Monday, September 10, 2012

Tomato Derivatives

My parents filled in their pool a few years ago. Replacing the diving board and cool oasis my kids loved so much is an expansive vegetable garden. My mom is really into her garden. She's so into gardening that she emails me and my brother gardening tips she finds online.

Don't get me wrong -- we like it and we benefit from it. There's something gratifying about planting seeds, caring for them, watching them grow and then pulling your accomplishments from the dirt and consuming them. We have such a temperate climate here in California that we can grow a huge variety of edibles.

My parents are away all month and left the garden's bounty to me and my brother. I'm not sure what prompted my mom to plant as much as she did knowing they'd be away.

On Saturday, after two soccer games and a big lunch, the youngest Pinks and I did some harvesting.

Here's what we picked in an hour. And we barely touched the cherry tomatoes. They are my least favorite and we just ran out of steam. I'll go back next weekend and then do a drop off at the local food bank. Not even two tomato-loving families can eat so many tomatoes.

I roasted a big pan of San Marzano's in olive oil and Kosher salt and inhaled them for dinner. The way I make them turns them into tomato chips. I like them blackened because all the crispy bits turn sweet.

Then Sunday morning we headed to a friend's for a sauce and salsa making session. My friend has canning equipment and I enjoyed learning how it is used. She also has a food strainer, which takes far less time than my score, boil, ice bath, peel and blend method of turning whole tomatoes into puree for sauce.

Thing 1 really likes cooking so she was a huge help in that area. All that chopping is tedious. I'd never roasted chiles on the stovetop before so that was an adventure. It's a lot of work charring those babies then scraping the char off, the seeds out and then dicing, all the while wearing gloves.

It's shocking how little 30 lbs of tomatoes reduced down to. But we'll enjoy those tomatoes long into the winter. And so will my parents, whose pantry and freezer I am slowly filling with mason jarred tomato products.

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