Hope you are all having a great week! As I type this, it is wet out in the gardens from all the rain yesterday and we are taking this time to just be lazy. As you know, it has been hot, with the temperatures just now cooling off below the 90’s for the first time in several weeks. Have I told you how last year, at this time- it was so hot (as it always is) that Farmer Dan and I actually had to have an actual conversation about RBF. We were on our second day of harvesting together in the TN jungle heat, and we found ourselves constantly asking each other ‘What’s wrong?’, ‘Are you ok, are you mad?’. And then we realized, it’s our resting bitch faces, hahahahaha. I mean, how could we not have them? It’s a ‘feels like’ temperature of 111 degrees and we are out here harvesting and working with sweat dripping all down our faces and eyes squinting from the sun we just look a mess. So we talked about how ‘it’s not you, it me’ and agreed just not to ask each other ‘what’s wrong’ etc. anymore. Nothing’s wrong- we are just dealing with farm & wedding barn life for the first year of having both at the same time- and what an adventure it is!
We are loving all the tomatoes and basil and summer vegetables here on the farm right now. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, despite the heat. How are you storing your basil and tomatoes to make sure they last longer and taste best? I took a picture of what we do on the farm (above/below). I wash the basil off and pat dry, then put in a glass jar with a little water on the windowsill. I just pinch off leaves as I need them, and the plants will even grow roots after a week or two. At that point you can plant the stems in some soil to grow more basil if that’s your thing. I like to line my tomatoes up on the windowsill and organize them according to their ripeness. Farmer Dan always has me turn them upside down but I honestly do not know the scientific reason behind that, or if it’s just the way he likes them. If you don’t have a windowsill, the counter is fine. Whatever you do, please never put your tomatoes in the fridge, it ruins them.
This is the time of year to put food up! Even if you are not a canner- you can easily and quickly do a few things to make sure you are able to enjoy the harvest later on this year. Or even for use during THE BREAK. Did you know you can freeze onions, peppers, basil, tomatoes, okra, and potatoes? Yeah girl, put it UP in that freezer. For the most part you don’t need anything but a little room in the freezer and some ziplock freezer (storage) bags. I have found this item (the Vidalia Chop Wizard) to be a huge time saver, it’s cheap and it’s also available at wal-mart. I use it almost daily to make light work of any chopping or dicing.
Here are the ways that I freeze things-
- Onions- I dice using the Vidalia Chop Wizard, put in ziplock bags, and freeze. I also slice some in what I call ‘fajita’ size slices, too. It really is Just. That. Easy.
- Peppers- I dice using the Vidalia Chop Wizard, put in ziplock bags, and freeze. I also slice some in what I call ‘fajita’ size slices, too. You can do this with any kind or color pepper.
- Potatoes- Wash them and bake them in the oven just like you would normally cook a baked potato. Let cool, and put in fridge overnight. Then, shred in a food processor or on a cheese grater. Put the shredded potatoes in ziplock bags and freeze. They make for great quick breakfast hash browns later. I take them frozen- straight into the skillet and cook them up. You can get fancy and add some of those onions and peppers you froze, too. Scattered and chunked and diced or something like that.
- Basil- Place leaves in blender or food processor with a small amount of water or oil and blend well. Place (well its more like scoop and scrape it gets messy) into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to ziplock bags. One snack sized ziplock bag holds 5 cubes perfectly. Many times I will add garlic and parmesan to make a pistou. Then I drop a few cubes in when I am making marinara, use on pizza, spread on garlic bread, use in salad dressings, and on and on.
- Tomatoes- I usually can mine, but you can freeze yours if you want! Just core them, dice them (peeling the tomatoes is optional), and heat over the stove until boiling to kill any enzymes. Allow to cool, and ladle into freezer ziplock bags. Use in soups, stews, marinara, and more.
- Okra- Remove tops of okra and slice in 1/2 inch pieces. Place in large gallon size ziplock bag. Add enough flour to coat all pieces of okra, and a few shakes of salt and pepper and seasoned salt if that’s your thing. Let sit for a while, 5-15 mins, turning the bag over periodically to equally coat each piece of okra. Bake on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or so, flipping the okra halfway through baking time. The goal is to bake the moisture out of the okra so that when it’s frozen it’s not a mushy mess. You’ll see all the steam baking off of it in the oven. Allow to cool on cookie sheet, then place in freezer overnight, still on cookie sheet. Once frozen, place the okra in ziplock freezer bag and freeze. when you want to use it, take straight from the freezer to fryer and it’s fabulous! **Notes- If you prefer cornmeal on your fried okra- add cornmeal either with or instead of the flour. I thought I liked the cornmeal but found the flour is perfect and all we need. Also, I have found adding milk or oil or egg is unnecessary when making both fresh fried okra or okra to freeze. The point is to take the gooeyness out of the okra and adding more liquid didn’t help.
Hope that helps y’all. Have a great week & weekend-
Your Happy Farmer,
Stephanie Allen | Allenbrooke Farms