Gardening! And an abundance of tomatoes…

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One of the things I always want to do with my kids is gardening.  Unfortunately, they lose interest and seem to find it less exciting than I find it.  In my mind, I always think about all the wonderful things they are learning (Growing local food!  Butterflies and birds like certain plants!  Changes in the seasons!), and then I pat myself on the back for teaching my kids these great things.  Then they run away or say it’s boring.  Whatever.  I still do it.

So this year, we did some landscaping and grew tomatoes and peppers from seed.    I had intentions of growing WAY more veggies, but we moved our garden beds and it took longer than expected and we ran out of summer time.  The kids DID really like planting all the tiny seeds in April.  I’m not sure they realize that those big monster tomato plants with all the tomatoes in the garden right now are from those tiny seeds.  To me, it’s just amazing.   If you’d like to start veggies from seed, try seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  AMAZING place.  Order their catalog even if you don’t think you will order seeds.  The catalog is gorgeous with beautiful pictures.  So fun to look at.    Growing heirloom seeds has proven a bit tricky.  This year, the plants developed a blight so they are losing foliage.  Heirloom plants are not cross bred and putzed with so they don’t have disease resistance like the plants you buy in the store in Spring.  Often, the veggies and fruits are a bit smaller too.  But let me tell you, the taste is SO much better.  SO worth it to grow heirlooms, even with the troubles you sometimes have.  This year we grew Chadwick Cherry tomatoes, Opalka tomatoes, Pantano Romanesco tomatoes, Goldman’s Italian American tomatoes, Bullnose peppers and Jimmy Nardello Italian peppers.  So far they are all awesome.  The cherry tomatoes are delicious and I often eat them right off the plant.  The Pantano Romanesco are huge.  Opalka is a paste tomato.  The Bullnose sweet pepper is small but tasty.  This variety was grown (still is?) on the Thomas Jefferson estate.  That’s another fun thing about heirlooms, they always have a story.

Our teeny tiny pepper and tomato sprouts back in April

Our teeny tiny pepper and tomato sprouts back in April

For perennials for your landscape, you can not beat the Flower Factory.  This place is amazing.  The kids like to go here too.  It can be a great outing.  Not only are there zillions of plants to look at and choose from, they even have a sand play area for the kids.  We bought a great variety of hostas, lilies, asters, monarda, and echinacea to plant in our perennial garden out front.    The kids helped us with the lanscaping this year.  And lately, they like to water all the plants when they are outside playing with their kiddie pool and sprinklers.

A beautiful array of hostas and heuchera to plant from the Flower Factory

A beautiful array of hostas and heuchera to plant from the Flower Factory

Okay. so now what should you do with that over abundance of tomatoes?  Let me tell you about Oven Roasted Tomatoes.  They original recipe and directions are found here:  http://www.ourbestbites.com/2008/10/oven-roasted-tomatoes/

I just made a batch of these today.  They are delicious.  I ate almost half the pan as soon as they were cooled.  The rest I will freeze or refrigerate.  Tonight we are having paninis for supper.  If you layer these tomatoes with some  mozarella and good bread, the sandwich is  very close to the tomato and mozarella on ciabatta at Panera.  MMMMMM.  There are many ways to use these tomatoes.  Any way you’d use sun-dried tomatoes can be good.  Pasta, pizza, salad.  My friend makes hers into dip.  Mixing with the Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa with garlic (I always buy it in 6 packs from Costco) is a super simple side too.

The tomatoes are put on the pan skin side down, then sprinkled with garlic.

The tomatoes are put on the pan skin side down, then sprinkled with garlic.

Out of the oven and into my mouth!  MMMM....deliciously roasted.

Out of the oven and into my mouth! MMMM….deliciously roasted.

Enjoy those tomatoes!  And garden on!

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