato, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways starting with the first ripe Purple Calabash of 2011.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/08/nearly-wordless-wednesday-august-10-2011/

Why I Garden

Two words:  heirloom tomatoes.  I will freely admit to being giddy this morning.  Why?  I have spotted the first ripening heirloom tomatoes in our greenhouse.  I know that it will only be a few days and there will be Peacevine Cherry tomatoes to enjoy fresh from the vine.  That first taste will be the moment I take a deep breath and remember just why I work so hard in the garden each year.

Why do you garden?

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/07/why-i-garden/

A Dirty Job for Everyone

The Hoophouse at 1840 Farm

Life here at 1840 Farm can get pretty dirty.  Spring has only been here for a few weeks, yet the never-ending trail of garden soil has already started to appear in our mudroom. I’ll spend ten minutes every evening from now until winter trying to clean up the dirt before it ends up all over the rest of the house.  Believe me,  I don’t mind at all.  Dirt on the mudroom floor means that winter has finally ended, spring is here, and summer will be sure to follow.

Summer is my favorite season.  It brings with it long days spent outside working and playing.  It means that we will end our days dirty from the work required to tend our extensive vegetable garden, fruit orchard, and flock of heritage chickens.  We’ll eat lunch outside next to our circa 1840 barn while we listen to the cacophony of chicken sounds coming from our coop.

It won’t be long until we have tired muscles and blisters from the farm chores and unending list of construction projects.  In fact, we’re hoping that a new hoophouse we’re building will extend our growing season past the 90 days that Mother Nature gives us in New England.  With any luck, we’ll be dragging garden soil into the mudroom every month of the year.

Who am I kidding?  I’ve got the sore muscles already and I’ve already applied bandages to blisters on my daughter’s hands.  I spent yesterday using a sledgehammer to drive 30 inch rebar into the ground to stabilize our new hoophouse.  Thor may be playing at a theater near you, but we’re playing Thor right here at 1840 Farm.  He has a stone hammer, we’ve got a sledge.  True, he has fancy superhero garb and a Norse god for a dad, but  I’m not jealous.  I’ve got over a hundred heirloom tomatoes seedlings getting ready for a warm spot in the hoophouse and a dad who helped me build it.  Thor’s got nothing on me.

So why do we work this hard?  Simple.  We know that by growing and preparing our own food, we can stay connected to what we eat every day.  No, we can’t produce everything that we eat, but we can try to come a little closer every year.  Last year, we added chickens  to the farm and now I can’t imagine buying eggs at the grocery store.  In fact, we’re looking to add a few more hens to our flock just so we can make sure that we always have enough fresh eggs right outside our farmhouse door.  Still, other people struggle to understand what we are doing.  If only we had someone who could try to explain it to them.

Enter Mike Rowe.  You know him, the man who makes learning about the Dirty Jobs that people in this country do everyday seem fun.  The man behind Mike Rowe Works and all the resources that go with it.  Well, he did something remarkable last week.  He spoke before a Senate panel.  I’m guessing that most of us wouldn’t consider speaking to the Senate as fun.  I’m also guessing that after it was all said and done, we’d probably leave the Capitol feeling a little dirty.  Mike seems like just the guy for this job.

Mike Rowe Testifying Before the United States Senate

Mike testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  The transcript of his speech is equal parts autobiography and a call to arms.  The video is even more inspiring.  I can’t remember the last time I listened to someone speaking in Washington, DC who I thought was making sense.  Oh, that’s right, it was last week during the Future of Food Conference.  Allow me to rephrase:  I don’t remember the last time a government official said something that made sense.  Clearly we have the wrong people sitting on the high and mighty side of the chamber.

Mike Rowe’s speech was well delivered and in my opinion, right on the money.  He eloquently described how our society has gradually downplayed the value of real work.  He spoke of his grandfather and a generation that knew how to fix things even if it wasn’t their profession.  I remember those days when the neighborhood mothers and fathers all had their talents and they were called upon when needed.  We knew that Mr. Smith could help fix your lawn mower and that he might call up and ask if my father could help install a new light fixture or repair drywall.  One mother was the best seamstress while my mother might be asked for gardening advice.  Everyone had something to contribute and in the end, everyone ended up the better for it.  Now we ask neighbors if they know someone who is a good electrician or handyman.  We rarely even think to try to make the repair ourselves or ask someone to teach us how to do it.

One line of Mike Rowe’s testimony really stuck with me.  “And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.”  He’s right.  We don’t encourage people to pick up a shovel or anything else that might require getting their hands dirty.  We’ve chosen as a society to pretend that getting dirty isn’t a requirement of life.  Along the way, I think we lost a little something.  We became distant and disconnected from the work that makes our lives possible.  Maybe that’s why these types of jobs are now regarded with so little value.  It’s hard to value something that you chose to pretend isn’t there.

Why don’t we value hard work anymore?  I’m not sure.  I know that we used to.  In fact, my grandparents and great grandparents all worked hard and weren’t afraid to get dirty.  They spent their days tending things and making things.  They knew how to fix things.  They came home at the end of the day dirty with a sense of satisfaction.

I don’t know how we can return to a society that values dirty jobs like farming.  I have a hard time believing that the Senate will be able to affect much change in this department.  I have a distinct feeling that they are even more disconnected from the real working public than the rest of us.  I certainly don’t intend to wait around for them to “help” me figure out what I can do.

I intend to do my part right here at 1840 Farm.  I will happily pick up a shovel and get dirty.  While I’m at it, I’ll teach my two children to do the same.  I’ll encourage them to learn to fix or build something.  I’ll consider it a success when they end the day with dirt under their fingernails.  We’ll get dirty together and with any luck, we’ll end our days with a deep sense of satisfaction.

I’ll know that I’m doing something right when it is necessary for them to take a shower at the end of the day before I can even consider sitting at the dinner table with them.  We’ll sit together as a family around our farmhouse table and eat something that we grew ourselves.  We’ll connect with our food, our family, our lives, and our farm.  Maybe I’ll even leave the dirt on the mudroom floor until tomorrow.  After all, a little dirt never hurt anybody.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/05/a-dirty-job-for-everyone/

What a difference a year makes

Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red Heirloom Tomato
Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red Heirloom Tomato

It was a very good year.  We spent all summer enjoying fresh produce from our garden.  We enjoyed everything from the first raspberry to the last stalk of celery.

The real favorite here at 1840 Farm is always the heirloom tomatoes.  In 2010, we harvested 140 pounds of them.  I know, it seems like a lot.  It is.  We’ve eaten them in so many different ways that I’ve lost count:  tarts, pastas, pizzas, lasagna, risotto, and on, and on, and on.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  I’m reveling.  I’m eating every last tomato from our garden.  None of them are going to waste.  I’ve already found a recipe for green tomato relish.  I’m keeping it at the ready for that day that will inevitably arrive in the next few days.  You know the one.  The one that sends me into the garden with a container to gather every last tomato red or not.  We live in New England.  It’s October.  A hard frost can’t be far away.

The good harvest this summer was made all the more incredible considering the heartbreak of last year.  We gave our garden the same tender loving care last year, but with lackluster results.  No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t make up for the weather.  It was too cool.  It was too rainy.  Our beloved heirloom tomatoes put up a good fight, but they couldn’t help it.  The tomato blight was upon us.

We spent the whole summer inside the house avoiding the rain.  We wore jackets in July and were still too cold.  We stared longingly out at the garden from the kitchen window.  I found myself shuffling away from the window muttering, “the blight, the blight”.  A year later, the mere thought of it sends an icy chill up my spine.

We weren’t alone.  Go ahead.  Do a search about tomato blight and feast your eyes on the horror that is an entire year of preparation, planting, and tending without the harvesting.  Josh Kilmer-Purcell recently waxed poetic about his tomato crop from this summer and last year’s blight.  It seems that he is reveling in this year’s harvest just as I am with canning jars as far as the eye can see.

Mother Nature is a cruel mistress.  She can be unkind.  She can take out your tomato crop in one fell swoop.  When it happens, there is nothing to be done.  In fact, if you confirm a case of tomato blight in your garden, other gardeners will expect you to take one for the team and burn your plants to the ground.  It’s too late for you, but the least you can do for your fellow gardeners is save their crop from the same cruel fate, right?  Talk about adding insult to injury.

Lahman Pink Heirloom Tomato

Lahman Pink Heirloom Tomato

Here we sit a year later.  Tomatoes have been weighing down our kitchen counters for months now.  Even so, I am sad to see it come to an end.  I will miss the walk from the tomato patch to the kitchen with an armful of tomatoes.  But I know that the end is near.  When it is over, I will take a moment to admire the beautiful array of glass jars filled with tomatoes of every kind in the pantry.  Thank you 2010 for diced tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, and tomato ketchup jam.

This winter, when I stand in the kitchen, staring out towards the garden, I will dream of another great harvest.  I will not mutter about the blight.  I will zip up my polar fleece and shuffle away from the cold window muttering, “the snow, the snow”.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2010/10/what-a-difference-a-year-makes/

Ciao, Summer

It’s official.  It’s fall.  I know, I know.  I’m supposed to embrace this change.  I should get out my favorite sweater, go apple picking, and buy a pumpkin.  I don’t want to.  Instead, I want to invite summer to stay a while longer.  I want to thumb my nose at Mother Nature.  I want her to understand in no uncertain terms that she can keep her beautiful foliage if I can keep my tomato patch a while longer.

I don’t have anything against fall.  I actually like pumpkins.  Let me count the ways:  pie, cake, bread, risotto.  Okay, I think that you probably get the picture.  It’s not really that I don’t like fall.  It’s just that I really love summer.

I don’t love summer because of the hot weather or pool parties.  They don’t bring anything to my dinner table.  Instead, I love to garden.  I love to plant the tiniest of seeds in the hope that they will bear fruit.  I enjoy the planning, the planting, the tending, the harvesting.

I’ve yet to find a food that doesn’t taste better when we grow it here at 1840 Farm.  It’s the easiest way I know to elevate the taste of everything we eat.  Dinner becomes an adventure.  We can go out to the garden with a bowl and come back into the house with the freshest of ingredients and a recipe brewing in our heads.  It’s like having a Top Chef quickfire challenge right here in our kitchen every night.  I love it.

True, it is a lot of work.  Farming isn’t easy.  Sometimes you meet heartbreak right in your own yard.  This year, I spent hours planning and planting a Three Sisters Garden.  As I worked, I thought of how wonderful it would be to harvest all of the corn, squash, and beans from this new addition to our garden.  I started to plan ahead for the harvest.  Where would we store all of these beautiful vegetables?  The answer was simple.  Nowhere.  It’s pretty easy to ingest the three ears of corn that we were actually able to eat before the corn earworms did.  What a disappointment.  But there was no time for wallowing.  The tomato harvest was ready.

Caprese pasta is a summer favorite here.  We happily eat it at least once a week.  It is so unbelievably simple to make, but delicious to eat.  I keep waiting for it to become boring to my tastebuds.  It hasn’t happened yet.  Every time we have it, we leave the dinner table happy to have eaten it and sad to see that there isn’t more left in the bowl.

Fast forward to today and the tomatoes are barely hanging on.  They’re unhappy about the cooler evenings.  They aren’t ready for fall’s arrival either.  I’m bound and determined to eat every last one of them.  I don’t care if today is the official start of fall.  On my dinner plate, it will be summer.  At least, until the tomatoes are gone.

Caprese Pasta

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 clove garlic, minced

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces mozzarella, cut into cubes

12 ounces rotini or penne pasta

1 handful basil leaves, torn

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil.  Add 1 Tablespoon of salt to the water and return to boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Add cooked pasta to bowl and toss, adding pasta water if necessary.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2010/09/ciao-summer/

Tomatopalooza

Fall Harvest at 1840 Farm

This just in.  I harvested 17 pounds of organic, fresh produce from the 1840 Farm gardens yesterday.  I feel proud.  I feel victorious.  I feel exhausted.

This is the time of year that the hours of labor in our gardens finally seem to make sense. That moment when the kitchen counter seems to struggle under the weight of the mother-lode of new produce every day.  Trips to the store to purchase more canning jars are a regular occurrence.  A serial gardener never seems to have enough of them.  Never.  Just ask my husband.

I’ve already confessed my deep-rooted love for the heirloom tomato.  I’ve come clean about the fact that I just might need to start a support group for gardeners who don’t know when to quit when its planting time.  What I haven’t told you is that I’m drowning in tomatoes.

Yesterday I picked over ten pounds of them and I left at least four pounds on the vine that seemed like they could use another day in the sun.  I’ve been giving them away to anyone who sets foot on our property.  Anyone.  Seriously, don’t stop by unless you are prepared to leave with both arms full of tomatoes.  Our neighbor stopped by the other day and complimented me on my tomato garden.  He should have known better.

That being said, I’m still not suffering from tomato fatigue.  I keep expecting to raise my tomato laden fork to my mouth and be less excited about the prospect of eating more tomatoes.  I am happy to say that it hasn’t happened yet.  I am however, struggling to find new ways to utilize my beloved fruit.  So, I’m off to the cookbook shelf to see if I can find something to inspire tonight’s dinner.

Then I have to decide what to do with the four pounds of eggplant I picked.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2010/09/tomatopalooza/

Summer Tomato Bruschetta

 IMGP2164I never understood the appeal of bruschetta.  This might have something to do with the fact that I had apparently never eaten great bruschetta.  I had only experienced the worst that bruschetta had to offer.  Subpar bread with tasteless, out-of-season tomatoes.  I was not impressed.

Fast forward a few years to me staring at a huge bowl of various tomatoes from our garden.  I was drowning in them. I was running out of ways to prepare them without completely sacrificing their freshness by cooking them as if they were their canned, barely related counterparts.  Enter the Internet.  After spending about an hour reading recipes and information about bruschetta, I put down the computer and picked up my tomatoes.  After a survey of the refrigerator and the time I had on hand, this bruschetta was born.

If you love tomato season like I do, then you will love this bruschetta.  It is my favorite kind of recipe-simple to make, yet tastes like you spent hours working on it.  I like to use the heirloom tomatoes we grow here at the farm.  Their mix of colors and flavors give this a completely new dimension. Every time I make this, I am amazed at the depth of flavor.  It never disappoints.  That is, until I realize that someone else has eaten the last piece.

Summer Tomato Bruschetta

1 baguette, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 cloves garlic, peeled

8 ounces fresh heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped roughly

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange bread slices in single layer on baking sheet.  Bake in oven until lightly toasted.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Combine tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Set aside and allow to rest at least 10 minutes.  Shave parmesan cheese with vegetable peeler.  Set both aside.

Preheat broiler while assembling bruschetta.  Rub the top of each bread slice with a peeled garlic clove.  Stir tomato mixture before spooning onto bread slices.  Top each slice with shaved cheese.  Broil until cheese is just melted.  Serve immediately.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2010/08/summer-tomato-bruschetta/