Yay! Tomatoes!

September Tomatoes!

I’ve been whining all summer about how the lack of sunshine and temperatures that rarely exceeded 65 degrees were preventing my tomatoes from ripening.   But every year,  after the typically cold and foggy Seaside/ Monterey summer comes warm and sunny September,  just like it always does.  All the tomatoes that hung sorrowfully on their vines,  shivering in the gloom,  have all begun to ripen,  each and every one of them.   I grew these tomato vines on the patio,  using those Topsy-Turvy hanging baskets.   I see these things hanging off porches all over town, all of them with dead plants.  I think to make them work you need to do the following things:

  1. Hang your planters in a sunny,  NON-WINDY location.
  2. Use good potting soil.  The roots will eventually fill the entire container and you need good dirt if you want good tomatoes.
  3. Water them everyday.   Every month or so,  add some organic fertilizer.
I used to put the tomatoes out in the regular garden and the vines would over-grow the wire cage resulting in many of the tomatoes rotting on the ground or being eaten by snails.  I didn’t have any of these problems with the Topsy Turvy baskets.  No rot, no snails,  no bugs,  no broken vines,  no hard-to-reach tomatoes… (and no sun,  for three months but I”m rejoicing in the sunshine now!)  I lost a few tomatoes to birds but I am glad to share.

End of “Summer”


What summer?  It barely got above 60 degrees all season but September is coming and we usually have warm weather in September.  Too late for the tomatoes, though. (Edit: No! Not too late at all, it turned out!)  Here’s how things went out in the garden this year:

The Three Sisters Garden:  This was wildly successful,  but I don’t think I’ll plant one next year because it took up too much space.  The pumpkin vines have covered 75% of the the garden patch already and they’re still growing.  While I think there will be at least ten large pumpkins,  I would rather use the space for other vegetables.

The green beans (Kentucky Wonders)  are producing well but because of the profusion of pumpkin vines the beans are difficult to harvest.   What’s more,  the bean vines have completely encircled the corn stalks making it impossible to pick the ears of corn without killing the bean vine.   I am going to have to let the corn dry out on the stalk and give it to the chickens,  I guess.  (“Give it to the chickens” has a nice sound to it. 🙂 )

The second, smaller Three Sisters plot suffered a sneak underground attack from a gopher and some of the plants were killed.  This patch has zucchini instead of pumpkin and I’m getting some nice squash but not too many beans yet.  Same problem with the corn here, too.

Tomatoes:  This year I planted all my tomatoes in those green hanging contraptions that has the tomato plants growing upside down.  The plants grew big and lush with lots of green tomatoes but since we’ve had very little sunshine this summer the tomatoes aren’t ripening very well.    I’ve gotten a few so far for salads.  Better luck next year, I hope!

Cucumbers:  I planted the cucumbers (from seed) in hanging planters and they have done surprisingly well.     The small Persian cukes have produced 2 or 3 a week and the Armenian cukes are starting to get big enough to eat.

Apricots:  This was not a good year for our apricot tree.  It produced lots of green fruit that rotted before it could ripen,  thanks to the dreary summer weather.  The ones that did ripen were delish!

Herbs:  Lots of good herbs this year,  especially mint.   There’s feverfew growing everywhere,  all from those original plants I grew from seed.  I’m think I’m going to have feverfew growing like a weed around here forever!  

Right now there’s a patch of  young iceburg lettuce that’s looking really good.  I’ve also got the usual chard, kale, carrots,  and radish.   These are all doing well, as they thrive in fog.   When the pumpkins are done I plan to replant the whole area with beets, kale and chard.

Despite the cold, clammy weather this was one of my better gardens,  probably because of the compost and the rabbit poop.

Mrs. Rabbit busy manufacturing garden fertilizer

Three Sisters Garden

Three Sisters Garden, still young

This year we planted a Three Sisters Garden:  tall corn in the middle which supports the climbing bean vines which are shaded by the big leaves of squash plants.   We dumped out last winter’s compost heap into two piles and planted the seedlings right on the compost.   For the beans we planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans and for the squash we planted pumpkins.  I started all the plants as seeds on the patio.  This photo is a week old-  things have really taken off,  especially the pumpkin vines.   On the other, smaller compost pile I planted zucchini instead of pumpkins.  That little patch was attacked by some kind of pest and I had to spray the plants with insecticide soap.   This is such an easy type of garden to plant and care for.  I don’t think I have enough corn plants to get good ears of corn because corn needs to grow in a crowd of fellow corn stalks in order to pollinate properly.  But I am very optimistic about the beans and the pumpkins.  Gardens are such a consolation. Thank you, Lord.

Here’s a link to a page that explains the Three Sisters Garden.

Advent is Almost Upon Us

This article explains the Nativity Fast,  which for New Calendar believers begins this Monday,  November 15.   Here’s some guidelines.

This article suggests that the Eastern Orthodox way of celebrating Nativity (Christmas) may prevent the holiday blues.  The idea is that the world is in darkness and a kind of famine until the Light of Christ burst into the world at the Nativity and this famine of spirit is paralleled by a sort of a physical famine of body.

Meanwhile,  I discovered these seaweed snacks!  They are low-calorie, vegan and an addictive alternative to potato chips.  Get ’em at Trader Joe’s.

Today is the 13th day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Today the Church commemorates Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, and Aristobulus of the Seventy.

Pizza & Cinnamon Rolls plus a recommend for Bosch mixers

The photo speaks for itself:  Simple whole wheat crust, using my bread recipe;  bottled spaghetti sauce,  some fake mozzarella cheese,  olives, onions and artichoke hearts.  I made a pan of cinnamon rolls with the left-over dough:

Just roll the dough out into a big rectangle,  spread it with vegan margarine,  sprinkle with a largish amount of brown sugar and cinnamon,   add raisins and/or nuts .  Roll up,  slice,  place slices into greased pan and bake at 350 for maybe half an hour.

All this bread-baking is very easy because I have the most wonderful appliance,  a Bosch mixer.  They are expensive.  I had just inherited some money from an aunt and that’s how I was able to afford it.


This is the 11 day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.  I have fallen behind with both projects!

Today the Church remembers the Monk Avramii (Abraham), Archimandrite of Rostov

Favorite Cookbooks: Oldies But Goodies

All we had for dinner tonight were leftovers so no new recipes to share today.  I thought I’d write some short reviews for older veg*n cookbooks that  younger folks may be unfamiliar with but are still in print.

TEN TALENTS,  by  Frank and Rosalie Hurd. This is an old-timey cookbook put out by a Seventh Day Adventist couple and is the source of two of my favorite recipes,  Cashew Gravy and a spaghetti casserole made with pimento cheese and cashews. I am on my second copy.  You can buy it here.  I can’t vouch for the 7th Day Adventist doctrine but it’s a very good book.

THE FARM VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK. Since the members of the Farm commune grow their own crops,  this small book has a lot of recipes for farm products like corn and soybeans with very little reference to packaged convenience food.    For example,  the lasagna recipe assumes you are planning to make your own lasagna noodles from the year’s wheat crop.  Recipes calling for soy milk assume you are starting from scratch with your own beans.   Nevertheless,  the recipes are still useful and can be easily adapted for less agriculturally-minded people and the book itself is a glimpse into a fascinating sub-culture.  You can buy it here from Amazon.

TOFU COOKERY by Louise Hagler.  I’ve used this book for 25 years.  This book is especially useful for making ordinary food,  like enchiladas, using tofu.  My favorite section is the desert chapter near the end,  especially the cream pies!  Order it from Amazon.

THE NEW MCDOUGALL COOKBOOK is based on the famous McDougall diet,  which is vegan and extremely low-fat.  Years ago I lost considerable weight following this plan but alas,  I also lost my hair.  I do not pretend to be smarter than Dr. McDougall who I admire very much but I think we do need to eat a little fat.  (My hair all grew back when I started putting margarine on my toast and olive oil on my salads.)  But apart from that quibble,  this is a great cookbook and has some especially nice soup recipes.  You can order it from Dr. McDougall’s web site.

Today is the 6th day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.
Remember to set your clocks back tonight!

Today is the day the Church commemorates  the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

I am not Vietnamese but my favorite restaurant here in Seaside is the Noodle Bar,  a Vietnamese lunch counter.  I always order the vegetarian spring rolls that come with a tasty peanut dipping sauce.  I like them so much I make a pretty good facsimile of them myself.

For the rolls:

A package of spring roll wrappers (rice paper),  like this:

A head of lettuce (doesn’t matter what kind). Separate, wash and pat the leaves dry.
Some thin pasta,  boiled and drained.  (All kinds of possibilities but it must be thin.)
A bunch of green onions,  sliced.
A big carrot,  shredded
A cup or so of tofu,  crumbled and sauteed.  (Or any meat substitute of your choice.)
A bunch of fresh cilantro.  (You may also include fresh mint and fresh basil.)

Optional (for me, at least):  Bean sprouts.   I generally leave these out.


Soak one wrapper in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds until softened but not disintegrated.  Place it on a plate.
Place a lettuce leaf in the center of the wrapper,   maybe a little closer to the bottom
Place a handful of the noodles on the lettuce.
Top with the carrot,  onion,  tofu and a leaf or two of cilantro.
Carefully roll it up,   starting from the bottom,  flapping over the two sides and sealing the top flap.  Make sure it’s tight!
The roll will tend to stay rolled up because the rice paper is quite sticky.

Here’s a video  I found on YouTube demonstrating how to roll them up.  Warning:  meat is used in the demo.

The peanut dipping sauce:

In a small sauce pan combine:

2/3 cup natural peanut butter,  either smooth or crunchy
1 cup of hot water
2  tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 minced cloves of garlic (don’t use garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Stir over medium heat until thick.   If it’s too thick to use as a dipping sauce,  add more water.

The rolls are served cold.

This is the 5th day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Today the Church remembers the Apostle James,  the brother of the Lord.

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