Thursday, October 11, 2007

Uh, don’t worry. I have this completely under control.

It may look like the scene of a brutal crime, but the only victims here were 45 pounds of tomatoes that I diligently cored, sliced, boiled, ground, and strained into tomato sauce on Sunday. The morning started early with a trip to the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market to pick up my CSA box from J.R. Organics. The tomatoes in the stand were gorgeous, plump, and deep red. I couldn’t help myself, and Joe Rodriguez kindly climbed into his truck and pulled out 50 pounds worth for me. And then the basket of pickling cucumbers, so crisp and green, just calling out to be doused in vinegar, sugar, and pickling spices. A vision of the seven pint size jars sitting unused on the floor of my dining room was all it took to have me packing up 10 pounds worth. So there I stood, 50 pounds of tomatoes, 10 pounds of cucumbers, a very large rubbermaid full of our weekly CSA allottment, and three blocks from my car. This was not well planned. Thankfully, the J.R. Organics stand backs up to the road, so I left it all in their capable hands and came back with my car. They loaded it all up for me (the unloading at home, unfortunately, was all by myself), even placing plastic on the seats to keep the boxes from soiling the uphoulstry. What service!
There was no convincing Brian to help this time around. He walked into the kitchen, saw this mess (if only the lens could have included the whole kitchen), and immediately went back to the football game on television. Even Ella the cat wanted nothing to do with it. I, on the other hand, equipped with apron and confidence from my first canning success, boldly proceeded.

TEN HOURS later (and positively spattered with tomato guts) I finally removed the sauce from the saucepan and loaded it into the fridge. Apparently, it takes a long time for 45 pounds of tomato puree to boil down to half its original consistency. The actually canning had to wait until Monday after I got home from work. I put the tomato sauce onto the stove to warm up again and prepared my canning tools: enormous saucepan, rack, jar lifter, wide-mouth funnel, spatula, and magnetic lid grabber (I bought it all as a kit that can be purchased here). There were, unfortunately, little flecks of burned sauce throughout, likely caused by my last ditch effort on Sunday night to boil the sauce down more quickly (it still tasted the same, so maybe I'm just paranoid). I canned seven quarts, froze the eighth, canned seven pints of pickes, and was in bed by 10. Told you I had it under control! Now if only I would stop finding tomato sauce splatters in places around the house.

Here are some of the other culinary creations of the week:

French Apple Cobbler (from McCall’s Cook Book, New York: Random House, 1963, 251, by way of my friend Barb. Comments are hers!)

Pre heat oven to 375°.

Combine: 5 cups peeled, sliced tart apples
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup water

Fill a 9 x 9 x 1 ¾-inch pan will apple mixture. [I often use more apples and bake this in a 9 x 13 pan.] Dot with 1 tablespoon butter.

Batter: ½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon… until smooth!
Drop batter in 9 portions on the apple mixture. Batter will spread during baking.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.
Serve warm with cream.
Serves 6 to 8 [according to the cookbook – but baked in the smaller pan, we find it serves four and half!

Yet another stir-fry

Mushrooms (Mountain Meadow Mushrooms)
Zucchini and Summer Squash (J.R. Organics)
Onions (Ted's Farm)
Garlic (Sage Mountain Farms)
Olive oil (Petrou Foods)

The Best Salad Ever

Entirely composed of vegetables from our CSA box and Hillcrest Farmers Market vendors.

Will be on the east coast this next week sampling the local foods of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, so will not be posting until next weekend. Check back then!


kale for sale said...

I love the tomato splattered kitchen. You're going to smile every time you eat those tomatoes remembering it. It doesn't get much better. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I had quite a laugh about the kitchen -- and I hope the 8 jars make for some delicious lasanga and pasta this winter. I bet it will taste good with or without burned parts just because of the memory! Let it never be said that you are faint of heart!

divajoni said...

just found your blog... you have some really interesting information. i, too, am trying to eat locally, sustainably, and ethically here in san diego. being a non-vegetarian, meat is most challenging aspect (IMHO). but i figure it is worth effort. good luck with the blog... you should have called me... i would have LOVED to help you with your canning! :)

Melanie Lytle said...

Next time I attempt something as silly as this I'll send out an open invitation first! ThHe more the merrier.