My First Tomato!

The First, Juicy, Red Tomato From My Organic Container Gardens

The First, Juicy, Red Tomato From My Organic Container Gardens

I’ve finally harvested my first batch of exactly four tomatoes from my container gardens.  The one pictured above was delicious and bright, juicy, red all the way through.  Aside from a few minor obstacles that were remedied pretty easily, including mule deer, aphids and cabbage worms, my baptism into vegetable gardening has been pretty successful.  Of course, this doesn’t count all the seeds that never sprouted or the few seedlings that didn’t make it past the first few hot days we had here but, oh well.

Southern, Coastal California is perfect for growing just about anything.  Especially here on Catalina Island, it never gets too hot, too cold or too dry (humidity-wise that is – we can go months without seeing a drop of rain).

I found a great organic, vegetable oil based pesticide that took care of the aphids and cabbage worms.  Pesticidal Oil by Worry Free Brand is what I used though it seems recently, that there are quite a few brands to choose from, which is great.  I rinsed the leaves and fruit well with water, then gave them a light misting with the oil after they had dried.  I had to re-apply once or twice more but it seemed to have done the trick.  The only drawback I’ve seen so far is that the tomatoes were just a bit sticky even after rinsing well with water but it doesn’t seem to have effected the taste.  I probably put too much oil on in the first place.

The mule deer on the island are really desperate for food considering the dry winter we had.  They even climb one flight of stairs on an almost nightly basis to get to our property and yummy plants.  At one point they were knocking large ceramic planters over and even breaking a couple in their early morning forays for food (usually around 4am).  I finally put deer netting up over all our plants including the shrubbery and they’ve pretty much given up for the time being.

I feel so bad for the poor deer since they’re probably starving to death but I know that feeding them is not the right thing to do.  We have a hunting season on the island but I’m not sure how I feel about that as a solution to the problem either.  I suppose if the hunters eat the deer they kill it’s okay, even though I’ve chosen to not eat any animal based foods myself.  Actually, if you’re going to eat meat, killing the animal yourself is probably the most humane way to go about it.

How To Make An Awesome Veggie Burger From Juicer Pulp (Among Other Things)

Easy Vegan Black Bean and Juicer Pulp Veggie Burger Recipe

Easy Vegan Black Bean and Juicer Pulp Veggie Burger Recipe

(Here are links to the first two posts on this subject)

Juicing – Healthy and Great Tasting! – 1/29/2013

What To Do With Juicer Vegetable Pulp – 2/9/13

Note:  The following recipe was created for juicer machine pulp but I think it would be a great recipe on its own with one or two substitutions that are suggested in the recipe – so if you don’t have a juicer – read on.

My veggie burger, juicer pulp journey has taken some interesting turns since last I posted.  I’ve learned a lot about the basics of cooking which,  if you’ve read my other posts on this subject, you’re already aware, that I’ve never been a big fan of cooking or even eating for that matter.  On March 1st I celebrated my one year anniversary of giving up all animal based products in my diet.  I have to admit that over the holidays I did cheat a bit and have some cookies here and there that I’m sure were made with dairy products but that was about it.  I even gave up one of my favorite appetizers, crackers and brie cheese.  I watched everyone else eating it and I was surprisingly satisfied with corn chips with salsa and a few other vegan dishes.

So, to update those who are just joining us, I’d asked for a Jack LaLane juicer for Christmas thinking it would give me a really easy way to get the nutrients I needed without cooking.  Well, this was true to a point but juicer pulp was just not something I’d considered.  I’m not sure what I thought would happen to the remainder of the fruits and vegetables after the juice was extracted  but it turns out that there’s quite a bit of pulp leftover.  My problem was, what I would do with it, as throwing it away or even composting was out of the question.

As of my last post I’d found a somewhat clumsy way of separating the vegetable and fruit pulps, when I discovered, by accident, that veggie pulp tasted pretty horrendous on oatmeal.  Well, I’ve backtracked quite a bit on that idea.  I’m no longer separating anything since the new veggie burger recipe I’ve finally perfected (very subjectively speaking) tastes great with either fruit, vegetable or mixed pulp.  I still use mostly veggie pulp in my humus spread recipe but you can toss just about anything (within the context of juicing, of course) into the veggie burger mix.

My first few veggie burger attempts turned out not so well.  I won’t repeat what my husband said when he tried one.  But through a lot of experimentation and many failures, I think I’ve finally come up with something that’s not too bad!  I actually like them but there are no guarantees to anyone with a finely tuned culinary palate.

So, without further ado…the recipe:

Vegan Black Bean and Juicer Pulp Veggie Burger

Makes about six patties.

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 16oz can black beans – well-drained and about the same volume of fruit &/or veggie juicer pulp.  In lieu of juicer pulp, the same volume of lentils or blended chick peas would work.  You can also experiment with spinach and broccoli or other veggies and fruits chopped finely in a food processor.  This portion of the recipe is a wild card.  Have fun with it!

1/2 medium-sized red onion – minced or chopped

2 tsp parsley (dried or fresh)

1 – 1.5 tsp salt

1.5 tsp chili powder

1.5 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 cup (approximate) fine bread crumbs or flour

Drain the black beans well and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Use a potato masher to turn the beans to a paste-like consistency but still with some whole or partially intact beans.  Next add the juicer pulp and use a rubber scraper to mix the beans and pulp thoroughly.  Now add the olive oil and remainder of ingredients.  Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.  Begin adding the bread crumbs or flour until you can make a ball with the batter in your hands and no liquid  seeps through your fingers.  Make a patty with the mixture and flatten consistently (be sure it isn’t thicker in the center).  At this point I grill the patties on my George Foreman Grill for about ten minutes but you can fry them in a pan with olive oil.  The latter method is obviously higher in fat if that’s a consideration.  It’s very important that the burgers are grilled thoroughly or the centers will be very mushy and unappetising.  I leave them on until the grill lines are really dark brown but not burned.

I usually make a batch or two and refrigerate them.  I throw them in the microwave at work then add spinach, ketchup, yellow mustard and a little tahini.  Yum!

If any real cooks out there have suggestions for improvement, I welcome them!  Bon Appetit!