Friday, May 18, 2012

End of Summer Vegies... Eventually!

But first... Happy Mothers Day to all our Mums for last Sunday! We hope you had a lovely day. Sara invited us to Melbourne to have lunch with her and Stephen. They were cooking up a feast for myself, Doris (Stephen's Mum) and Nonna (Stephen's grandmother). Of course the men were invited too. Frans and I decided to leave the car at home and take the train from Colac to the city. We got up early 'ish' and boarded the country Vline train at about 8.30am. We settled down to enjoy our two hour trip. Farm scenes flashed past the train window. Sheep, logging yards, cars with frustrated drivers, more sheep.... Our trip was short lived when an announcement was made that the train would be terminating at Geelong as there was a power faliure in Melbourne. Just our luck! So we stood around in the cold drizzle waiting for a coach to take us the rest of the way. Of course coaches were in short supply as it was Sunday morning, and who would think they would be needed?! We eventually got to Sara and Stephen's place. It was well worth the trip. They cooked a wonderful tapas style lunch. What was most impressive was the quality and volume of food they churned out of their tiny Victorian kitchen. Well done! The trip home was hassle free. We managed to stay on the train for the entire trip this time. We didn't see much from the windows this time as it was dark by the time we chugged out of Southern Cross Station. So out came the sudoku and iPhone. We got home around 9.30pm to a happy dog waiting for us.
I picked these beautiful Crystanthemums from our garden. It makes sense now why we know them as 'Mothers Day' flowers. They started blooming as if to order the week before.

And so we come to the end of our veggies for the Summer. We had a successful first season. Lots of lessons learnt. I will do some things differently next spring. I'll plant the tomatoes MUCH earlier in the greenhouse. That will hopefully ensure we get a bigger crop of ripe tomatoes, rather than the 20 odd kgs of green ones! I'll plant more leafy stuff in the greenhouse too. Rocket, spinach and lettuce type stuff. Definitely no zucchinis! They grew like monsters!

I picked my first pumpkin last week. And what a doozie it was! It was a 'zucca' variety. I bought the seeds from the Italian shop in Melbourne. I'd say it grew well! This baby has a few buddies still lying in the pumpkin patch waiting to ripen further. I've got some lovely yellow skinned butternut squash ripening on the vines too. Pumpkin soup here we come!
This Italian pumpkin was enormous! I wish I'd weighed it. It must have been close to 3kgs.

 Here are some of the green tomatoes harvested before we pulled out the plants to make way for the next crop. Our friend Janelle was here from Brisbane and she helped pick these.

Around 20kgs of green tomatoes in these three baskets

So in preparation, jars had to be cleaned and sterilised. What a job! I wish companies would use easy dissolving glue when they stick their labels onto their jars. Don't they know about recycling! I usually clean the labels off by soaking the jars in hot soapy water for a while then using the scrub bud to remove the stubborn 'bits'. If I still have gunk to remove I resort to cotton wool and eucalyptus oil. Then I give the jars a run through the dishwasher to make sure they're squeaky clean. While the jam, chutney or whatever it is I'm making is bubbling away on the stove, I then put the jars on a tray and into the oven for about 10 minutes at 150 deg.

The three baskets of tomatoes gave me a real challenge. What was I going to do with all of them?! My friend Norma gave me an old Presbyterian Womens cookbook. There were some interesting recipes and hints in this little book. So my green tomato cooking marathon resulted in the following:
Green tomato salsa
Green tomato chutney
Green tomato pickles in vinegar
Green tomato pickles in olive oil (Italian style)
Green tomato jam with ginger

These tomatoes were for the pickles. Sliced and salted.

Thirty odd jars of green tomato preserves!

The chooks benefited from the tomato glut. They got to peck at the 'ends'

I hope everyone who comes to our place likes green tomatoes. And if they don't, they'd better be polite and say 'ooohhh... lovely!' They're going to be on the menu for quite some time!

Have a happy weekend!

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