Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Final Fall Flowers & Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

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My garden is a summer garden. It looks spectacular in the summer, and spring is pretty darn nice too. But when school starts, I really lose a lot of oomph, and I start to let it all go. If I kept at it (uh...watering would be good...) I'd still have some great annuals to perk up the place. But I lose steam.

Last night we were expecting our first hard frost. I learned of this around 9 p.m., and immediately went outside to cut down the last of the basil, pick the last of the tomatoes, peppers, & tomatillos, and the last of the tender blooming flowers.

In a hurry, I stuck the basil into canning jars full of water, and placed those in the refrigerator. This is my preferred way to save fresh basil. It can last well over a week this way. Some people place a plastic bag over the top, but I've never found that to make much of a difference. So I skip the bag.

There were only a few tomatoes worth picking; a few of them ripe. I picked the unripened ones as well and placed them on a platter. I stick the platter into my dark pantry and they ripen in a few days. Oregon's tomato growing season is relatively short. Once they get going, we simply run out of hot, sunny days to keep them ripening. So every year, I resort to ripening the last of them in the pantry.

The tomatillos were very small, not even filling their husks. (Uh, maybe if I'd have watered them in the past month, things would be different...). I'm not sure if they're worth saving. Maybe we'll get a small batch of tomatillo salsa* out of them.

And the flowers. I LOVE hydrangeas. Just love them!! In late summer we stop seeing the brilliant colors, and instead get this beautiful greenish/mauve-ish blossom. I have bushes full of these, and find the colors just perfect for a fall garden. They won't last long. As soon as the frosts come, they'll get all wilty black. (I try to cut them back a bit before that's just easier.)

Last night I picked a bunch of blossoms. Some are in a vase full of water. Two bunches are drying; hanging upside down from a cabinet in my office. They dry well, retaining their color for quite some time. So, while I love fresh flowers in the house, I make do with a couple of large dried hydrangea bouquets in the fall/winter.

Some dahlias were also still blooming, and I picked those, placing them in a vase with two Nikko Blue hydrangeas that were oddly enough still bright blue.

*Tomatillo Sauce (San Francisco Encore)

Heat in a large saucepan:
6 T oil (3/8 C)

Add, and cook until soft:
2 medium onions, chopped
1 7 oz can diced green chiles
26 oz. (2 13 oz. cans) tomatillos, drained (I use fresh when they're in season!)
1 C chicken stock
3 TB fresh lime juice
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Simmer 25 minutes over low heat. Taste and correct seasonings. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth.