We Grew 1001 Balcony Tomatoes (OK, Quite a Few)

fresh tomatoes Fresh, ripe tomatoes, warm off the vine. You might think you need a plot of land, or at least a large-ish garden to make this happen, but we have been happily surprised with the productivity of our condo garden this first year. We have planters on our balcony, as well as a metre-square plot in the building’s communal roof garden (a yard, if you’re using imperial measures).

We’ve been incorporating fresh tomatoes into our menu for a couple of weeks now, and have even canned a couple of jars. Small-batch canning is easy cooking tomatoesenough; you really just need a big poaching eggs in tomatopot of boiling water that is deeper than your canning jars. I’ll blog about that another time.

Today’s recipe is for a favourite breakfast of ours. Simply chop a big bunch of tomatoes. Add herbs if you like; we had a bit of basil and also a smoky chipotle in adobo which we chopped and put in the pot. Get the tomatoes really simmering. Once you’ve got them bubbling away, crack in a few eggs, one or two per person. I find the easiest way to do this is to crack them one at a time into a small bowl or cup, and gently pour into the tomatoes. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to medium-low, and check every couple of minutes until they are poached as you like. (Probably 5 or 6 minutes). Typically this is just enough time to make some toast.

This is an easy lunch or brunch dish, or a hearty, healthy, low-fat breakfast.

Eggs tomatoes and sourdough

What Cheshire cats must eat for lunch…

These melts had us grinning like Cheshire cats…probably because of the cheese. We made a tuna salad, substituting Dijon for half the mayo, and dicing in a tomato. All this went on top of toasted flax bread, with a grate of Cheshire cheese to top it off.

Under the broiler, and we were done. Lunch for two in under ten minutes, and delicious, as well!

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Out to Pasture

It’s coming! Spring has nearly sprung. Today we were at the Halifax Seaport Market and picked up a delicious steak from Pasture Hill Farm. That, with a few blue fingerlings and a salad seemed like it would be a heavenly choice. We were just tallying up our purchases and we spotted them: local grape tomatoes from Den Haan’s. I wish there was a recipe here, but this is it: grill steak, boil potato, make salad, dream of sprong

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Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes…What Next?

September is tomato-canning month. After putting up dozens of jars of diced and ground tomatoes, salsa, and sauce, we still had more tomatoes that needed to be used. We were incorporating them into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here, some tasty huevos are nestled in a spicy tomato stew – a great way to add some zip at the start (or end) of your day.

Lightly saute a diced onion and a couple of hot peppers (we got these ones from our garden, but the selection is wonderful these days at local farmer’s markets). Then dice 2 or 3 large, juicy tomatoes and add them to the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer until the onions are soft. Crack in a couple of eggs for each serving, cover the pan, and continue to cook until the eggs are just set.

We at ours with a side of homemade multigrain toast.

Albacore Tuna Marinara

A couple of weeks ago we were down at Hooked and they had a delicious-looking slab of sustainably-caught albacore tuna. It was just the thing we were looking for, to be tossed with some homemade marinara and whole-wheat spaghettini. Tasty, fast, and healthy – the perfect Friday night supper.

It's Lamb and it's Friendly!

Yesterday, on a drizzly day, we took a midday break and headed for The Friendly Butcher. Despite the gray, chilly atmosphere, “Oz” and “Buddy” (sorry, we didn’t get your names – these are your new monikers) entertained and amused us with their positive attitudes and their helpful advice. Here, a tasty lamb chop, browned with some aromatic olive oil, celery, onion and garlic. We deglazed with a little red wine, then mixed in a spicy pepper from the farmer’s market, oregano, mushrooms, and olives. Finally we chopped in a huge yellow heritage tomato from The Big Carrot and let it braise in the oven for about 45 minutes at 400F. Meanwhile we cooked some red and blue fingerlings with the skins on. When it was all done, we mashed the potato with a little milk and butter. Ahhh, friendly lamb, friendly fall.

Thank you Jamie Oliver

What a great day it was when we learned to make this delicious tomato salad from a Jamie Oliver cookbook! The farmer’s markets (or if you’re lucky, your back yards) are full of them now. Of course we’ve made it often enough we keep adapting it, so it’s not exactly as it was. In this case we used some red onion from the market, the usual dried oregano, balsamic, EVOO, and pepper. Then a chiffonade of basil from the urban farm, to top it off. Goes with anything, or itself. Mmmm.

Goodness Can Come from a Can

We made this tasty dish earlier in the week: Salmon Pasta Pesto Toss. It all started with some basil and walnut pesto, made from basil we grew here on our urban farm. So many good things to make!

We cooked some whole grain pasta from Better Bulk. In the meantime, we tossed some veggies together with a little EVOO and cooked them until they were tender-crisp. In this case, we used celery, broccoli, yellow peppers, red onions, mushrooms, and carrot, all from the East York Farmer’s Market. Then we stirred in a large chopped tomato from Larry’s garden (not for sale – neighbour-ness has its privileges). We put the lid on and let it simmer while the pasta finished cooking.

Then at the end, we stirred in the drained pasta, a heaping tablespoon or two of the pesto, and a can of wild salmon. We popped on the lid and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes for the flavours to develop. Quick comfort in a bowl. (For cold comfort, you could easily refrigerate this and serve it as a salad!)

Eat More Vegetables!

We love veggies. But one of the things we learned when we lost weight was: eat less, move more. The second thing we learned was: eat more fibre. And finally: eat veggies with everything. So we’re always looking for ways to tuck in a few more vegetable servings.

Take the humble tuna sandwich, for example. We made it on 100% whole wheat bread, just the regular old grocery store kind. We didn’t spread it with anything, to keep the fat content down. For the tuna filling, we used a can of tuna (makes 2 sandwiches), plus a diced yellow tomato (we hear you, it’s a fruit!), a tablespoon (15ml) of light mayo and a tablespoon (15ml) of Dijon mustard. We put it on the bread, then added a few leaves of mixed lettuce and arugula we’re growing out back on the urban farm.

Sound good? It tastes even better.

There's a Reason to Freeze your Beans!

Remember back in the spring, when we were baking and freezing batches and batches of beans? This was one of them – white beans with rosemary. Fast-forward to a blisteringly hot day, and those frozen beans came in handy. We put them on the counter to thaw in the morning, and stuck them back in the fridge when they were slightly icy, around lunchtime.

About half an hour before dinner, we mixed up a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of creamy Dijon, and some olive oil. We blanched some green beans, peas, and asparagus, then chilled them quickly in an ice-water bath.

We chopped in a litte oregano from the garden, and a green onion. Then we diced a couple of farmer’s market tomatoes. We grated in some cheddar from Montforte. Then we tossed it all together in a big bowl with some salt-cured olives from Plank Road Market.

Pair it with a light, bright, summer wine, and the heat will suddenly seem more bearable.

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