The weather was not cold and quite refreshing this past Sunday, and so my partner and the kids decided to have an impromptu barbeque and harvest some of our permaculture garden‘s bounty. My almost-four-year-old son was intrigued enough to join me for negotiating the kale plants and crawling the tomato jungle to extract the ripe specimen. We ended up with two large heaps of kale and two large bowls of tomatoes.
As my son and I have collected our treasure, the sausages were ready, and we sat down to a simple supper of sausages, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, hummus, stir-fried green beans with onions, and fresh cherry tomatoes just off a bush.
Once the supper was done, I have set out to wash and sort tomatoes. The split ones went directly into the blender for a cold tomato soup. As I didn’t have cucumber or celery this time, I have put in some bok choy leaves I had in the fridge. All the ingredients were piled up in the blender, ready to be refrigerated until the next day, when it took one minute for me to get a freshly-blended cold tomato soup for lunch.
After the sorting and putting the split tomatoes aside for the soup, I have ended up with two bowls – one with large beefsteak tomatoes, only some of them ripe, and a full heaping bowl of smaller, cherry, and plum tomatoes. The beefsteak tomatoes were so heavy that most of them were lying on the ground, to the sheer pleasure of various slugs and bugs. I have made an executive decision of ripening them off the vine, so as to have a chance at us, and not the bugs, consuming them.
Three of these tomatoes were quite ripe, however, and so I have made a simple pasta sauce guided by the following recipe. I have substituted some of the herbs, adding dill (as I had a lot of it) and lots of fresh basil from the garden.
The pasta sauce came out delicious and I have frozen several containers of it for the future.
I have decided to freeze most of the kale for future use in smoothies, soups, and salads, and to put aside an equivalent of a store-bought bunch of kale to make a kale quinoa salad.
The kale freezing process involved stripping kale leaves of the hard veins, ripping them into smaller pieces, and washing them. This was done in batches, followed by blanching the washed leaves: throwing them into boiling water for about 3 minutes, dunking them into an ice bath with a slotted spoon, draining them, drying them a bit, and then stuffing them into ice trays. Once they were frozen, I have popped them out, sorted them into zip lock bags, and placed them in the freezer. The two large heaps of kale resulted in just under 6 ice trays and a salad.
For the large quantity of smaller tomatoes, I have decided to make oven version of sun-dried tomatoes. They came out delicious and I have since been adding them as toppings on salads and hot dishes.
Inspired by my tomato and kale adventures, the next day I have gathered some of my scarlet runner bean pods — those that looked the most full and ready. There are still a few ripening ones, so I have left them for later.
I have then peeled them and will be following the instructions from EarthEasy to dry and save them for seeds, as there are not that many of them.
The garden is beautiful, and it is a pleasure to spend time surrounded by its lush greenery. Being in the midst of the leaves whispering in the wind, butterflies and buzzing beetles zooming about, birds chirping at the bird feeder, and ripe fruit hanging in the depths of my tomato forest, gets me breathing deeply, letting go of fatigue, and feeling grateful for this green ecosystem full of life, on my doorstep.