Archives for posts with tag: tomatoes

who knew that dave jr. would be the inspiration for implementing our very own community garden here at little tokyo lofts in downtown los angeles?

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for those who don’t know about dave jr., he was a tomato plant, and my first foray into gardening, but apparently our HOA president watched as i was diligently carrying water up to the top floor of the parking garage to water him, and thought he should have a proper place to live.

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i have been wanting to start a garden here for a while, but honestly, lacked the motivation, time and energy. thankfully it seems as though others in my building also wanted the same thing, and as a group we brought together enough of those key elements to make it happen. we have met once before to talk about what we needed to get the ball rolling, the HOA approved our budget, and tonight we met to discuss what we wanted to plant. oh, and we added these lovely lights and some little garden tables and chairs to enhance the area for relaxing.

ltlcglights

follow along as i post updates, photos, recipes, tips, and yes, most likely some failures. ultimately, hopefully we will not only see our seedlings, little green orbs, and buds grow, but our community brought together and cultivated with something as simple as growing produce, herbs and flowers.

we start planting on saturday.

little tokyo lofts • 420 s. san pedro street • los angeles • ca • 90013

ltlcommunitygarden@gmail.com

get used to lots of recipes this summer with wee little yellow orbs from dave jr. because he is producing like a mofo. this was simply another combination of what i happened to have on hand.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium fresh yellow beet, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 12 yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 large sprig fresh tarragon, leaves removed from stem, but not chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil (i used a little regular evoo, and some orange infused from adams’ olive ranch to give it a little more citrus flavor)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • paprika
  • black pepper

after prepping the beet, tomato, cabbage and tarragon, toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice. add a touch of olive oil and a splash of balsamic until nicely coated but not drenched. you can be generous with the paprika, and add black pepper to your taste.

i’m sure one of these days i will use the fruits of dave jr. and actually cook them, but for now i am enjoying them raw, sweet and tangy.

note: this makes enough for about 4 side servings, and is only about 100 calories per serving.

even before my first harvest of dave jr. i have been looking for different recipes to test out with his delicious sweet and tangy fruits. a friend at work brings in vegetables from her garden from time to time. this week was yellow zucchini. i am a fan of most vegetables, and although the squash family has never been a favorite, i was not going to turn down a fresh home garden grown zucchini.

doing some quick googling for recipes, i found this on thekitchn.com. i chose to use a grill pan for the zucchini, and it worked just fine. while they cooked, i cut up my yellow cherry tomatoes and herbs (i had dill, tarragon and chives on hand.) i chose an espresso balsamic vinegar from amphora to drizzle over, and tossed in the rest of the ingredients.

of course they used green zucchini, grape red tomatoes and a different mix of herbs, but i’ll bet mine turned out just as tasty. i served it to accompany cacio e pepe, but this would be a wonderfully fresh side to any summer meal.

note: i liked this zucchini recipe so much i think i’ll try out more from this list on thekitchn.com, perhaps proving that i like squash after all.

i think it is safe to say that dave jr. is a yellow cherry tomato plant.

several of them seemed just soft to the touch and ripe for the picking, so today was the day i decided it was time to pluck a few of the beautiful orbs and have a taste test.

they are like little pieces of candy.

i’m off to the market to get some fresh bread, arugula, bacon and perhaps and avocado, because a blt for dinner is screaming my name.

i know i just posted a dave jr. update a couple days ago, but when i got home from work today i noticed so many more little green orbs emerging from where there once were flowers. i decided to count them. a whopping 35!

i leave on sunday for 6 days to take a road trip from chicago to los angeles with my sisters kate and emma.

although i am really excited for the trip, i can’t imagine how my little fruits will grow. i already miss them. i am absolutely certain this is exactly how parents must feel leaving their newborns. i need to find a tomatositter.

while watering dave jr. today, i noticed in the place of one of his flowers was a very tiny green orb hanging in it’s place. i am very proud, so just like a doting parent, i took too many photos. he’s only the size of a blueberry right now, but here he is:

what is also exciting is that i saw more than a few flowers had dropped, and green fruit is emerging from them, so he will soon have brothers and sisters to hang with. i am still in fear of the returning yellow leaves, but have trimmed them as well, and none of them have been flowering branches.

suddenly i am craving a blt. hello summer!

it’s has been just over a month since planting dave jr. and because i am a newbie to growing tomatoes, i have relied on the interwebs to teach me a thing or two about making him be big, strong and bear beautiful flavorful fruit. there is conflicting advice about whether or not to prune flowers and/or branches at all. one article i read said that it would teach him to continue to grow more flowers, and not bear fruit too soon when he wasn’t strong enough to hold them up. seemed like good advice. i chose to pluck the flower buds until just recently.

most suggested to remove the ‘suckers’ which start to grow in the v between the main stem and other branches. of course, since i didn’t come upon this information until a couple weeks in, the base of dave jr. has become quite full. right around the time i stopped plucking flowers, some yellow leaves started to appear, which concerned me.

i worried i was watering him too much, but after reading more, it could be because i haven’t been watering him enough, there aren’t enough nutrients in his soil, or perhaps he even has a virus. so today i added crumbled up egg shells (for calcium), and some fertilizer (nitrogen) to the top and cultivated it in, gave him a good watering, filled up his reservoir, and trimmed the yellow branches and leaves.

dave sr. didn’t know what kind of tomato dave jr. would produce. the good news is that almost every main branch has flowers on it or at least little tiny buds on them, so hopefully that means lots of fruit this summer, whatever kind that might be.

the anticipation is killing me.

i know it’s only day 10, out of i don’t know how many, but i haven’t killed him…yet. yay for me!

i had to clip one flower off the first week, and was worried the rain we got a few days ago would drown him, but he’s doing really well. actually, i think he may have grown an inch since taking this photo yesterday. seriously.

he looks healthy and green and strong. i’m going to bed in hopes to dream of blts, gazpacho, and hot tomato jam.

is this what it’s like to have a child? probably not in the least huh?

summer meets fall by combining delicious sweet tomatoes and vibrant red kuri squash. i’ve also added a bit of madras curry to give it a little bit of heat. i know it was a bit crazy to make soup on a hot so-cal september day, but the colors of these beauties inspired me.

ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 onion, diced small, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup carrots, diced small
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs red kuri squash, skin removed, seeded, and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 2 tsp of madras curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
  • 6-7 medium tomatoes, seeded (reserve juices, strained of seeds), roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp of thyme, plus extra for garnish
  • pinch of cayenne
  • s+p to taste (i ended up using about 2 tbsp of coarse hanapepe salt and at least a dozen grinds of a pepper mill)
  • crème fraîche, as garnish
  • 1 cup half + half (optional)

yield: 8 cups, 4-6 servings

directions:

melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan, such as a dutch oven.

add onions and carrots, and a touch of salt. let cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. then add the squash and stir to combine. cook, stirring occasionally, until a slight brown fond starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.

add the curry and cayenne. stir to combine.

add the reserved tomato juice and stock. use a wooden spoon to remove any fond from the bottom of the pan. add some s+p. i added about 1 tbsp of hanapepe salt and several cranks on the pepper mill at this point.

bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer. add the tomatoes and thyme. let cook about 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

purée until smooth. i use a hand blender for sheer ease, but a regular blender will work, just make sure you do it in batches and don’t over fill.

taste and add any additional s+p at this point. i added another few cranks on the pepper mill and probably another tbsp of hanapepe salt. then i allowed the spices to meld a little while longer on low heat.

there are a few finishing options. add a dollop of crème fraîche, and a pinch of thyme for garnish.

to add creaminess all the way through, turn off the heat and add 1 cup of half + half. if saving some for the next day, or freezing it, hold off on adding the cream until slowly reheating it.

also, one of my favorite things is grilled cheese and tomato soup, and this makes a wonderful alternative to a mainstay meal.

enjoy!

spring has come and summer is close. i could tell just by seeing all the new colors this morning at the hollywood farmers market. cherries were everywhere! there is something about that bright red color that just pops surrounded by all the green. they haven’t quite reached their peak, but i don’t give them long. i may go back later this week and get a bunch more. since they’re still a bit on the tart side, i find them good for a pie, and who doesn’t like homemade cherry pie?

it was nice to see fava beans and fresh peas still around, and the first of the summer sweet corn was being shucked. i can’t wait to make grilled mexican corn!

here is some of the loot i brought home today:

also, an update to a post i wrote this past week about the south central farmers who were displaced from their original home at 41st and alameda. some of the families moved to bakersfield to continue the cooperative, and as it turns out i got artichokes and squash blossoms from them this morning:

the other really exciting thing to see was tomatoes. i think they are the produce i look forward to the most in the summer. i’m not sure what is my favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes: caprese salad, gazpacho soup, or perhaps just a simple blt?

in sad news, i actually overheard someone say in passing, “i think i am going to get my tomatoes at trader joe’s,” and i thought to myself (wtf!) ‘clearly she did not pass the stand with the rainbow of heirloom tomatoes that i just saw!’

on my way out, i ran into my friend the farmers market fairy, which reminded me that not everyone has the time, energy, or even the knowledge of how to shop for what is good at the market. lucky for those of you who live in the los angeles area, here is a shameless plug: you can have her do it for you (for a fee of course). she really knows her stuff, and will also go to other specialty shops as well if needed, such as mccall’s meat + fishthe cheesestore of silverlake and the like.

so that was my morning at the market. i will be doing occasional updates from time to time, and if you didn’t pick up on it, there were a few hints to what is to come here on wild, fresh + tasty this summer.

cheers!

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