Making Pizza Sauce (And Pizza)

Every time I make pizza sauce, I use a larger pot. I started with a 3.5 quart, moved on to an 8 quart, and today I'm using my Mom's huge stock pot. It holds 16 quarts and 24 pounds of tomatoes!
For some reason making pizza sauce makes me want to eat pizza, so I decided to make pizza for dinner. The sauce won't be ready in time for dinner, so I pulled some out of the freezer and made some dough in the bread machine.

Then I went out to the garden to pick basil for the sauce and anything else that needed picking and wound up with another dozen tomatoes. If I have time on Friday I'll can them. I also got a gorgeous red pepper - the first I've ever grown- and some lettuce. Now that things have cooled down a bit the lettuce is doing much better.

The herb container garden is doing well, although the smaller ones are having a difficult time growing since I keep pinching sprigs for tomato sauce and pesto. We are planning to winter them over inside. The current plan is to put as many as possible in a window box; it should take up less space than having individual pots of various sizes.
If you're curious, here's a list of the plants that we will be attempting to winter over in the house:
Mandivella (Alice DuPont var.); Basil, Sweet and Spicy Globe; Lovage; Winter Savory; Rosemary; Fennel; Pineapple Sage. I'm not entirely sure all of the above plants will survive the winter this way, so I'll be doing some research in the next few days to figure out the best way to winter them over.



When Your Garden Gives You Tomatoes...

...Make pizza sauce, tacos, salads, spaghetti sauce, salsa, can them, and don't plant as many next year! Our kitchen has been entirely overrun with tomatoes. There are 24 pounds on the kitchen counter, and that's after using the largest pot in the kitchen (holds 8 quarts) to make a large batch of spaghetti/pizza sauce yesterday. Tomorrow I'm going to dig out my Mom's stock pot and try to use up the rest of them. That should also fix the fruit fly problem that's developed. I haven't been able to find an effective way to get rid of fruit flies other than removing the food that they're attracted to.

The peppers are coming along nicely; I'm excited to have red peppers this year instead of green. It sure takes a lot of patience, waiting for them to turn red, though. Speaking of patience, I'm rapidly losing mine with that nasty little chippy that keeps digging in my garden. I'm currently considering mixing up cement and using that to fill in his hole.

One of the Clematis plants seems to be dying, so I took a cutting, dipped it in root hormone, and put it in Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. I've never tried this method of rooting before and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.
The Lemon Balm finally rooted, and has been planted in a small container. Once the weather cools off a bit I'll check out the larger plant that's outside and either divide it or trim the rootball and repot it.

That's All For Now~


My Favorite Recipes

Here are some links to the recipes I've been using this summer:
I chop the basil with a chef's knife so it won't lose as much flavor, then put everything but the oil and basil in the food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Next add the basil, blend a little then slowly start adding the oil. I've lowered the amount of oil used to 1/3 cup. This tastes ok with walnuts, but if you can afford the pine nuts, go for it! I have only used freshly grated cheese for this, and always pack it down a bit.
Zucchini Pesto
Keep a close eye on the walnuts while you're toasting them - they will burn; ask me how I know.
Toasting Walnuts:
Preheat oven to 350 (I used a toaster oven - maybe that's why they burned)
Place nuts in single layer on rimmed baking sheet
Bake 5-10 minutes until golden brown - they may be more golden than brown and will continue to brown after removal from oven.
Chicken Pesto ~~ I made this one up: Preheat broiler; make pesto, spread on chicken, broil until thoroughly done, turning halfway through. Be sure the chicken is at least 6 inches away from heat source.
Grilled Potato Skins
I find that to serve 4 I need to double or triple the recipe; or just buy a five pound bag of potatoes and use all the ones that are big enough. I don't make extra topping as it's usually more than enough. Also, I can fit 4 potatoes in the microwave with no problem. On a gas grill, cook over med/hi heat until cheese melts and just starts to bubble.
I've also adapted this recipe for the oven: Follow beginning of recipe. After brushing with butter place on baking sheet in 425 degree oven until skins begin to crisp; about 5-10 minutes. Add Picante sauce, cheese and bacon, and return to oven until cheese is melted. Add tomatoes, onion and topping, and serve!
Note: Since I don't usually have scallions on hand, I use a pinch of dried onion and put it on right after brushing on the butter. Also, we put the tomatoes, scallions, and topping on the table so people can use as much or as little as they like.
Grilled Potatoes
This is a good recipe for when you don't have time for grilled potato skins. The recipe is a ways down the page. Be sure to read the section about parboiling.
Pizza Sauce
You need to scroll down a ways for the recipe. Since I didn't have any fresh oregano, I stared at the spice shelf in the cupboard and pulled out anything that sounded like it might be good in the sauce. I also put in some fresh parsley, lovage, and winter savory.


Tomatoes & Zucchini: Taking Over The Kitchen

The tomatoes have started ripening, and the blossom end rot seems to have cleared up. I've gotten quite a few seeds from not-quite-perfect fruits, and last week I made pizza sauce for the first time. It came out really well, and I will probably make more since the fridge is rapidly filling with tomatoes.
A huge windstorm came through last week and four of the Mrs. Benson tomato plants and cages fell over. All of the peppers fell over too. None of the plants were damaged, although one tomato fell off and got smashed. The garden is now criss-crossed with string: the tomato cages are tied to the fence in several spots, most of the peppers got tied to the tomato cages, I had one tomato cage left over and was able to slip it over one of the plants and tie it to the fence. It's a little difficult to get around now, but hopefully nothing will fall over.

My garlic arrived and I can hardly wait to plant it. I can't find any specific date to plant but most of the websites I looked at suggested mid to late October, so it's on my calendar for October 15-27. The variety is Sam Loiacono and I ordered it from Underwood Gardens. It is grown locally by a family in Canandaigua, NY.

Yesterday I found a large hole in my garden, presumably made by my chippy friend. I'm trying to think of something to cover his hole with since I'm getting awfully tired of filling in his hole every day. I also pulled up the zucchini plant because what little fruit it was producing would rot at the end before it got very large. Besides, I still have 5 zucchini in the kitchen that haven't been used and several cups of shredded zucchini in the fridge. I'd better get busy cooking, and finding some new recipes to try!



Updates On Miscellaneous Plants and Gardens

Looking back through my posts I realized there are a few things I've neglected to mention, so here's a list of all the things I should have mentioned, but didn't.

  • The Repels-All seemed to keep the critters away for several weeks. I have not had time to re-apply it, so I'm still having to put up with chippie holes in my garden. They don't dig far, just enough to make an indentation. I found a hole outside my garden and I fill it in with rocks and pebbles every day. If I ever get to Lowes, I'm going to get some expanding insulation and fill in his hole for good!
  • I have two container garden tomatoes; one has 2 or 3 plants that didn't fit into my garden plan and the other has one of my experiment tomatoes. They have both grown well, but I have to water them every day as they dry out very quickly. Somehow I ended up with a Calendula plant in one of them. It doesn't get much sun since the tomatoes are so bushy, but I'll leave it there and see what happens.
  • Back in July I mentioned I was going to try and root some Basil and Lemon Balm. The Basil was a huge success! I took the cuttings on July 5'th and planted them 6 days later on the 11'th. I'm still working on the Lemon Balm, but have finally gotten some to root.
  • Our herb container garden is doing well, except for the Lovage. I think it's getting to much shade from the Fennel and Pineapple Sage.
  • I bought 2 Clematis plants to climb the lattice and make it look a little nicer. They seem to be doing well.
  • My Brandywine Tomatoes have gotten blossom end rot for the second year in a row. I don't think I'll grow quite as many next year. I've been giving them more water, fertilizing and cutting off runners and some of the larger leaves in an effort to get more calcium to the tomatoes. It seems a little bizarre since Brandywines are supposed to be the easiest heirloom tomato to grow. On the other hand, the Mrs. Benson tomatoes have had no problems and are producing much larger fruits than I expected.


Culinary Fun, Tomatoes, and To-Do Lists

Did you all enjoy your Labor Day Weekend? I know I did. We had a wonderful picnic on Monday, complete with hot dogs, sausage, baked beans, and (my specialty) grilled potato skins. I even got to use a fresh-picked tomato! Tuesday I made Pesto Chicken for dinner. It turned out really well, as did my experiment of putting some pesto on tomato slices and broiling them.

I have good news, and no, I didn't save a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico(R). The slugs seem to have vanished from my garden! I'm not sure what persuaded them to leave, but I don't really care, as long as their gone.
My tomatoes have finally started to ripen. The Mrs. Benson tomatoes are very large, weighing between 8 and 15 ounces each. So far I have not gotten any Brandywine tomatoes; the ones that ripened got blossom end rot. I'm somewhat surprised since Brandwines are supposed to be very easy to grow, and not prone to disease. I guess end rot is exempt since it's not a disease, but a calcium deficiency in the fruit. If I can get to the garden center some time soon, I will try to find a calcium spray for the leaves, so more calcium can get to the tomatoes. In the meantime, I've been trimming the plants of unnecessary leaves and runners in an effort to keep the leaves from absorbing all the calcium. I'm also fertilizing and watering the plants more often.

Due to the cooler weather most of the flowers have slowed their seed production, but I'm still getting seeds from Calendula, Cosmos, Anise Hyssop, and Salvia plants. On the To-Do List this fall is revamping my flower garden, and finishing the new bed around the mailbox. The bed around the mailbox will be getting Lavender and Rose Campion. I'm not sure what else is planned for it. For my flower bed, we are going to put in a mix of peat moss, top soil, compost, and sand. We're also going to reshape the border to make it look more like a circle than a wavy line.

Farewell For Now~