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We regularly cook up big batches of pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans, so we always have some in the freezer. I really love plain beans with salt, I don't need to make them anything fancy, so these will make good back-up lunches with some rice. My good friend Lydia taught me the trick (which she learned from her Salvadoran mother-in-law) of cooking a whole onion with the beans, which gives them a really nice smooth flavor. Yum.
We made a run to Costco and WinCo this week to stock up on some bulk groceries before I start school. At Costco we found big trays of fresh farmed Tilapia (which is at the top of the safe and sustainable seafood list) at a good price, and also bought a huge fresh Alaskan Coho salmon fillet, also on the list. At home, we split the Tilapia up into two-serving batches and put those in individual bags in the freezer, now a good five meals' worth in there. I cut up the salmon into small sections and we froze those as well, four dinners' worth from that one fillet!
We are getting about a million cherry tomatoes every day, which are great for fresh use in salads and pastas and salsas, so I gathered up the larger tomatoes and made a batch of roasted passata-style sauce for the freezer. I wasn't keen on canning tomatoes, so I spent some time online looking for recipes for frozen tomato sauce, this one is a total gem. It's super easy; just cut the tops off the tomatoes, and place them open-end down in a baking pan. Pile on a bunch of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano) and several whole cloves of garlic, dress liberally with olive oil and sprinkle on some sea salt. Bake for 1 hour at 400F. Let cool, then you can just lift the tomato skins off, and remove the woody herb stems. Puree it all in a food processor, and freeze!
I went one step further and added a sliced fresh bell pepper from the garden, because I love the flavor of roasted pepper.
This smelled so amazing while it was cooking, that it was really hard not to eat it all right away! I look forward to making more, because this batch only yielded a pint of sauce, but it tastes so delectable that I love the idea of putting it away for some gloomy winter night when we need a good stout taste of summer. Added bonus, everything in this sauce, apart from the olive oil, garlic and salt, is from our garden. Next year, the garlic will be our own too!
Matt has been working hard this week at making the fruit trees happier. He borrowed his dad's long-handled pruner and cut back the neighbor's cedar hedge which was overhanging our fence by six or more feet in places. I hadn't realized just how far it was coming over our apple trees until he cut it away. This is what that side of the yard looked like the day we moved in:
Everything was so green back in June!
And this is what it looks like now, between Dad's pruning of the fruit trees and Matt's pruning of the cedars:
It looks a bit desolate, especially with the brown lawn, but we already feel better, because there is so much more light in the yard and it's clear the fruit trees are happier now. They are getting more sun, and also can now get the benefit of rain. When it rained last week, we noticed that the cedar branches were preventing the rain from getting anywhere near the apples' roots.
We got a grand total of six Asian pears from the tree on the right, but they are perfect and so delicious!
My cousin told me that a big hailstorm hit Portland early this spring when her Asian pear tree was blooming, so maybe that explains our lack of a crop this year. Hopefully we'll get lots more next summer.
What are you enjoying from your garden right now?