Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 132 - What to do with a lot of parsley, part deux

And so, three Aerogardens are down to one now. The holiday Aerogarden unit is on Day 132, and still living on the top shelf.

The harvest for the flank steak made the unit look a little more orderly, and it was time to find another recipe that used a heck of a lot of parsley. I want back to AllRecipes and looked for another recipe that used a big chunk of fresh parsley. I found a great recipe for meatloaf that once again used a whole 1/2 cup of chopped parsley.

Once again, I harvested and chopped:

The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. Feeling in a "do it yourself" mood, I decided to bake a fresh loaf of bread...

...with the sole intent of using my Kitchenaid to grate fresh breadcrumbs.

The recipe was easy enough. Sautee carrot and onion and add the mixture to a mixture of garlic, parsley, ketchup, bread crumbs, eggs, and ground beef. The results was a wonderfully gooey hunk of meat that I shaped into a loaf.

As with all meatloafs, it looked beautiful coming out of the oven, especially with a slab of tomato sauce poured over the top and let to seep in.

The recipe was admittedly a wee bit bland (needed salt), but nothing a good squirt of ketchup couldn't fix.
I'd say there's one more harvest of parsley in the ol' Holiday Herb Aerogarden and then we'll hang it up for a while.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 190 / Day 125 - A harvest of tomatoes

Well, it's come down to this for the Tomato Aerogarden. I did one gigantic harvest of all the remaining tomatoes on the Aerogarden unit.

Had it not been for the critters, I probably would have bought a few more nutrient tablets and continued to harvest tomatoes. But for now, I'm content with this bountiful harvest.

Now, the question I had to ask myself was, what do I do with these? I did the salad thing, and I did the BLT thing. What next?

If you recall some early blogs, one of my dreams was to make my own homemade tomato sauce. Of course, when I wrote that I foresaw having bushels and bushels of tomatoes. But I wasn't about to let the fact that I only have 21 little cherry tomatoes deter me from this dream.
I put the tomatoes in a mini food processor.


The blended tomatoes certainly smelled like very fresh tomatoes. I then improvised, tossing in a bunch of herbs and spices. Among other things, I used fresh basil from my potted basil plants, the remainder of the fresh oregano from the Aerogarden, and the usual suspects of garlic, salt, sugar, and olive oil.

After a bit more whirring, I put the contents into a little saucepan and simmered it down until it was chunky.

I added more random spices from the cupboard, and then tossed it with a little fresh Italian pasta.

How did it taste? It was definitely fresh, and I think the fact that it took half a year to make made it all the more satisfying.

All in all, I'd say the Tomato Aerogarden fell a bit short of what I'd hoped. It was cool growing tomatoes in the house, of course, but at the end of the day I think the Aerogardens are more suited for herbs like parsley and basil. While at the end, the tomatoes started to finally grow prolifically, it took way too long to get to that point and the fact that it looks like it was the tomato leaves that attracted the whiteflies will make me think twice about getting this seed kit again. Put another way, the next time I grow a tomato garden, I hope I'll be able to do it in a yard.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 182 / Day 117 - How to use up a whole lot of parsley

On January 10, my Holiday Herb Aerogarden looked like this. The oregano had grown back a little, the thyme was hanging in there, but the parsley was going crazy.

My goal at this point was to use up the parsley. My plan for now is to retire both the tomato Aerogarden and the Holiday Herb Aerogarden. Then I'd take a little break from the Aerogardening to give time for the remaining whiteflies to disappear. (Don't worry, I'll be back with new Aerogardens soon enough!)

Anyway, I had a TON of parsley to use up. So, I scoured the Web to find recipes that used parsley. A LOT of parsley.

I went to my favorite site, AllRecipes.Com, and found a recipe for Parsley-Stuffed Flank Steak. The ingredients were simple enough--flank steak, Romano cheese, garlic, and parsley. I went to the supermarket and bought me a big ol' flank steak (which had a big ol' price tag). The rest of the stuff I had already.

I started by cutting some parsley from the Aerogarden, estimating how much I'd need for 1/2 cup. Happily, the critters didn't seem to care for the taste, so they were clean. I washed them anyway, and put them on the cutting board.

Then, I chopped them. As you can guess, I had a bit more than 1/2 cup.

The next step was stuffing the flank steak. Now, I've never stuffed a flank steak before, but it seemed simple enough. Sprinkle on the parsley, then the cheese, then the garlic, roll it up, and then wrap it all in foil.

Here's how it came out. In retrospect, I probably should have cut the meat thinner, but it didn't matter, because it was amazing. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the ones that turn out the nicest.