Tag Archives: Gardening

Two simple but delicious recipes to use up all those tomatoes growing in your garden…

Both of these recipes have been posted in the past (or at least variations of them). And whether you grow them in your own garden or buy them from the market or a store, this is prime tomato season. Both recipes are simple to make a bursting with fresh flavor. 


Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce 

Makes about 3 quarts
4 quarts fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 bunch fresh basil
Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds; discard the seeds and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan; add the onions, then the garlic, then the sugar, salt, fennel, and hot pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Stir in whole basil leaves and remove from the heat. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Taste it for seasoning, then puree in a blender. Refrigerate until needed.

Spicy and Smoky Tomato ketchup 

 Makes about 2 cups
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the cores of the tomatoes, and make a small X-shaped incision on the opposite ends. Drop the tomatoes in the water a few at a time and blanch them for only about 45 seconds, just to loosen their skins. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of iced water. Peel away their skins, cut them in half, squeeze out their seeds, and dice them. Transfer the tomatoes to a small pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook for about an hour, until it becomes quite thick. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.

V is for Victory (and also vegetables)

Well it’s that time of year again (finally!)…time to start planting. If you’ve been to this blog in the past you likely know a few things about me…a couple are that I like growing some of my own food, and another is that I dislike cutting grass. So about a decade ago I dug up my teeny front lawn and planted vegetables (what my mom used to call a Victory Garden) and have never looked back. Below is a pic of some of the things I put in the ground yesterday. To see previous years click here.

Urban Simplicity.

V is for Victory (and also vegetables)

Well it’s that time of year again (finally!)…time to start planting. If you’ve been to this blog in the past you likely know a few things about me…a couple are that I like growing some of my own food, and another is that I dislike cutting grass. So about a decade ago I dug up my teeny front lawn and planted vegetables (what my mom used to call a Victory Garden) and have never looked back. Below is a pic of some of the things I put in the ground yesterday. To see previous years click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Green Green Garden…

So it’s still early in the season but with the humidity and wet spring things are really flourishing. Because of various reasons I’ve cut way back on the amount I’m growing this year, but all of these items are growing in my teeny front yard right next to the sidewalk (pavements to my brothers and sisters across the pond). Growing vegetables is, to me, way  more interesting than growing and cutting grass. The plant above I just put in the ground yesterday; it’s a cousa plant, or white Lebanese zucchini, which was gifted to me by my cousin Joe. It should only be a few weeks (maybe a couple) until I bit into that first tomato in the spot that it grew (I love tomatoes). Anyhow, being the proud gardener I thought I’d share a few photos.

Urban Simplicity.

After the Rain (four photos and a few words)

Well it finally rained today. A crazy heavy downpour with thunder and lightening. I stood on the porch and watched it for a while. It lasted only about an hour. The rain is so infrequent this summer it seemed really special. I wished it would rain all day. It’s not very often I hope for rain (my least favorite element to ride a bike in) but geeze o’ man did we need it. Anyhow, after it stopped I went out to the garden to pick food for dinner. Everything had that strange misty hue that only happens after a heavy downpour on a hot and humid day. I grabbed a camera and snapped a few photos and thought I’d share. Click for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Food Not Lawns

The above image is of my teeny front yard, or what was once a front yard. I haven’t grown grass there in years. I’ve been a vegetable gardener for the past 25 years or so, and after moving into my current house about ten years ago I realized two things. The first was that I didn’t like to cut grass (I’ve always known that), and the front of my house received the best sunlight. So you know the rest…yup, tore it up and planted food. Anyhow, I spent the better part of the morning today preparing the soil. I planted a few things in pots today and should start to get things in the ground over the next week (I also have a small garden in the rear of the house). The Mundo is in the background mounted with three crates getting ready to get more plants and supplies. Exciting. Anyhow, if you’d like to see a few pics from previous years gardens, click here. You may also find Food Not Lawns interesting.

Front Yard Wheat

This is a picture of a continuation of two previous posts (click here and here) regarding my garden experiment for 2011…front yard wheat. It’s only a small patch to see if it would grow–it is–so maybe next year there will be more. There won’t be nearly enough to make enough flour for a loaf of bread (my goal) but there will still probably be enough for me to harvest and boil for either a side dish or salad. Pretty cool.


I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the garden tonight to snap a few photos. It was the evening and the sun hits the plants “just right.” Because of my late start this year I did not expect any flowers or fruit yet, but upon closer inspection there is plenty. I ate beans as I lifted leaves and snapped the photos (and yes they are nice and sweet). But it’s the tomatoes–my favorite–that I am really waiting for.

Still Planting…

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts regarding gardening, my vegetable garden(s) are a new experiment each year. In fact they began as an experiment about twenty years ago. I pushed a few things in the ground and was surprised that they grew…and grew and grew. Anyhow that was an apartment and a house ago…the house I currently live in has seen some of my most aggressive experiments yet. But usually by this time I have everything in the ground. Because of the cold and rainy and cold and rainy spring (did I mention cold and rainy?), and other personal things, I was at a late start. I’ve gradually filled in the front yard garden but have yet to begin the one in the rear of the house…worst case scenario I’ll just have one out front this year (egads!). But then again maybe I’ll experiment and plant things late. Anyhow, the garden is finally starting to show signs of growth and their are a few flowers on some of the plants. Here’s a few pictures. To see pictures and previous garden-related posts (with pictures) click here.

Front Yard Broccoli in the Morning

OK, so I know that’s a hokey title for this post…but the photo is what it is. This morning, just before I left for work, I went out to the front yard garden–coffee cup in hand–to see if rabbits had a buffet last night (they didn’t…yet) and was taken by how the sun was reflecting off some of the plants with little dew drops still hanging on them. So I snapped a few photos; the one you see is a favorite…just thought I’d share. Not only do I find it beautiful, but in another few weeks that plant will provide food for my son and I. And that’s the true beauty of it. Sustenance.

Tomatoes on a Shelf

So what’s the date? November 5th…and I still have tomatoes ripening. I picked these a little over a week ago (the very last of them), and it was just before the first frost. They’re on a shelf in my kitchen ripening. The above picture is 5 photos of them over the last 8 or 9 days. I’ll either cook or freeze them tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have a tomato, mayonnaise, and onion sandwich for lunch…the last one until next season.

Home Grown Sauerkraut (Photos and Recipes)

Well of course sauerkraut is not “home grown,” it’s prepared…more specifically it makes itself, you simply provide the proper conditions. I have made this, and other variations, many times but never with cabbage that I grew myself; it literally went from the dirt to the fermentation bucket in about 20 minutes…now a couple weeks to wait until it ripens (I added a few hot chilies to this batch…also, believe-it-or-not, still hanging from their plants yesterday). I’ve posted before on fermented foods–my acquired love for them and their health benefits–and to read more about them and for actual recipes (including one for the sauerkraut pictured) click here. If you’ve never made fermented vegetables–kraut or other–I encourage you to give it a try. Not only are they super delicious and healthy for your body (probiotic) they are exceedingly easy to prepare…as aforementioned, they make themselves, you simply provide the conditions for the “good bacteria” to grow. Click here for text and  recipes.

Fall Harvest

I finally pulled up the garden in the front yard today. We haven’t had any frost yet so there were still vegetables growing. Amazing! I would have let it grow longer but this Saturday I am getting my annual shipment of firewood and he dumps it (you guessed it) right in the front yard. I still have a few things growing in the backyard but this little harvest is truly awesome. It is, after all, closer to November than the beginning of October. This is proof that you can grow at least some of your own food at home no matter how little land you have. Many of these vegetables literally butt up against the sidewalk (pavements) as they grow. Below is the diagram of my front yard garden I drew last spring (click it for a larger view); each square represents 6 inches. Part of what I like about having the garden out front is that I walk through it every time I enter or exit the house.

Until next year….

Sidewalk Brussels Sprouts

Over the years I have really grown (pun intended) to love cruciferous vegetables but have never really had much luck in my garden with brussels sprouts…usually all leaf and no vegetable. But that’s not the case this year. I have 4 plants growing in my front yard about 12 inches from the sidewalk. Maybe it was the hot summer and damp fall but the conditions must have been right…I was surprised today when I lifted their leaves to see the stalks covered in baby brussels sprouts; cabbage is doing well also (click here to see pictures). Anyhow, I was excited enough about this (it’s the little things, right?) that I thought I’d share a few pictures.

The Last of the Tomatoes

I rummaged around the garden in the rear of my house today and was surprised to discover tomatoes hanging from the vines and lying on the ground…not bad for the second week of October. There are still a fair amount of green ones hanging on the vines which I didn’t pick but probably should have…I heard on the radio that tonight there is the first frost warning of the season.

After The Rain

After the rain tonight I went out to the garden to pick a few tomatoes because I saw that some were super-ripe and nearly ready to fall from the vines themselves. It was that magical time–almost mystical–right after a storm when it’s not-yet-night but not-quite-day. The sky had a glow to it and–because of the heavy downpour–the air smelled almost floral. It was peaceful…all evenings should be like this.