Sunday, November 21, 2010

After the Frost

Don't forget, Ontario residents - enter to win a Gay Lea baking basket of goodies worth $60! Deadline is midnight tonight!

Well, we had our first "major" frost snap last night - not surprising, seeing as it's mid-November now, but stil a little bit of a depressing sign that all too soon that "white stuff" will be sticking around for a while. Our grass is back to it's dead brown blah-ness and our vegetable garden is bare - I picked all the remaining tomatoes (even the green ones) a few weeks ago and it's been far too late in the season for the plants to even think about doing anything but "kicking the bucket", so to speak.

But what was I then to do with all those "reject" tomatoes that didn't get their butts in gear fast enough to mature? I'd already done jars and jars of mincemeat, enough to last my dad (the only real mincemeat fan) for years. Then again, I did have a ton of apples still hanging around from our orchard trip, and some way-too-hard green pears that for some reason would not soften up. So what the heck - pie filling it is.

The mixture of apples and pears with the tomatoes is anything but mincemeat, however. There's no dried fruit, not that much spicing, and instead of the bitter-sweet molasses there's luxurious honey and light brown sugar. In truth, the whole thing tastes like Fall - not really "apple", not really "pear", certainly not "tomato". Just Fall. And like my favourite season, it's just as variable, and just as good! For those of you already in a Christmas frame of mind (!), decorated jars of the filling make gorgeous Christmas gifts too - that is, if you don't use it yourself!

Three Greens Pie Filling
Makes 6 cups (3 pints), Nutrition Information is per cup
1.5 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
7 large, green apples, peeled and chopped
3 large, green pears, chopped
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 3 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tbsp apple pie spice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cook, stirring often, for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes, or freeze.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 479.0
Total Fat: 1.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 37.6 mg
Total Carbs: 143.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.6 g
Protein: 2.5 g

Then of course, I had a bunch of other tomatoes - you know, the ones that are half-ripe, or too small for much use, or that you just can't get through? Yeah, those ones. So rather than turn those into next year's compost (we don't even have a compost heap, but the government apparently does...), I did what I know how to do: bake the suckers into something yummy. Working off of one of my church cookbook's recipes for green tomato and carrot "cake" muffins, I just used the tomatoes I had, tossing in some trail mix I found lurking in the pantry for a bit of crunch. I renamed them "animater" muffins - as in "any-'mater"... get it? Yeah okay, it's cheesy. But call 'em what you want, they're worth breaking out a bowl and spoon for!

Animater Muffins
Makes 20
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
3 oz butter, softened
2/3 cup Demerara sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (do try to get some unripe ones in though)
2/3 cup blueberry trail mix (mine had a mixture of dried blueberries, dried apples, pepitas, raisins, walnuts and peanuts)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease or line 20 muffin cups.
  2. In a small dish, whisk together flaxseed and hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice. Set aside.
  4. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl.
  5. Add flaxseed mixture, vanilla and maple syrup, beating well.
  6. Add half the flour mixture, followed by the almond milk and tomatoes, then add remaining flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  7. Fold in the trail mix.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes.
  9. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 132.4
Total Fat: 5.5 g
Cholesterol: 9.1 mg
Sodium: 60.5 mg
Total Carbs: 22.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 2.6 g