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You Grow the Veg, You Cook the Veg

As those of you who read a lot of Florida bloggers know...it's frickin' hot out there.  This tends to make us not go out there nearly as often as we did in the spring/early summer, so everything in the garden is officially on it's own. This is fine with the volunteer tomato, who inexplicably is putting out orange fruit:

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I would have bet good money on its parentage being the grocery store vine tomatoes, and it may yet be, no guarantee those things will seed true.  Whatever, they're all destined for a big pot of ranchero sauce this week.  *drool* Here's the paprika pepper drying operation:

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Yeah, it's slow, but it works. Here are the myriad red bell peppers and tomatoes that have A) fallen off, B) been harvested early to prevent splitting due to excess rain, and/or C) rescued from wilt-stricken plants...

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...of which the body count now stands at THREE thank you.  I believe I can trace the infection from the purchase of a jalapeno plant from Target's garden section.  And I'm *really* pissed off about it, as you may well imagine, especially seeing as how the red bell plants in that box also appear to be wilting.  *fume* Look back up there at that crazy sausage-shaped tomato...that's a Striped Roma and is it not the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen?  The orange is sort of iridescent, sparkly in the sunshine.  I think they need to sacrifice themselves to my ranchero sauce, too! -- Husband and I were on the way to Lowe's this morning (I swear they need to paint a parking space there for us), talking about what to have for dinner, when it hit me that we had, out in the garden, absolutely everything required to make beef stock (well, except the beef).  We added beef necks to the grocery list and today became Stock-Making Day. First was the harvest of 9 lbs of bunching onions, shallots, scallions, leeks and cipollini onions, and 3 lbs of celery.  Then the cleaning of same, which I have to tell you, would better be effected outside with the assistance of the local fire department.  I believe I have permanently stopped up the right side of the sink at this point. I had a picture of the onion harvest - 9lbs of crazy green stalks sticking out of my blue bucket is quite the sight - but my dang camera got a little confused and that image is lost forever. Trust me, it was cool. Here's the celery harvest:

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And the leftover celery/onions headed for the freezer until the next Stock-Making Day:

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Into the roasting pan went the beef necks, shallots, onions, leeks, cipollini onions, white/orange and purple carrots, a goodly dash of olive oil to keep things from sticking, and an entire bulb of gorgeous garlic, smashed and peeled.

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That roasted at 450 degrees for 30 minutes (turning a couple of times).

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We pulled it out, nicely burning my thumb in the process, transferred everything to a stock pot, then deglazed the pan with 2 cups of water and poured that lovely goodness into the stock pot too. On top of that went 3 bay leaves, 12 cups of water, a goodly handful of the freshly harvested celery (imprecision is not really a problem in stock making), a handful of fresh thyme from the garden, a tbsp or so of  black peppercorns, tsp or so of kosher salt, and about 8 of my baby black plum tomatoes. Use whatever you have on hand...parsnips, potatoes, other things that do not start with "p"... Interlude to Allow for the Waxing Rhapsodic on the Wonder of Black Tomatoes: This is our first year growing any black tomatoes, and I'm just astonished at the depth of flavor they have.  Very low acid, wonderful sweetness, but still a great tomato flavor.  These are on my list to grow every year from now on. So, all that good stuff is in the pot and simmering away right now...

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...after which it'll be refrigerated overnight, the congealed fat peeled off, and the stock poured into the nearest mold-type thinger we can find (ice cube trays work great) and frozen until needed. The only downside to this stock-making business is you spend all day smelling the amazing aromas coming from the stock pot but it's not for eating.  Yet, anyway.