But this is the garden blog, so I will stick to gardening topics. Though we aren't getting nearly enough summer squash for our liking (thanks, rabbits and deer), the constant flow of tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, eggplant - and now figs - is triggering creativity in the kitchen. Let's go crop by crop - where things stand.
Sweet peppers: glorious! I've saved seed from pretty much all of them, and we have plenty to do all sorts of creative cooking with. Like the entire driveway garden, this is when things get tippy/unruly/stacked in places, but that's fine. All I need to do is look for red or yellow or orange, and I can get to the bounty.
I've stuffed them, roasted them with eggplant, sauteed them, chopped and frozen them. I had a few surprises - one of my White Gold is an unusual color of chartreuse to brownish purple to orange red. Same with my Chocolate Bell this year. And Royal Purple is not quite dark enough in color - it is more like Amethyst. It's OK - we are happy to eat the surprises! Best of all are the six different delightful sweet Paprika peppers - we made our third batch of Paprika today by letting them turn red, slicing thin, dehydrating until crisp, and spinning them using the chopper of our food processor. Fresh Paprika is indescribable!
Hot peppers: Seed is saved and there are countless fruit on the vines - it's time to put an SOS out to the neighborhood chili heads to come and get em! I am glad I cut down on my hot pepper grow outs this year, and focused on those that are not incendiary - we actually can eat with some tolerance the Padron, Jalapeno and Serrano types growing out there.
Eggplant - Wow. So many eggplant. We've settle on Pasta Alla Norma (roasted eggplant sauteed with garlic and tomatoes to make an amazing sauce or topping - peeling, slicing, dipping in egg and bread crumbs and baking into crisp rounds that can be easily frozen - or simply roasting peeled cubes seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 for 45 minutes until they are sweet and useful in any number of recipes - and even frozen in bags. Aside from two varieties, seed is saved from all of them - and Midnight Lightning, Skinny Twilight and Twilight Lightning, all my selections from Orient Express hybrid, did great. In fact, all are continuing to do great. My main surprise - Mardi Gras lost its purple blush and is behaving like Green Ghost. My two Green Ghost plants are not quite - one is white, the other very pale green.
Tomatoes - plentiful and delicious. The Dwarf variety in straw bale project is a great success. Many of these varieties are just spectacular. The indeterminate varieties in 5 gallon bags would be more successful if I could have brought myself to top them at 5 feet. It's a tangle out there! We finally ate a Lucky Cross today, along side a stunning Lillian's Yellow. That's GREAT eating. And the first Brandywine is in the on-deck circle, ready tomorrow.
We've canned twice, made two incredible Crostatas with "oven-nearly dried" tomatoes (a recipe we experienced at the Southern Season cooking class), had pasta salad, made Sun Gold cherry tomato pesto Trapanese, sliced them to do flavor comparisons many times, two Gazpacho and a tomato bisque. They seem happy to be continuing - perhaps for a few more weeks. Which reminds me that I need to feed them tomorrow - and to clear out those that decided to give up the ghost.
I've also made some successful crosses onto our dwarf varieties that will represent leads for future Dwarf project entries. Imagine - Mexico Midget X Summertime Green. The cross took - the hybrid seedlings are up, and indeterminate. I hope to grow a few of the new hybrids this fall, to provide fun things to play with next year.
Am I still having fun? You bet! Am I tired? Indeed - but it is a GOOD tired!
Below - preparing peppers to dehydrate, the first batch of Paprika, and an indescribably delicious tomato Crostata. Now, off to grab the immersion blender and make our Gazpacho for tonight's dinner!