Tonight, I roasted 2 cookie sheets of tomatoes and put them in the freezer. Not on the cookie sheets, of course. We are really pulling in the tomatoes! On Friday, I sent G to the potluck with a produce box FILLED with eggplants, 2 kinds of squash and tomatoes–seriously about 20 pounds of veggies. Then we still had a whole large mixing bowl full. Roasting them slowly in a low oven is a great way to get the skins off and get a bit of more concentrated flavor, so I lined 2 cookie sheets with foil, sprayed with cooking spray, then washed and halved the tomatoes.
The variety is amazing–same vegetable, but such different forms: The small Roma tomatoes, just like the little ketchup bottles in that Heinz commercial; not very juicy but great for adding a thick richness to a sauce. The “Heat Waves”, round, just the right size or a sandwich or salad with a wonderful tomato flavor. Brandywines, probably my favorite “eating” tomato–huge, bumpy, not very pretty but deee-lish. They don’t make very good sauce because they are so “liquid-y” but the flavor is worth putting some in to roast. Then, the Cherokee Purples—cutting into a ripe one is like cutting into wine–deep, dark color and a rich flavor. We love trying new heirlooms every year. We haven’t had a dud yet!
Turn the oven to 200, drizzle a little olive oil over the tomato halves, slide in the full cookie sheets and let them roast for 2 hours. I turn the cookie sheets around at the 1-hour mark. After 2 hours the skins have shrunk back and the house is smelling like a really good Italian restaurant. I let them cool til I can handle them easily, the slide off the peels and put the warm tomatoes into a 2-cup measure, then pour them into zipper freezer bags. Viola! Two cups of summer goodness ready to go into soups, stews, casseroles or sauce.
Then, just as I had got the picked tomatoes under control, daughter J called and said her sister-in-law wanted some tomatoes and they were on the way. We had just had a rain storm (double rainbow!), so I grabbed my big mixing bowl and went out and picked (seriously) about 15 pounds of tomatoes in under 10 minutes. I had just walked in the house when they drove up, and V. was soooo happy to have those tomatoes. I really do love giving away our veggies. It makes me feel good to know that someone is eating good, healthy food that comes from right down the street and can be traced back to the very seeds. Our seeds, in fact, came from Colorado, and are either heirloom or at least not genetically modified, so that’s another reason to feel good about these veggies.
I know that I would never be able to manage this kind of yard/garden by myself, working the way I do, but even when J. was a teenager, and I worked full time outside the house, I still managed a little 10 x 20 foot garden for years and got enough stuff to give away plenty. From dirt to seedling, to tender plant to flower to tiny fruit to full blown tomato, there is just nothing better to make things “real”.
Maybe we should require that all members of Congress do some time in a garden every day. Perhaps then they could relate a little better to our world.
Such thoughts that a pan full of roasted home-grown tomatoes evokes!