Early Tomatoes Update- what’s today?

Maybe I am a little bitter about the Fourth of July Tomatoes not being ripe on the actual 4th of July. However, when I look back at my journal from last year, I didn’t get any tomatoes until late August. Or at least I didn’t mention them…
Anyway, we have several ripe, here on July 29. They are delicious as only home grow tomatoes can be. These first ones will go onto my lunch, a tomato sandwich- like a BLT, except I’m too lazy to cook bacon. What’s your favorite way to eat tomatoes?IMG_0363

Mocha Borgia

IMG_0328While in Taos on vacation, I had a Mocha Borgia at a communist cafe there (not so communist that it the coffee didn’t cost 4 dollars- to each according to his need didn’t extend to “this woman really needs a good cup of coffee”, and maybe it was just “progressive”- there were sure a lot of bumper stickers on the ceiling). The Mocha Borgia was a latte with chocolate syrup and orange zest. When I read it on the menu board, I visualized a sprinkle of orange zest, rather than the worm-like pieces of peel they topped the drink with, that snaked out through the drinkhole of the plastic lid (drinkhole? is that a word?). I sat on the bench on the porch, with the kids, waiting for DH to track down the burrito stand where we had some amazing breakfast burritos on our honeymoon in 1996.
I sat in the sun, sipping the tasty coffee, but with every couple of sips, a little worm of orange zest would ooze out, and I didn’t want to take off the lid and fish around for the chunks, because by this time DH had found his burrito stand, purchased his burrito, caught up on old times with the owner of the burrito stand (her sister was Mary Jane, the former owner, who had sold us burritos 6 years ago when we were last in Taos, and 17 years ago.) and I was back in the car.
It got me thinking, though, chocolate and orange is such a great combination, but why not do it with extract, instead? A long time ago, Starbucks used to have a Mocha Valencia, then they got rid of it because I am apparently the only person who liked it. What about making a chocolate syrup, and using orange extract instead of vanilla?
Alton Brown has a recipe for chocolate syrup, and the only alteration I have made is to use orange extract instead of vanilla.I also didn’t have as much cocoa powder as called for, so I made a 2/3 batch, which made about 3 cups of syrup. This recipe has the original Alton Brown measurements. You could totally divide the batch, and add different extracts- peppermint, cinnamon, almond?

Alton Brown’s Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups water

3 cups granulated  sugar

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 tablespoon extract of choice (or divide the batch in 3, and use 1 teaspoon each of various flavors)

Boil water and sugar together in a small pot. Whisk in cocoa, salt and corn syrup until solids have dissolved. Cook until mixture is slightly reduced and thickened. Add extract and stir to combine. Strain into a spouted measuring cup and let cool to room temperature, then pour into squeeze bottles and refrigerate.

A Green Thumb? You can Grow that

You do have to water stuff, it's okay if you get distracted momentarily.

You do have to water stuff, it’s okay if you get distracted momentarily.

Actually, I think the Green Thumb is a myth. Kate asked to plant wheat in her little garden this spring, then in the same breath, she said it would probably die because she didn’t have a green thumb. She wants wheat because she and her brother have been playing a lot of MineCraft, which is a computer game where you umm, mine, and craft…you build stuff, and dig for stuff, and shear sheep. There are occasionally zombie pigmen that attack, and you have to fight them off, but mostly it is a big sand box to play in.
So when Kate actually wanted to plant real wheat, I was excited- a chance for her to interact with real objects, in real space. And, honestly, wheat is a great choice here- most farmers around here grow winter wheat rather than summer, but we live on the plains- grass grows great here.

Then after you pin your brother, turn the sprinkler off.

Then after you pin your brother, turn the sprinkler off.

Kate has a little garden bed to call her own, but this is the first year in a while she has been interested. A few years ago, DH offered her a dollar for every hot pepper she grew for him. I think she made 4 bucks.

That’s where the myth of the green thumb comes in- people think there are people who can grow things and people who can’t, but really, it is mostly about paying attention- watering the wheat, pulling out the renegade raspberry bushes and mallow. With good soil, and enough water and sunlight, stuff will grow, no thumbs required.

Then chase your brother again. At least they're outside.

Then chase your brother again. At least they’re outside.