Category Archives: garden

Oven Dried Tomatoes ~ Tadam Imqaddet

Packed in Oil
Packed in Oil

This year I went a little bit crazy buying tomato plants.  Over the past few years I’ve tried planting eggplants and I’ve tried zucchini and cucumbers…but always had a measly return for my efforts making me feel like a green failure. Tomatoes on the other hand, grow like a weed and produce exceptional fruit!  So this year, I filled every bit of soil with Early Girl tomato plants and a couple of cherry tomato plants.

And now…a few months later, I have tomatoes coming out of my ears, and have been trying out numerous recipes to use them.  So far I’ve canned whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. I’ve tried tomato jam with great results.  And of course I’ve had hobz biz-zejt u t-tadam (bread with tomatoes and olive oil)…which is my ultimate favourite summer food!!

Then last week, my friend Terrie whom I have known since our school days, posted photos of her oven dried tomatoes and I could not stop drooling!! So here it is…all the way from Holland…Terrie’s Oven Dried Tomato recipe.

Like every maltese cook, Terrie’s recipe went something like this…

“Bit of this and a pinch of that”

You get the picture…so I’m going to try my best and give you the quantities, but please feel free to add or omit and adjust to your heart’s content.

Ingredients

3 lbs tomatoes cut in half and deseeded
salt

1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp  fresh basil
1 tsp mint
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

enough oil to pack the tomatoes

Freshly Cut Tomaoes
Freshly Cut Tomaoes

Cut the tomatoes in half and deseed.  Sprinkle some salt on each half and place them face down on paper towels in a dish and leave them there for about half an hour to absorb some of the juices.

In the meantime, mince the garlic and place in a small bowl along with the rest of the chopped up herbs and salt and pepper.

Quarter the tomatoes and brush them with oil mixture. Place in a prepared dish about half an inch apart.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper.  Bake in 250 degree oven for about 3-4 hours depending on your oven.  Mine took longer so keep checking them until they’re done.

Oven Dried Tomatoes
Oven Dried Tomatoes

Let cool and place in sterilised jar. Pour enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes. Store in refrigerator.

Packed in Oil
Packed in Oil

Disneyland ~ Not Just The Happiest Place On Earth

Disneyland
Disneyland

Well, when I went outside this morning, the sight that met me did make me very happy though.

Disneyland, one of my more compact rose bushes, always gives a marvelous spring display of roses, but I’ve never seen it produce over twenty four blooms on one stalk.

Tweets and Feeds

I am told that the previous owners of our home were avid bird lovers and one of the husband’s hobbies was making bird houses.  It wasn’t hard to detect that as we must’ve found about twenty birdhouses placed all over the garden.  Some even survived the test of time and this particular one is exceptionally attractive to all sort of birds. We’ve had robins nest on top, hummingbirds thinking the flowers painted on were actually real, and this year a family of wrens were born.

Here’s the mama wren bringing food for her babies…if you listen hard you can even hear the babies’ high pitched chirps.

 I wish I could see through the bird house but I enjoy them just as much sitting in my favourite chair in my kitchen looking out my window every day seeing mama and papa wren working tirelessly feeding  their young!

The day after I shot this video, I was looking out my window and noticed that mama wren had not visited for a while. Yes, the baby birds had flown the coop and I had missed the flight. Must’ve happened during the night. Here’s the nest inside the birdhouse…

Blossom Blossom Everywhere

 

Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this much blossom in my garden.  When we first moved into this house, I knew close to nothing about gardening and I hope that now, eight years later, I’ve learned to at least recognise weed from plants.  After living in apartments and town homes for such a long time, I was so excited to have my own garden, that I could not wait to dig in and dig out what I did not like.

Surviving Amaryllis
Surviving Amaryllis

No I did not listen to Kevin when he urged me not to touch anything for a whole year and to just to see what the garden had to offer.  Instead, I got my nice shiny new shovel and started digging out multiple agapanthus plants which I really disliked and threw them out!

Lucky for me, that day my friend Kalpana came by to visit and saw my huge clump of green waste ready for Friday’s Pick Up and asked me why I was getting rid of so many Amaryllis!! Aaaagh…what…amaryllis?? What had I done?  I LOVE AMARYLLIS!! So I frantically went head first in the garden bin and picked up and replanted each and every one like the garden fool that I was.  That was my first lesson in gardening.  Listen to Kevin!

Apple Blossom
Apple Blossom

 

Oh apple tree!! The first year you gave us an abundance of the most delicious apples I’d ever tasted.  I had no idea how to take care of  you though.  In my eyes, it looked like you needed a good prune so I grabbed my clippers and prune I did!! I pruned you so hard that you didn’t give us any apples for the next FOUR years!!

Fig Leaf
Fig Leaf

 

 

Oh baby fig tree…I wanted to espalier you like I see at the garden centres.  How hard could that be?  My lovely husband even built me a sturdy frame to train you against the fence but I pulled so hard at those delicate limbs of yours that they snapped right into my hands.  So now you have been retrained into a standard tree and I must say you look very straight and proud, no thanks to me.  I’m still waiting for that first fig though but I think you might be punishing me for being so mean to you.

Grape Vine
Grape Vine

 

 

Oh grapevine!  How many times did I threaten to dig you up because of the way you tend to vine and cling to everything that comes your way like something out of a horror movie.  You have Kevin to thank  for that you know and I have to say he was right not to give in to me because you give out the most delicious grapes ever.  Even the birds think so.

 

 
So when I came out to the garden this morning, I was totally overjoyed to see so many blossoms.  It feels like my garden has finally forgiven me!

Yes I made plenty of mistakes in my garden…and I still do occasionally but hopefully not as drastic.  Luckily, trees are very hardy and laugh at people like me.   They seem to have an endless supply of leaves and fruit…how awesome nature is!

 

Caught in Action

 

Baby Beaks
Baby Beaks

I’m still high on adrenalin writing this post.  I went outside to check on Peter and Paul and could see that Mama Bird was not too thrilled to see me there.  She just buzzed around making sure I got the message without taking her eyes off me.

Watching Me Watching You
Watching Me Watching You

So I honored her sentiment and went in the bedroom, camera in hand and shot these pics to share with you…mama bird feeding her babies!!  The photos are not that clear because I had to take them from behind the windows…but you get the picture!

Well Done Mama Bird
Well Done Mama Bird

This all happened within 10 seconds! Just amazing to see!