Roasting Tomatoes

Tomatoes with tags. Sigh.

There are no more homegrown tomatoes in my freezer. A moment of silence please. Thank you.

I have been making this weird gruel to pack in my lunches- brown rice and lentils cooked in homemade chicken stock, with cherry tomatoes added after cooking. So yummy, and pretty good for me, but no one at home will try it. Maybe if I stop calling it “this weird gruel?” Who knows.

Last week when I saw that I had used up the last of my tomatoes, I bought some canned stewed tomatoes and added it to the weird gruel. Ack. Bleah. Disappointing. I still ate it, but I didn’t love it.

This just isn’t a good time of year for tomatoes, as I probably don’t need to tell you. I probably could  and should be eating some kind of winter vegetable instead, like squash or rutabaga or something. Sigh. Next summer, I’ll make sure I don’t run out of tomatoes in February…

I found some “hothouse tomatoes” from Mexico for 88 cents a pound, and figured I would roast them. Roasting vegetables concentrates the flavor by evaporating the water and caramelizing the sugar. These were monsters- a little under a pound each, and pale. I sliced them into wedges, put them on a sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil and basalmic vinegar, then a sprinkle of pepper and salt.

Photo credit: The Girl

I roasted them at 225 for about 2 hours. Then I forgot to take a picture.

This is another one of those non-recipe recipes- it is more about technique than ingredients. You can roast pretty much anything this way- peppers, squash, probably even rutabagas.


Yes, my legs are warm. Why do you ask?

The item of clothing that I get the most compliments on (and this is everything I own, not just stuff I’ve knit) is a Clapotis scarf made with Noro Silk Garden yarn. It is safe to say, that if you have seen me between the months of October and April in the last 7 years, you have seen this scarf. I predict it will be the item my children fight over when I die (figure out how to insert link here)
I love it, and while I think the pattern is pretty, I know the yarn is what makes it. Silk garden is wool and silk and mohair, so it has warmth, and a sheen, and a halo. It is produced by a Japanese genius who blends colors into one another.
During Christmas break, I had an idea for a striped baby sweater, using Noro interspersed with black. Actually, I can’t say I had the idea, because I am pretty sure it came from Pinterest, which I can’t really say, because no ideas come from Pinterest. They all have different sources and just go to Pinterest to rub against each other. It’s like a high school dance.
So, I ordered some Silk Garden Sock, which adds nylon to the original formula, for durability, and is thinner, so it is a bit cheaper. When it came, I couldn’t see it being another sweater- it wanted to be leg warmers.
When I was in middle school, leg warmers became a mainstream fashion trend, rather than just a…hmmm…who does wear leg warmers, usually?…Anyway, my luckiest friends convinced their moms to buy them leg warmers in purple, and metallic, and rainbow. Mine were cream colored and cable knit, which ironically, is a style that I like now…My mom understood something, then.
However, when I saw my 100 gram skein of Noro, I knew that it’s destiny was to become leg warmers for me. Modern Leg Warmers! So I can wear them to yoga, and camping. Yes, camping!

Back when leg warmers were stylish, my brothers used to ask me, "are your legs warm? are your legs warm?"

This was an extremely generous ball of yarn, also- when I weighed it when I was mostly done with leg warmer #1, there were still 67 grams left, and even after the second one was finished, there was enough for a small cowl. I used black sock yarn, I think from Knitpicks,  left from another project to make ribbing at the top and bottom as a frame. It is thinner, and has a different gauge, so I used different needles. I also got a little bored, so I added a cable to make things interesting. The color gradations in Noro are hard to predict- if it is important you to have identical twins instead of fraternal, Noro might not be the yarn for you.

I mostly wear flip flops in the summer, so I can slip these on when we're camping, and not have to pack more shoes.

Bored Cable Leg Warmer Pattern

On size 3 needles, cast on 52 stitches in a solid contrast yarn.Knit in 2×2 rib for 3 inches- this becomes a cuff you can roll up so you can put your flipflops on, or roll down to cover your toes.

Swtch to Noro and size 5 needles. Knit stockinette until bored. Or 6 inches, whichever comes first.

On needle 1. knit 4, perl 2 knit 4 perl 2 knit 18 til end of the needle. every 6 rows, cable front.

Continue until it is a good fit for your leg, then switch back to the contrast color, do a 2×2 rib for 2 or 3 inches and bind off with super stretchy bind off.

A confession, if you have even read this far- here’s why I should write knitting patterns- people who are really looking for patterns don’t really want to see “knit in stockinette until bored” those are terrible directions. If you are looking for a serious pattern, I am sorry. But I am also lazy- it is hard to write serious patterns.

CSI- Meyer Lemon

Now, that's what I call a dead parrot.

A corollary to the idea that I should be knitting (and skiing) at the top ten percent of my ability, is that if I am not killing plants, I am not challenging myself as a gardener. Well, I killed my Meyer lemon tree, so I guess that counts.
It isn’t terribly mysterious why, though. Not enough water.
Interesting fact, more houseplants are killed by overwatering than underwatering.

Not in my house, you say, well maybe. Usually, overzealous plant owners water too much, which waterlogs the roots. Roots need oxygen, and when they can’t get it, the plant dies.
Not in this case, however. The Boy’s room has windows facing south and west, and he is generous enough to let me keep my plants in there- in the winter he lives in the jungle room, essentially. I usually go in there every few weeks with a jug of water and splash everything. Most of the plants are in fairly large ceramic pots, but the Meyer lemon is…was in an 8 inch diameter clay pot. The splash of water every couple of weeks was not enough to keep the soil moist.
When I discovered the wilty leaves, I overcompensated by thoroughly soaking it in the kitchen sink. It died anyway.
Cue the sad music.
I’ll get another Meyer lemon- try to keep it going. I can’t decide whether I should buy a larger size than what I started with (I paid roughly $10 for a tiny plant in a 2.5 inch pot) so I can just pretend I didn’t lose a year’s growth…what do you think?

You do have a compost pile, right?

I have a little raised veggie bed right outside my back door- it is only 2×3 feet, but super convenient. Last summer, I would go out, pull up a green onion or two for a salad and go right back in.  Next year, I plan to put in tomatoes, which are a heavy feeder- they like a lot of moisture, and a lot of nutrients. I put tomatoes in a different place every year, so disease organisms don’t build up.
Solution- make this veggie bed the winter home of the compost bin, then spread it out in spring.

Luke, I am your father...

I’ve written before about our bin(link to own post)- a Darth Vader head- very ugly, but pretty effective for boiling down organic waste into compost. I move it every few months, spread out the finished compost where it is, and put whatever is not broken down back in the bin in its new location. The partially broken-down stuff is seeded with the compost organisms that will help break down new material.
Because I want the soil to be super rich, the first layer of stuff I put in the bin was comfrey leaves. Comfrey is an amazing plant- it has deep roots that take minerals out of the subsoil and concentrate them in the leaves. When the leaves break down, in compost or mulch, the minerals are deposited in the topsoil. The plants can be whacked back several times a summer and keep coming back on just natural rainfall.

I  add kitchen stuff as it fills up the cup on the edge of the sink, and layers of leaves, too. Kitchen waste is usually high in nitrogen, and can be smelly if there isn’t high carbon material added at the same time. Compost breaks down all winter, although it is slower when the weather is colder.

In about March, I’ll lift the bin off and hopscotch it to another location. I’ll take off  what hasn’t broken down, and spread out the finished compost- moving some to other beds that need it, but saving a lot for the bed. My tomatoes will have a deep bed of good soil to feed on.

You don’t need a Darth Vader head, or any kind of container- compost will break down anywhere. I like my bin, but I recognize it isn’t  necessary.