Category Archives: garden

6 Ways to Use All Those End of Summer Tomatoes

How to Use All of Those Tomatoes Before the Frost | This American House

It’s the end of summer and all of the tomatoes are suddenly getting ripe all at once. And what’s that in the forecast? Frost?! Uh oh! If you don’t get those tomatoes off the vine soon, you’ll lose them! Whatever will you do? Well, you’ll set aside an afternoon to prep that beautiful late summer fruit and then you’ll use one (or more) of the methods and recipes below to make use of them all.

Freeze them: You’ll want to peel the tomatoes first but then you can chop them up and put them in freezer bags or containers. They’ll be great for soups and sauces this winter.

Can them: Freezing tomatoes will only preserve them for a 3-6 months. While canning is a lot more labor intensive, it will also preserve them for much, much longer. For beginners, there’s a wonderfully illustrated tutorial on canning over one Food in Jars.

Make Salsa: Why buy jarred salsa when making your own is so easy? By tossing together just a few ingredients – tomatoes, onions, jalepeno, green pepper, cilantro and lime juice – you can whip up a batch of fresh salsa in a jiffy. Once you’ve perfected your salsa recipe, make a big batch and can it!

Make Pasta Sauce: I haven’t purchased jarred pasta sauce in years because homemade is just too easy. I like this Food Network recipe for its simplicity. Then again, I rarely stick to a recipe when it comes to sauce. Add extra veggies or olives to make the recipe your own.

Make Homemade ketchup: Ditch that overly sweetened bottled ketchup and make your own. This recipe from Ball, the canning jar folks, looks fairly straightforward.

Make Fried Green Tomatoes: Let’s face it – not all of the tomatoes will ripen before the first big frost. What a great excuse to make fried green tomatoes. There’s a great tutorial at Southern Living. Although most recipes, like this one from My Recipes, call for a flour/cornmeal mixture for the breading, I prefer using panko crumbs.

EVEN MORE TOMATO OPTIONS:

Image: This American House

Thar She Blows! Our Pocket Hose Is Already Leaking

Thar She Blows! Our Pocket Hose Sprang a Leak | This American House

We were hoping the Pocket Hose wasn’t too good to be true. If we could get just one summer out of the “hose that grows” we’d be happy. Sadly, just two months into use, our Pocket Hose, that suggestively named garden hose, sprang a leak.

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How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

How to Freeze Green Beans | This American House

In the opening scenes of the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford goes through her morning routine. You see her plunging her face into a bowl of ice water and steaming herself in a hot shower. I thought of this scene yesterday as I was preparing green beans to freeze. With the blanching and the ice bath it felt like I was Joan Crawfording the beans!

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Flower Power: Big Bundles of Hosta Flowers

A bucket full of hosta flowers | This American House

“I don’t know,” I said to my friend Joan. “If you ask me, I think hostas are just weeds that we tolerate.”

I uttered those words earlier this spring. I had just dug up and moved what seemed like the one hundredth hosta that’s planted around the house. At that time, the hostas were these small, uninteresting plants that felt more like a burden than a joy.

“Oh, just you wait,” Joan replied. “You’re going to love them.”

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The Great Outdoors: From Polar Vortex to Summer Sundays

When we closed on the house back in November 2013, the first snow had already fallen on the Dream House. By January 2014, when the above video was shot, the polar vortex had settled on the Midwest and the snow with it. I shot this video one snowy morning after The Mister had gone back to the city. I was feeling as blue and lonely as the weather would suggest.

Considering the harsh winter that we survived, you’ll have to figure us if we’re a little giddy about summer. For only now can we truly enjoy what’s outside the house. While it was great excuse to focus on interior projects over the winter, it’s positively dreamy being able to shift our attention to the outdoors.

For months we would stand at the window and look out over a blanket of ice and snow. We would have spirited conversations about what might lie beneath all that snow. We dreamed about how the big bare trees would look once their leaves had grown back in. We planned our garden and guessed about tree species while we counted down the days until summer.

Here it is, late June, and we have been relishing every moment of the season. The big leafy trees rustle in the wind and sound like ocean waves. The green grass provides a lush carpeting across the ample lawn. I’ve even become one of those guys who enjoys mowing!

Viva summer!

Images: This American House