We have had the most incredible garden treats from Azalea Inn and our tomato harvest has inspired our favorite (so far) WOW recipe: Tomato Jam. I picked the last of our cherry and yellow pear tomatoes to be turned into our infamous Tomato Jam. We plan to serve the Jam on Rosemary shortbread at next week’s wine and appetizer hour. As you can see from the impish faces of Kolin and Courtney, we love our tomatoes! I am not sure how many of the garden harvested tomatoes made it into the jam, but there was enough for two more canning jars of our oft-requested jam recipe (compliments of Bon Appetite, April 2010).
The recipe itself calls for 5 large tomatoes but we have a plethora of the cherry and tiny yellow pear tomatoes and found that they worked as well, if not better, with the two-tone color. We did not skin these tomatoes as the recipe calls for, instead squeezing the seeds out whole and tossing into the saucepan, no boiling first necessary.
2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 large)
2 cups granulated sugar
Generous pinch of salt
Generous pinch of ground cayenne pepper
2 or 3 grinds of black pepper
2 or 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, cut out the stem end of each tomato, then slice a shallow X in the bottom. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water until their skins loosen, about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, slip off the tomato skins. Discard the water, but save the saucepan for cooking the jam. Halve the tomatoes crosswise and gently squeeze out the seeds and juice. Chop the tomatoes into 1/3-inch pieces.
Return the tomatoes to the saucepan; stir in the sugar, salt, and peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure that the mixture is cooking evenly but not burning, until most of the liquid has evaporated. If foam occasionally rises to the top, skim it off with a large spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice to taste.
Ladle the jam into sterilized jars. Cover tightly, let cool, and refrigerate. The jam will keep for at least 6 months refrigerated, though it has not lasted that long at the inn!
“Sufferin’ Succotash!” was the catch phrase of Sylvester the Cat, a Looney Tunes character from my childhood. Actually, he lisped “Thufferin Thuccotash” often in his quest to capture “Tweety Bird” of “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat” fame. So what does that have to do with Azalea Inn and Gardens? Well, our Garden’s bounty is overflowing with cherry tomatoes, green peppers, yellow and purple bush beans, eggplant and okra right now and the garden pickings were the inspiration for our take on a Deep South favorite – Succotash.
Jake has always loved the okra and tomatoes served at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House and he cajoled me into doing “something” with all the tomatoes and the just perfect sized okra. He said he would take it any way I fixed it and I am partial to the combination of baby limas, corn, tomatoes and okra, so… why not add whatever the garden was offering up?
Throwing a few slices of bacon into the skillet to render, I set about chopping a medium onion and two cloves of garlic, seeded and chopped a small jalapeno, then ran down to the garden to pick okra, tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplant to throw into the mix. While the onion softened in the bacon rendering, I sliced the okra, chopped one green pepper and one tiny eggplant to add to the cornucopia of veggies to come and ran back down to the garden to finish off the crop of beans. Once the onions were softened and the garlic lightly browned, I threw in a bag of frozen corn (eh-gads, its okay!), and bag of frozen baby limas. Next came the cherry tomatoes, okra, green pepper and eggplant, threw in the bush beans snipped and cut in half and gently cooked the conconction for about 7 to 10 minutes. Taste tests indicated a need for salt and pepper and with a small chiffonade of basil sprinkled on top, we were ready to eat! Served along side a simply grilled rib-eye steak it was easy to get Jake to commit to another 9 years with me!
I grew up in a large family, so it was no surprise that I had leftovers – lots of leftovers. This morning I added a bit of raspberry wine vinegar to the succotash and with Jake’s tastebuds declaring it a winner have incorporated it into tonight’s appetizers which our guests will enjoy – served cold on chips – a Salsa Succotash.
Azalea Inn and Gardens takes the locavore route to all things served at the inn – join us this summer for a taste of home-grown cantaloupe and Galia melons, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes served a dozen ways and the refreshing courtyard pool with waterfall creating a perfect respite in the warmth of a Savannah summer. Book online or call us at 800-582-3823 today to reserve your spot at our “farm table” in historic Savannah, Georgia’s best bed and breakfast!
Guests and Savannah’s SAFE Shelter benefit from this downtown Savannah Inn’s harvest
Savannah, GA – Azalea Inn & Gardens brings on the greens and encourages you to leave the blues behind. Who’d imagine an inn located in a quiet historic urban neighborhood in Savannah, GA would support their own mini-farm? But with astute planning from Adam Mentzer, passionate local farmer and owner of Adam’s Farm, the bounty is blooming at Azalea Inn and Gardens. Knowing that her mini-farm would produce beyond the needs of the guests, Azalea Inn & Gardens owner, Teresa Jacobson, set out to find a place where needy recipients could benefit from the garden. Having had friends benefit from the help of shelters for abused victims, Jacobson settled on the Savannah Area Family Emergency (SAFE) Shelter for abused people to receive produce from her garden. Today, both Mentzer and Jacobson are supplying the shelter’s clients with excess fresh-grown food from their garden while teaching graduates of the SAFE Shelter program how a small-space garden can produce big benefits.
The Azalea Inn & Gardens has a long history of gardening fame. Their award-winning flower gardens have received media accolades for years. Yet never one to settle for status quo, Teresa Jacobson decided she wanted a bigger garden in 2011 when she was motivated by a “Meet Your Maker” dinner (where local artisans’ and growers’ produce, cheeses, meats were showcased.) It was here she made the acquaintance of local farmer Adam Mentzer, and soon the concept of the Azalea Inn mini-farm developed. While skeptical at first at what could be accomplished on a small lot in downtown Savannah, Mentzer refused to be daunted, knowing raised beds and container gardens could produce plenty. What followed was phenomenal: [nggallery id=20]
The list of varieties of herbs and produce growing in the mini-farm is astounding. Careful planning has allowed a long list of varieties to be grown, the likes of which you’d expect to find on a ten acre rural Georgia farm, including:
Hybrid Squash 8-Ball Hybrid Melon Galia Hybrid Melon Athena
Gourd Cucuzzi Snake Tomato Amana Orange Hybrid Tomato Supersweet
Okra Clemson Spineless Gourd Dipper Long Handled Hybrid Cucumber Tasty Green
Hybrid Tomato Morning Light Hybrid Tomato Brandymaster Pink
Tomato Cherokee Purple Hybrid Pepper Anastar Hybrid Pepper Aristocrat
Hybrid Zucchini Squash Kentucky Blue Pole Bean Yellow Bush Bean
Purple Bush Bean Fennel Zefa Fino Swiss Chard Magenta Sunset
Arugula Daikon Radish Miyashige Hybrid Turnip Scarlet Queen Red Stems
Greens Mache Strawberries Sequoia Strawberries Quinalt
Eggplant Black Beauty Eggplant Ichiban
Rosemary Oregano Stevia
Texas Terragon Onion Chives Lemon Balm
Curled Parsley Cilantro Potpourri Lavender
Spearmint Peppermint Rosemary
Fernleaf Dill Spicy Globe basil Thai Basil
Lemon Basil Opal Basil Sweet Basil
“I’m not sure what I’m more excited about,” smiled Teresa Jacobson when asked about the new mini-farm, “all of this glorious produce and herbs, my new partnership with Adam or being able to offer those who’ve had to leave everything behind the taste of freshness from my garden,” finished Jacobson. The response from the SAFE Shelter staff and clients has included an outpouring of gratitude.
While the focus has always been on locavore cuisine at the Azalea Inn & Gardens, the new mini-farm will bring the property even closer to a totally sustainable model. Food scraps will be composted in 80-gallon Earth Machine compost bins and rainwater for watering plants is collected in 55 gallon cisterns, allowing nature’s bounty to be reused to create healthier plants and a healthier planet. Additionally, low-volume irrigation and low volume water baths are utilized outside and in. At Azalea Inn, Earth Day is every day.
Inside, cotton/bamboo blend towels delight guests with their soft and eco-friendly texture. All lighting utilizes energy-saving CFL bulbs and plastic bottles for bath amenities have been replaced with dispensers for high quality eco-friendly shampoos, shower gels and conditioners. Guests are given the option to re-use towels to cut down on unnecessary detergents and energy use and as many papers and plastics as possible are recycled.
The décor of the inn emphasizes nature, and rooms have been designed to allow as much natural light as possible. Most rooms feature private balconies or patios allowing guests to “bring the outdoors in”.
About Azalea Inn
Deliciously relaxing and lighthearted, the Azalea Inn and Gardens is a casually elegant Savannah bed and breakfast mansion offering vintage and award-winning gardens and its new mini-farm, historic 19th century architecture (complete with soulful imperfections) and a scrumptious, new and traditional southern cuisine breakfast. A hidden garden courtyard pool, modern comforts and free on-site parking sets Azalea Inn & Gardens apart and makes staying here easy and relaxing. Located in the Historic Landmark District of Savannah on brick-cobbled Huntingdon Street near Forsyth Park (Savannah’s central park), the inn’s atmosphere is characterized by fun, with an adventurous and decidedly eco-friendly focus. Yet the ultimate allure of this daffodil-colored Queen Anne Italianate inn is its owner’s 21st century, whimsical and outgoing personality. You’ll arrive ready for a break and leave with a new great friend.
For those seeking a green urban refuge, the Azalea Inn & Gardens is a delight. Learn more at www.azaleainn.com.
These and other photos available in high-res from Azalea Inn. Misty DeBlasio photos
What an exciting concept – a small Savannah inn cultivates a Garden of Eating! The same historic bed and breakfast that began a recycling program two years before the city did is breaking new grounds – literally. Azalea Inn and Gardens has teamed up with local farmer, Adam Mentzer of Adam’s Farm to develop a high-yield square-foot garden in the urban locale of historic Savannah’s former garden district. In the 2005 commissioned research of 217 E. Huntingdon Street it was discovered that the grounds on which our Inn is located were once part of the original 5-acre garden plots given to each new settler in James Oglethorpe’s Savannah colony.
Several consultations later, Adam presented the innkeepers with a design, a budget and a plan. Construction began on March 5, compost was hauled in on March 18 and planting commenced on March 24. Jake designed and installed the irrigation system over the course of those few weeks and completed the installation and hook-up on April 9. The garden is springing to life with seeded crop pushing leaves through the soil and seedlings taking hold and growing.
We opted for a variety of produce to grace the raised beds installed throughout the small plot area choosing many varieties of tomato (Brandymaster Pink, Morning Light yellow, Cherokee Purple, Amana Orange and Supersweets), members of the squash family (cucumber, gourd Cucuzzi snake, 8-Ball Squash, Zucchini, and two forms of eggplant), the melon family (Galia, Athena, and other curcurbits), peppers including Aristocrat and Anastar along with Ancients, several beans (Kentucky blue pole and purple and yellow bush beans) and a variety of root crop from scarlet queen red turnips to fennel and carrots and potatoes.
We also threw in some strawberry varieties for good measure and a bed dedicated to herbs. Finally, a customer of Jake’s, a blueberry farmer, had given us four plants and we were pleased to see they were beginning to put forth fruit.
We are excited to see how our garden grows and the delight we anticipate in the eyes and on the palates of our guests as they enjoy the bounty of “Our Garden of Eating” at our inn.
Jake and I finally moved into the apartment in the house next door in early March. The entire back yard was a neglected child with tangled hair and dirty features – that is, overgrown bushes, patchy grass and dirt, and too-many-to-count small oak tree sprouts. Jake’s eye had that gleam again, the one I hadn’t seen since we finished the gardens surrounding the inn. My sons have jokingly stated that whenever Jake finishes a garden he starts to look around for a new home. Apparently that’s pretty close to the truth.
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