Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2019

My Italian Father and His Garden...

If you're Italian or grew up Italian American with strong Italian traditions than that would mean someone in your family has an Italian garden. The garden that you grew up knowing with tons of tomato plants, eggplant, basil, zucchini, (from which you got your zucchini flowers to make fritelle) and so on.. what didn't the Italian garden have?

In my case, you were the kid who went to school bragging about your father's garden and how you ate fresh vegetables or how you made tomato sauce at the end of the summer with the tomatoes from your garden. My mother would always prepare nightly dinner in the summers with all fresh vegetables right out of the garden, now a days this is called "GREEN" or "ORGANIC." Who knew my mother and father had me living so green conscious and organic from an early age, to me it was just normal. It still is. So when people talk about starting a herb garden, I kind of snicker not because it's funny, but because I laugh to myself about how lucky I am that I grew up with such a vast knowledge of agriculture, good food, great cooking and always understanding the quality of what you eat.

My father still grows tons of tomato plants as you can see from the photo above and we do in fact make our sauce with those tomatoes from the garden, which lasts the whole winter. It's a tradition we preserved as Italian Americans-- my brothers, sister and myself hold this to be very sacred and consider ourselves extremely fortunate to know how to bottle the sauce in jars. Not only are we making our own sauce, but we've learned to cultivate fruit trees, such as peach trees, which we make our own jam and pies. We know my father is the garden guru, he has neighbors and strangers just stopping in his yard nightly just to ask him questions about how to grow the best garden. Not only does he give advice, but he's giving away plants too, better yet he comes to your yard and plants it for you. It gives him immense pleasure to see others succeed in gardening. No one like my father, that is for sure. So, if you were thinking of actually starting that garden, stop thinking and just do it - there is something extremely therapeutic to gardening and not only that, but it's preserving a very important tradition in our Italian American culture.

** Update my father is now 89 years old and is preparing his seeds for this summer's garden. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Italian Garden 2015

My father's garden and fruit trees this year. #Italianamerican #italiangarden #Garden

Posted by Italian American Girl on Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

End of Summer Recipe - Italian Organic Tomato Salad - Basil, Scallions, Olive Oil

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Italian Americans Growing Figs..Tis the Season.

The Fall in America is one of the best times for outside activities, but as an Italian American its the time of year when we expect our figs and start thinking about making wine. Here as you see my father has been growing his fig tree for years its loaded with figs every year and the actual figs are incredibly sweet. As soon as the figs bloom and ripen the tree will begin to lose it leaves as the cold weather approaches, then my father covers and wraps the tree in a tarp keeping it protected from the harsh winter weather. We live on the East coast and as you can imagine its not Italy, so growing anything is a challenge with our extreme humidity and cold. I will say, the figs are delicious. Now, if we live in Italy the figs are in abundance and we could actually make a variety of delicious foods based from the figs, such as our famous Christmas cookies, Petrali which are filled with figs. Next agriculture update will be talking about our next Fall activity which will be making wine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Italian Americans Get Ready..Its That Time of Year Again..Time to Make Jars of Sauce...

Well, here we are again, tomato season is in full swing. This year I've heard many people talk about bad luck with their tomato crops due to a statewide (New Jersey) tomato blight. I am happy to report my father's garden escaped this problem and is now producing tons of tomatoes. With every year we grow tomatoes, we jar our tomatoes and make sauce for the upcoming winter months. This is a very old tradition but this is actually a trendy and an economic thing to do. It could save you money on sauce during the year and really you know where your sauce is coming from, an organic trend.

In making the jars of sauce, every Italian has their own method. So, for me to sit here and tell you the way we do it is the way to do it would be incorrect. I'm going to share our way anyway. Our method of making the jars starts with planning. Look, I have to be honest with you, many people go out and buy the works to make the jars of sauce, but in my family we truly are old school with the processes. My parents collect their jars throughout the year, so we don't do the typical mason jars, like many people usually do. Those bottles then get super sanitized before we even begin. This is key.

-We collect the tomatoes and select the best/ripest ones.
-We cut stems, weird skin, or dark areas out.
-We leave seeds and sometimes not (depends on whose in charge in that day and their preference, seriously--some think seeds make the sauce bitter..but honestly I never noticed the difference. You have to know how to make the sauce regardless for it taste good.)
-Then we actually pack the jars with the tomatoes raw cut into pieces with basil leaves on the bottom and top.
-Be sure to release all air bubbles along the sides of the jar. Use a knife to poke down and even out on the bottom.
-Then we place the lids on the jars just making sure there is enough grip not tight, because you want the air to be released as you start to boil.
-The jars are then placed in a massive pot with the water level at the necks of the bottle.
-Be sure to also put for example a dish towel in between the bottles, so they don't touch. If they touch, sometimes the heat and pressure causes cracking. (Again, this is our method, you might think its crazy or not the norm..but this is how it goes down at my house.)
-The jars are then left to boil for about 25/30 minutes, you should have a boil going.
-After your boil you should then shut off the stove and leave the jars in the pot to slowly cool. As they cool you will hear the air releasing the jars.
-As the jars are correctly cooling you will begin to hear the jar tops popping, which means the air is released and suctioned properly back in leaving no room for air.
-After the cool down and popping has come to a head, you can then take the jars out of the cool water and leave on the counter to settle. We usually leave them out for a few days.

So there it is folks, making jars of sauce from your garden tomatoes. I hope this gives you a better idea on the process. Every family has their own way, some better than others and more elaborate. But again, I will reiterate, this is our method and I invited you to share yours.

If you want other sources on making sauce for jars, here are a few:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Italian American Cooking--The Finished Product: Fritelle, Zucchini Blossoms

You've seen the latest video on my father's Italian garden and the zucchini blossoms in full. Now starts the season of endless nights of frying up fritelle, which no one can refuse. Literally.

Not because she's my mother but my mother can make the best fritelle this side of the Atlantic, cause my Aunt's and cousins in Italy are supreme chefs when its comes to Italian cooking.

Here's a glimpse of tonight's fritelle.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Figs in the morning, figs at night....figs, figs, figs!!!

I will say yes, I love figs but like I was in fritelli hell..Ive now graduated seasons and have entered into fig season. The fig is like the most prized possession for my father. He grew a fig tree in his backyard, which is now not such a small tree. This fig tree is now producing tons of figs of which he meticulously nurtured one by one. By that I mean, there is a trick in getting your figs not to bust at the bottom so they can fully grow. My father takes olive oil and rubs each bottom of the fig so they dont crack. I mean this in an all morning event. The man has patience.

He loves his tree so much that like many other Italian Americans who try to keep their figs trees from dying in winter, he wraps it up like a mummy and neighbors would ask,"what does your father have wrapped up in the backyard standing straight up..?" The awkward answer, 'its a fig tree and you have to wrap up it all mummy-ish so it can survive the winter..yada yada yada. Most of the time their like...'oh that's so interesting.' But you know they're like those I-talians do such strange things.

So, now every time you walk in the door, you're offered a fig..and even on the way out. The other day, this is a true father says to my brother, "wanta figa?" my brother says, "no, not right now," then my father gets pissy because he wants him to try the fig and say 'wow, that's a great fig.' There's always a reason for my father's antics. So, again, 'you wanta figa?" My brother, "papa, no, I said I don't want one right now." My father, "why?" My brother, "because"
My father, "come on-whats the big deal, just try!" My brother "OMG, you are relentless!!!, ok I'll have it." My brother eats one looks at me and says, "damn, they're good." I just look at him and laugh. My father just looks over like with a pompous grin and says "see --I tell you." Got to love it. We were laughing our asses off. My father the 'figa' guy.