Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Say Tomato...

We now have heaps of tomatos.  Here in Australia these are called "tom ah toes."  But I know in USA they are called "tom ay toes".  So any American readers, while you look at the photo here, imagine that these are a bumper crop of tom-ah-toes ;)

They are very pretty, shown in the photo piled up in my gorgeous ceramic handmade bison bowls (for more info on Brian Tunks' awesome ceramics check out ).  I love my bison bowls and have been using them daily for over 10 years, after discovering them in Sydney when I moved to Australia.  Back to tomatos--slow to start this season, it is our first time planting a spring summer veggie garden here.  Ian brings more in each day, straight from the garden.  It seems like they are multiplying before my eyes ! I come back in the kitchen and more are waiting there, to join their friends in the bowls, ready for the next snack or meal.  We have red and yellow cherry tomatos, for awhile had some yellow roma/plum tomatos (the plant yielded to a tomato virus, sadly).  Also some funny scalloped shaped "santorini" tomatos (got that seed packet with a magazine, see photo of the tomatos in the blue bowl and the one on the table too).  They taste amazing, bursting with flavour !  And our neighbours have been away a few days and we are minding the garden, and there have been some tomatos from there too.  Let's just say, we are eating tomatos every lunch, and with or for dinner every night.  Last night we had chicken quesadillas served with cherry tomato and feta salad.  Bravo !
before:  mixed berries

during, mixed berries and sugar plus lemon juice,
being cooked to gel/set point

Meantime, got my cute new half pint jars....and made some Mixed Berry Jam.  It is really delicious (even I got a teensy taste).  Predominantly strawberry, with some blueberries and raspberries mixed in.  1.1 kg of berries.  I was VERY careful making it.  Because last week I did the blueberry batch and had a dud batch !  Overcooked it.  It was yummy, but came out hard as taffy.  Will only come out of the jars if microwaved first, to soften it.  I will use it, for something.  filling for fruit tarts ?  Fruit leather ?  Still working on that.  It was a small volume batch  and I just missed recognising the set/gel point  (that is a bit tricky, still learning...), kept going, and then overdid it.  Happy to say it did not happen with the Mixed Berry batch.
After:  Taste Test !
Mixed Berry on left,
Red Plum on left
Both Delicious :)

Jam making over for a bit, until after my next work trip.  In autumn I plant to make Rose Hip Jelly, using rose hips from the hundred or so rose bushes we have here.  And in winter I have my heart set on making Blood Orange Marmalade.  For now, time to tidy up the garden.  It is hot out.  I have been getting workouts in (and have lost a good amount of weight since late Sept--over 10 kgs, more than 22 pounds !)  The roses need a late summer light prune, to put on an autumn flush of flowers in April.  This weekend's job.

Ian under the patio/pergola,
outlook shows garden views
(stone retaining walls have gardens at 2d tier,
 the 1st will get landscaping soon)

Paving with large "capuccino" coloured pavers with
rough tumbled edges.
Looking towards driveway and Ian's workshop

Last but not least, a quick look at the paving under our patio/pergola, photos just above.  Looks so good.

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