Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Gardening friends,

In my last post I advised harvesting your tomatoes in anticipation of the storm system headed towards Portland. And oh my what a storm we had! 35mph winds, power outages, thunder & lighting, rain, rain and more rain. Today's cooler cloudy weather was perfect for cooking up all those tomatoes to delicious perfection.



Several years ago I came across an article about slow roasting tomatoes for sauce. The slow roasting technique brings about such a rich sweet flavor from garden fresh tomatoes. Oh and roasting tomatoes in the oven for 2-3 hours makes your house smell amazing and your mouth water with anticipation. This year we grew several varieties of cream, yellow, and orange colored tomatoes, so our sauce was pale. I think the more colors of tomatoes you use the prettier the sauce.

Today's sauce included fresh from our garden: san marzano, big white pink stripe, orange strawberry, lemon boy, and purple bumble bee.



My recipe also incorporates fresh garden basil, garlic, and 'walla walla' sweet onions. And it is ridiculously easy to prepare.

Basically the technique is:

1. Wash tomatoes and cut in half. You want tomatoes to be of similar size, so you may need to quarter larger tomatoes. Remove stems and any brown parts. You do not need to remove the skin or seeds.

2. Generously coat the bottom of baking sheets or dishes with olive oil.

3. Place tomato halves sliced side down on baking sheet.

4. Add several handfuls of whole basil leaves, whole garlic cloves, and slices of onions.

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.



6. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and bake for 2 hours.

7. After cooking, dump everything into a large bowl. Add more fresh basil and salt & pepper to taste. Purify with an immersion blender into a chunky sauce.



Today I used approximately 40 tomatoes which filled 3 baking sheets and yielded 3 quarts + 3 pints of prepared sauce.

I freeze all of this sauce to defrost and use throughout the winter. It is an excellent stand alone sauce for pasta or polenta. And it makes a scrumptious base for soups, particularly winter minestrone. Let's not forget winter lasagne. If I make one batch each month in August, September, and October I have a nice freezer full oaf sauce to last us through the winter.



My husband is not a huge fan of eating fresh raw tomatoes, however, he loves the process of growing tomatoes, roasting them for sauce, and then eating his favorite spaghetti with homemade sauce all winter long. That's pretty sweet.

Happy gardening! Jolie

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Storm on the Way!

Good afternoon gardening friends,

Several major storm systems are rolling into Portland tomorrow through the weekend. This is the first major rain we've had in the Portland metro area since March! See the national weather service special weather statement here. We are excepting rain and lots of it.

This will be a much needed respite for the numerous forest fires raging in Oregon and Washington. Our gardens are also sorely in need of a good rain after such a hot and dry spring and summer.

I very much look forward to this rain with anticipation! In preparation, I spent the morning harvesting tomatoes and securing my dahlias. This week we planted crops for fall & winter harvest: broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, mesclun mix, and spinach. All this rain is going to be great for little transplants.




Here are some tips to help you & your garden survive the summer downpour:

--Tomato fruit is prone to cracking and splitting with watering fluctuations, like a heavy rain. Harvest any mature and almost ripe fruit.

--This wet weekend and cooler temperatures next week is perfect weather for slow roasting tomatoes, cooking a pot of tomato soup, or canning tomato sauce.

--Secure any heavy flopping summer plants. My dahlia plants had gotten very top heavy with blooms and a sudden heavy rain could break their hallow branches. I tied their tall stems to bamboo stakes secured within their support cages.

--With high temperatures in the 70s the next week, today or early next week after the rain stops is a perfect time to plant your garden for a fall and winter harvest.

Enjoy the wet weekend and happy gardening! Jolie

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fall/Winter Gardening Workshops

Good morning gardeners!

It is time to start planning and planting your edible garden for a fall and winter harvest. Please join me for my next organic gardening workshops

Sunday August 30th 12pm
Planning & Planting for a Fall/Winter Harvest
Springwater Studio, Gresham

It is time to begin thinking about planning and planting for a Fall & Winter harvest. Warm fall and mild winter weather provide an opportunity for growing an abundance of food right through winter. Please join Jolie to learn the basics of a productive fall and winter edible garden including what planning what crops to plant when and cold protection techniques.

Sunday September 20th 12pm
Timely Tips for the Fall & Winter Garden
Springwater Studio, Gresham

The summer edible garden is winding down and the time is perfect to join Jolie to learn about planting overwintering crops like garlic & fava beans, planting cover crops to improve your soil, and putting the garden to rest with sheet-mulching. These simple effective techniques will ensure garden success next spring!

All workshops require advanced registration. Please visit my website for more information. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you soon in a workshop.

Happy Gardening,
Jolie

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cucumber-Rosemary Infused Water

Good afternoon gardening friends!

I don't know about you, but when temperatures are in the 90s I am seeking any cooling comfort I can find. One way to stay hydrated and beat the heat is with delicious and simple infused water. Today I made cucumber-rosemary infused water. This technique would also be delicious with other fruits and herbs.



I harvested a cucumber fresh from the garden-washed, peeled and sliced it. I used one long stem of rosemary-washed and broke it in half. Pile into a half gallon mason jar and fill with water. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill and obtain good flavor. Strain out cucumber slices and rosemary. Serve with ice.

Some other fruit and herb ideas:
Lemon or Lime
Mint-apple mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint
Thyme-english, lemon, lime
Basil-italian, licorice, cinnamon, lemon

I hope you are staying cool and enjoying your summer. Happy gardening! Jolie

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Let's Connect!

Good morning gardening friends!

I am passionate about spreading the joy of sustainable gardening and helping gardeners become more successful. There are many ways for us to connect and I would love to hear from you!

If you are on Pinterest please check me out and follow me. Lots of beautiful photos and links.

I am on Facebook with frequent posts of gardening tips, resources and links.

My new website jolieanndonohue.com contains information about gardening services I offer and upcoming gardening workshops.

It is time to begin planning and planting your edible garden for a fall and winter harvest. Please attend one of my upcoming gardening workshops or contact me to schedule a consultation at your home.

In Portland, Autumn is the second planting season. It is a great time to plant because root growth can begin before cold temperatures, winter rains water in your new plants, you have more mature plants in the spring than spring planted. August and September are perfect times to have a garden design or consultation. Please contact me for more information.

I am now taking reservations for wedding floral design for 2016.

Have a wonderful day and happy gardening!

Jolie

Check out our wall of tomatoes!


Dahlias, black-eyed susan, marigolds, sunflowers, and tiger lilies bursting with color in the flower garden!



The herb garden is prolific this year!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Planning & Planting the Fall/Winter Edible Garden

Good morning gardening friends!


Summer is upon us and by now our gardens are bursting with fresh delicious produce. Yesterday we happily harvested cucumbers, squash, beans, cherry tomatoes, basil, potatoes, chard, and kale. We even harvested our very first slicing tomato of summer. A beautiful 'lemon boy.' What a delicious, fresh, and colorful summer pasta primavera I cooked with all of those spectacular tasty vegetables and herbs.



It is hard to imagine now is the time to begin thinking about a fall and winter garden. During this 100 degree weather my overheated brain is thinking of what I will do with all the tomatoes that will be ripe in another month, creative new salad recipes, or maybe just watermelon for dinner, certainly not on frosty weather. But believe it or not July and August are the months to begin planting your garden for a fall and winter harvest.


Portland’s warm fall and mild winter temperatures make an ideal climate for food growing into winter.
According to the farmer’s almanac our average first frost date has now shifted to November 15th. When thinking about planting fall and winter edibles, in general you want them to be at harvestable maturity by this average first frost date. So if you are interested in planting broccoli and the variety you select says 90 days to maturity you need to count back 90 days from November 15th and plant on August 15th. Other factors that effect plant growth to consider are the shorter day lengths and farther position of the sun during fall and winter.

Some crops that do well in the cooler weather of fall and winter are:
arugula
beets
broccoli
brussels sprouts
cabbage
carrots
cauliflower
endive & escarole
kale
kohlrabi
peas
lettuce
mesclun mix
mustard greens
parsnips
radishes
rutabagas
salad greens
scallions
spinach
swiss chard
turnips.

You can also plant seed potatoes in the summer for a late fall harvest.

Many crops are intended to overwinter. You plant them in the fall and they mature for harvest the following spring or summer. Fava beans, garlic, onions and shallots are all overwintering crops. There are also many overwintering varieties of broccoli, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower.

A great resource for timing your fall/winter garden planting is the Territorial Seed Company. Check out their very informative WINTER PLANTING CHART.

Please join me for my upcoming fall and winter gardening workshops

Planning & Planting for a Fall & Winter Harvest
Sunday August 30th 12-2pm

Springwater Studio

It is time to begin thinking about planning and planting for a Fall & Winter harvest. Warm fall and mild winter weather provide an opportunity for growing an abundance of food right through winter. Please join Jolie to learn the basics of a productive fall and winter edible garden including what planning what crops to plant when and cold protection techniques.

Timely Tips for the Fall/Winter Garden
Sunday September 20th 12-2pm

Springwater Studio
The summer edible garden is winding down and the time is perfect to join Jolie to learn about planting overwintering crops like garlic & fava beans, planting cover crops to improve your soil, and putting the garden to rest with sheet-mulching. These simple effective techniques will ensure garden success next spring!

Workshops at Springwater Studio are a suggested $10 donation. For registration please contact Springwater Studio. Springwater Studio is a community arts center located at 120 SW Towle Avenue Gresham OR.


To extend your growing season by providing some frost protection you can purchase a frost blanket from your local nursery. Row covers like a frost blanket are placed directly on plants and freely pass air and water. Frost blankets typically can protect plants down to 26 degrees. You can also construct a simple hoop house or cold frame over your raised bed. Directions for these DYI projects abound on the Internet.

For now enjoy the hot weather and reap the abundant harvest of the summer garden. Grab a glass of iced tea and kick back with your fall and winter seed catalog and planting calendar. Then it is time to get planting. When the winter weather sets in you will be grateful you planned and planted early. Summer planting means winter harvest!

Happy Gardening,
Jolie

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Cooking Part 1: Burrito Bowls

Good afternoon gardeners!
Portland has taken a turn for the HOT and it does not appear we are cooling down any time soon. This week in the 90s, potentially 100 degrees. I don't know about you, but I want to spend as little time in the kitchen with the hot stove as possible. And in my tiny house the main room is living room, dining room, my office and kitchen all wrapped into one. During the summer, if the stove is on I have turned the house into an unwelcome sauna in a matter of minutes.

I am going to bring you a new series of summer cooking features that have no or minimal stove use to help inspire you during these hot summer days. On this week's menu is:

Watermelon Salad
Panzanella
Greek Finger Food
Sesame Chicken Salad
Savory Blueberry Salad

Today, let's start with burrito bowls. So simple, delicious and healthy. I usually always keep most of these ingredients on hand because every week we eat some version of tacos, taco salad, quesadillas, burritos or burrito bowls. At the beginning of the week, on a cooler morning I cook a pot of brown rice for the week. Once that is complete, there is no further stove cooking! Just warm up the beans and rice in the microwave for a minute when you are ready to prepare and eat. If you are willing to do a little more stove cooking at the beginning of the week you can sauté up some veggies while the brown rice is cooking. Too hot? Skip that step!



This recipe is super improvisational, though I hope also inspirational! Pile all the ingredients up in a bowl in this suggested order.

1. Start with a base of greens-lettuce, spinach or mesclun mix

2. Warmed up brown rice. (When I cook the brown rice I usually add a pinch of taco seasoning or a vegan bouillon cube to spice it up)

3. Next add some beans: refried, black or pinto beans are my favorites.

4. Sprinkle on some cheese: grated cheddar or jack, crumbled queso fresca or cojita.

5. Optional veggie mix: This week I lightly sautéed fresh corn, red bell pepper, walla walla onion and garlic. Some other favorite combos are wilted spinach & garlic, broccoli & yam, or carrots & cauliflower.

6. Finish with toppings: avocado, olives, green onion, radishes, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, lime wedges. Go crazy!

7. Optional serve with tortilla chips.

So easy, so fresh, and simply delicious for a summer meal that keeps the kitchen from heating up.