Our garden has given us big, beautiful tomatoes this summer. And we are thankful. ūüôā We’re now sharing lots of them with friends and looking up ways to cook/store/freeze these ‘pommes d’amour’ to make them last just a little longer.

More tomato goodness:

10 Fun Facts about Tomatoes from The Chef’s Garden

Our favorite Tomato Pie can be found at Wildflower Café in Mentone. Moon, the owner, is one of a kind!

 

Here's a recipe we created inspired by Wildflower's...

SUMMERTIME TOMATO PIE

You’ll Need:
4-5 Fresh Garden Tomatoes (Red & Yellow), Sliced Thick
1 1/2 cups Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 Baked Pie Shell
1/2 cup light Mayonnaise & 1/4 cup light Sour Cream
3/4 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Basil

To Make:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Marinate sliced tomatoes in vinaigrette for 30 minutes and drain
3. Layer tomatoes in baked pie shell and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Combine mayo, sour cream, cheese and basil in separate bowl and spread on top of tomatoes.
5. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool for a bit. Cut into slices and serve warm with a fresh green salad on the side.

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The Garden Gods

On the subject of gardening, there is always much to discuss each year with family, friends, neighbors, even¬†the smart folks at the Co-Op. How to prep the soil? Plant before Easter or before? Why is rainwater¬†better for the vegetables than county water? And the weeds, oh geesh, who’s gonna tackle those¬†every day?

We’re still learning, of course — and I’m not convinced there aren’t¬†divine forces at play when it comes to how a garden will grow. Here’s hoping¬†our good behavior¬†this year will help make the garden gods shine down¬†favorably upon us and our¬†little patch of country dirt.

Happy Gardening! And please feel free to share any secrets to your own¬†backyard garden¬†successes…

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Perfect timing

sweet-potatoes

Our very first sweet potato planting was a¬†small success! Here’s a shot of the ‘harvest’ —¬†dug up today at¬†the start of¬†Thanksgiving week.¬†We loved seeing¬†all the funny¬†tater shapes¬†emerge with¬†each shovelful of turned dirt. If the family doesn’t choose¬†the classic casserole with marshmallows and all the trimmings,¬†we might just opt for this yummy looking recipe from our talented¬†friend Tara, whose delicious food ideas can be found at TaraTeaspoon.com.¬†Let the¬†Thanksgiving¬†Day cooking commence!

 

Read more about the 10 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes.

 

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Near Pear-Fect

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Every fall we stare at the old pear trees out back and make plans. What will we make this year with this sweet country fruit? Who might need¬†extra for canning? In past years, our friend Wendell whipped up an easy Pear Crisp that I¬†love, and two years ago we went around to all our neighbors surprising them with¬†Friendship Pear Muffins. This year we wanted to do an Apple Pear Bread, but after a few tries I was about to give up — that is until last night when, using the very last of the pears, we managed to make a pretty¬†delicious¬†bread…the kind you want to¬†scarf down¬†for breakfast, lunch, snack and¬†dessert. And¬†this time, we think the effort is worth sharing!¬†So here you go, friends:¬†our near¬†Pear-fect¬†Fall Bread (and muffins). ūüôā

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Pear-Fect Fall Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup plain applesauce (or 1/2 cup mashed-up peeled apple)
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tblsp vanilla extract & 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (we like King Arthur)
4 cups firm pears, peeled and diced

Optional: 1/2 cup sliced almonds, ground up in food processor

To Make:

Preheat oven to 350¬į and grease¬†one large loaf pan (or 4-5 mini loaf pans); also¬†line a 6-count muffin pan for the extra batter. In a big bowl,¬†combine brown sugar, coconut¬†oil, applesauce and honey. Stir to mix, then add¬†eggs and extracts. Stir well. In separate big¬†bowl combine salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, ground almonds¬†and flour.¬†Mix well. Fold in¬†wet mixture and stir until moistened.¬†Gently fold in pears.¬†Pour batter into pans and muffin tin. Fill almost to the top. Bake large loaf pan for¬†45-60 minutes (until toothpick comes out almost clean); bake small loaves and muffins approx. 30-40 min. Eat up right away, the next day…or freeze for later.

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Inspired by Chew Out Loud.

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Lessons in Beekeeping


Well, we’ve gone and done it. Just added about 10,000 honeybees to our¬†place — they’re out back in the orchard. Thankfully, we’ve¬†got good neighbors who know a thing or two about creating a healthy apiary, so we’re really just apprentices at this point. But our best-laid plans did soon go awry when¬†our one little beehive (Mike was adamant:¬†we could only have ONE) decided it was doing so well that it would do this thing called “swarm” and subdivide. So now, after our friend Charlie rushed over to help capture the wayward bees that thankfully chose¬†to hang out in a low branch, we have TWO hives. If these little drones¬†divvy up¬†again, I may have to start looking for a new husband because the current one might just quit. But let’s hope not. ūüôā

Here are shots from our adventures so far, including installing the first hive (which came from a beekeeper on Lookout Mountain), capturing the swarm, and later helping Charlie rob one of his own hives and make a delicious 2-gallon batch of honey.

No stings to report yet — well, except for Lola, who just had to go¬†and poke her nose into¬†one of the boxes.

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