Salsa time!

From the top, we’ve got saucy salsa, corn salsa, and pico style salsa.

As you may have noticed in a previous post, we have fresh tomatoes from our garden. Due to a combination of drought conditions, lack of a hose and laziness, we haven’t had too much luck with the other denizens of our garden, but tomatoes we’ve got.Among these are a fairly good amount of Roma-type tomatoes for me to make sauces and salsa with. And Meghan has been bugging me to get on it and make some before the ‘maters go bad…but it’s been so freakin’ hot!

This morning it wasn’t though. I got my motivation together and made three kinds of salsa, as shown above. I use a handmill type chopper to cut up my ingredients, it’s sort-of a like a small food processor with only one blade and a hand crank to operate it.

I quartered onions and the tomatoes and cut the stems off of the pitifully few anaheim peppers from the garden. Tomatoes I cut the stems from and halved or quartered.

For the corn salsa, I mixed frozen corn with fresh chopped cilantro, some of the tomatoes, some canned green chilis, some diced jalapenos (unfortunately, from a jar), salt, pepper. and lime.

For the saucy salsa (I don’t really know what to call it, but it comes out like a salsa you might buy at a store in a jar, just much fresher), I added a can of Rotel tomato and green chili sauce, diced canned green chilis, the rest of the anaheims, more jalapenos, garlic from a jar, and the salt, pepper, and lime again. This was all simmered on the stove for about half an hour.

Finally, for the pico de gallo style salsa, I used the same ingredients as the saucy salsa, but omitted the Rotel sauce. When I finished running it through the mill, it was very green (and probably still really tasty), but I wanted some more tomatoes, so I cut up a  few more fresh ones (They weren’t quite as ripe as the others I used, but still, they were good.)

Overall, my favorite was the saucy salsa. It gained a bit of sweetness from the cooking. I’m not a huge fan of corn salsa for dipping, so that one’s standing may improve as I make some tacos or something to put it on. They were all awesome, and all better than salsas without garden-fresh stuff in them. Next season, I’ll improve my gardening technique and will have even more to work with.

We got ‘maters!

Our harvest in its “ripening spot.”

We’ve got a garden this year. We tilled a 25X5 foot plot behind our house and planted it with assorted vegetables.We have had some…setbacks, especially one with a rotted out head of cabbage that sort of surprised me. It’s been hot and dry here too, and we have no way to easily water our garden. However, the tomatoes have been doing pretty good.

Don, my father-in-law, says, “Be sure to pick ’em right when they first start to turn orange, otherwise, the squirrels will get ’em!”

I was skeptical, but I defer to Don, because, A) These things ripen up super fast and taste amazing, and B) One that got left on maybe a day too long had a nice little squirrelly bite taken out of it. Bastards.

Anyways Meghan and I got home last night from a drive and as we’re walking to the house, she shouts, “We’ve got ‘maters!” Sure enough, we had plenty that were ripe or near-ripe. Between the two of us, we could barely carry them all back to the house. I asked her to be my stylist for a few photos. The one on top I set up, this one is hers. (She admits to kind-of having a fetish over nice glassware and bowls).

Meghan got one of her favorite bowls for this, a wedding present. I’ll serve something up in a torn piece of cardboard if it’s relatively clean. That doesn’t fly with her.

Of course, since we were taking pictures of something on a table, we had the usual visitor. I took his picture after I finished with the tomatoes. Swear to God, I couldn’t get rid of the little booger when I wanted to shoot the tomatoes, but when I try to get him up there, he wants no part of it. Cats.

“I only do this to vex you” – Eddy. And really, all cats.

The fruits (vegetables?) of my labor

So as I say in my little introductory “about me” thing, gardening is one of my hobbies. It’s a relatively recent one though and this is the first year I have had my own garden. I thought I would do a container garden in order to help separate my vegetables from the environment some and to keep my soil from be completely washed away. Here it is:

My garden. 18 gallon tubs with lettuce, peppers, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

My garden. 18 gallon tubs with lettuce, peppers, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Quick photo information: the picture was taken with my D70 with an 18-35 mm lens at 18 mm, exposure was 1/500 of a second at f11 at ISO 200. Metering was showing about a stop and a half less exposure than that. Lighting was my SB800 on a light stand at the right, triggered my radio slave, set on manual at 1/2 power with zoom set at 105 mm.

Those containers each have pea gravel in the bottom and two 40 lb. bags of potting soil in them. I was hoping that they would drain more efficiently than this region’s rather slow soil. Plus, I can manage their feeding weeding and pest protection better. Still, there’s no such thing as separating an outdoor garden from the environment and my veggies size has been limited by those containers. Have two flat containers at the end of the garden too and the plants in those have had their growth severely limited by the container size and by the fact that they simply do not retain enough water. Those will only be used for herbs next year. Oh and since these were planted in July, even though I bought plants as opposed to seeds, I started way too late.

I also have a container with compost in it, with the knowledge that it wouldn’t really be usable until next year. Speaking of next year, I’ve already decided that I will be tilling out actual plots on the ground, sometime in the fall and spreading them with hay and compost over the winter and then turning the soil in the spring. I’ll start plants from seed indoors in March and bring them out after the almanac says the last risk of frost is past. I also have the convenience of having a huge number of people with more knowledge than me available to have their brains picked in the area.

The real reason I’m posting about this now though is that I was recently able to harvest some peppers and I wanted to shoot a little Edward Weston tribute.

Ok, so not exactly Weston stuff

Ok, so not exactly Weston stuff

I lit it with a portable strobe on a light stand and was not able to work with the highlights like I would have liked. Also, the radioslave was repeatedly triggering the strobe for some reason. It’s an ok picture, but in the end, I wouldn’t say that I’m exactly happy with it, but I told myself that I was going to make a photo of my peppers for my blog and there it is. I don’t remember the exact exposure information, but here is a diagram of how I shot it:

My drawing skills (even in photoshop) are why I got into photography. I suppose I could have had one of the three graphic designers around the office whip up something nicer, but I didn't feel like bothering them.

My drawing skills (even in photoshop) are why I got into photography. I suppose I could have had one of the three graphic designers around the office whip up something nicer, but I didn't feel like bothering them.

The shot you are seeing used the snoot rather than the umbrella. Roscoe Cinefoil is my friend. The graduated backdrop didn’t make much difference, because with the snoot, it just went to black anyway. I suppose I am happy with the look of the hot spot, just not the look of the highlights on the peppers. Oh well, I didn’t feel like working it more, it was really hot in the office and my strobe was malfunctioning. Finally, here’s the color version:

Tasty. Actually a very small bell pepper in the center. They are delicious on pizza and sweeter than those I have gotten from the store by far. Next year, they will be bigger and more numerous.

Tasty. Actually a very small bell pepper in the center. They are delicious on pizza and sweeter than those I have gotten from the store by far. Next year, they will be bigger and more numerous.

So even if I’m not super happy about the closeups of the peppers, I am quite proud of myself for growing something edible on my first time out. And I tell you, I am going to kick this garden’s ass next year.