KODIAK — I’m grateful that the cold weather has been slow in coming, because I’ve procrastinated a few garden chores. I planted my garlic and flowering bulbs, no problem. Kale and broccoli, no sweat. But all those green tomatoes that stubbornly refused to turn red, I put it off ’til the last minute.
I harvested four quarts of green tomatoes. Trust me, there are far more recipes for red tomatoes, than for green ones with the texture of golf balls. I’ve made green tomato-lemon marmalade, fried green tomatoes (back when I ate fried stuff), green tomato chutney and this year: roasted green tomatoes.
I wanted something that didn’t require cooking, like a salsa. Then, I came across this recipe for spicy green tomato salsa. Easy to make, it’s not like a traditional salsa verde which is usually made with tomatillos, but I’d say it’s every bit as delicious. Best of all, it freezes well, so you get the taste sensation of freshness rather than a salsa that’s dulled by cooking or canning. Enjoy it with grilled fish or straight from the jar as a topping for nachos or omelets.
GREEN TOMATO SALSA
• 12 cups green tomatoes that have been run through a food processor
• About 5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 2 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup lime juice
• 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Combine random amounts of the ingredients in a food processor (everything is combined in a big bowl at the end). Pulse until you reach the consistency you like for a salsa. Toss it into a big bowl. Combine, toss and repeat. Adjust seasoning and freeze in handy-sized containers.
PEAR IT UP
Another up and coming bounty is pears. Bartlett and Bosc, in particular. It’s a fall and winter favorite. If you chance upon a sale, embrace it and make Pear Butter.
Bartlett pears are the most commonly grown pear. Green-skinned at the start, they ripen to a golden hue. Best for eating fresh, though they are popular as a canned pear. On the other hand, Bosc pears, a French creation, are dense and crisp, with a beautiful cinnamon brown skin. Expect a healthy crunch if you eat them fresh.
I’d only experienced Bosc pears as an occasional treat, never in large numbers until this year when Marty and I were gifted a case of Bosc pears by B&B guests who maintain 14,000 pear trees in their California orchard. We crunched on them with delight in fruit, green and quinoa salads and cooked them in our oatmeal.
But the best culinary delight came when I made a batch of ginger-pear butter. This recipe, a hybrid of several that I found, is scented with orange, nutmeg and candied ginger. I make it with about one-third the sugar most recipes call for because pears are inherently sweet. It’s wonderful on toast, muffins, ice cream or sliced bananas. Try it on roasted chicken, and let me know what you think.
• 4-6 pounds Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tsp grated orange and/or lemon zest
• 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped candied ginger
Place pears into a large pot over medium heat, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and keep them from sticking. Cook until pears are soft, about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir frequently to prevent scorching and mash occasionally with a potato masher. Cooking it down can take an hour. Tip: I like to reduce the “fuss level” of recipes and in this case, I used a slow cooker, propping the lid open a bit to allow steam to escape and thicken the sauce.
Ladle the pear butter into jars or other containers, leaving ½-inch of headspace. Add lids and freeze. To process in a boiling water bath, spoon into hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom. Remove air bubbles by sliding a metal knife around the inside of the jar where the pear butter touches the glass. Wipe jar rims clean, and lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remember, the water should cover the jars by an inch.
Now that I’ve put the green tomatoes to bed, I’m ready for winter. I’d be oh, so grateful for some snow to brighten the landscape.
What better way to get in the mood for winter and the holidays, than to create something green, beautiful and smells of cedar for your home or office at the annual Wreath-Making Workshop, hosted by the Kodiak Garden Club. This is a very popular event where you can make swags, wreaths and table decorations.
When: Saturday, November 10, from 1-3 pm.
Where: Berean Baptist Church Community Hall (1216 Ismailov St.)
There is a $15 charge to cover the cost of materials, such as greens, wreath forms, decorations, ribbon and tools. You are encouraged, however, to bring your own wire snips, glue guns, garden/work gloves, wreath forms or other goodies to customize your creations. There will be lots of helpers on hand.
I was thinking of making a salmon wreath or a bear garland…Or maybe a giant, green snowflake.