Tomatoes

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I wrote this a few weeks back and now that the tomatoes have slowed down a bit I have time to post it!

My past 72 hours of existence belong to the tomato.
My heart beats tomato, tomato, tomato…
My silly compost heap burps tomatoes.
The deep freeze fills its belly with tomatoes, but my counter never clears.
Tomatoes, disguised as sauces, salsa, salads, simple chunks, and soon, soups sift through my fingers. How does our garden reward me?
Payment in tomatoes.
Good thing life is better with tomatoes…
My life is GOOD.

Over the course of the past two days, 80-85% of my non-sleeping hours have been spent in the kitchen. The main order of the weekend was tomato sauce. Tomatoes are currently ripe and beyond plentiful in our garden. I skinned, seeded, chopped, boiled and made sauce, sauce, sauce! Did I mention sauce? It’s extraordinary how much time and effort, and how many tomatoes go into a single quart of that delightful pasta-dressing we all know and love.

The tomato sauce recipe was a simple one, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am horrible at following recipes! This is the basic tomato sauce making process; adjust amounts according to your personal tastes and I think you’ll actually enjoy the final product all the more!

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The Ingredients:

Lots of tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Onions, coarsely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Plenty of garlic, minced
Apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
Lots of fresh basil, chopped (use cinnamon basil if available; it is absolutely heavenly!)
Salt and pepper

The Drill:

  1. Skin and seed tomatoes and set aside. (If you have unending supply of tomatoes like I did, this step can take a while. A long while. Bring a nice playlist of your favorite songs, listen to a book on tape or enlist some cheerful assistants. Yes, it’s an investment, but it’s totally worth it!)
  2. Brown chopped onions in olive oil (I was making A LOT of sauce, so I sautéed the onions in a small stainless steel stock pot; a large, deep skillet works perfectly for smaller batches).
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, and a generous splash of apple cider vinegar to onions.
  4. Simmer until sauce is thick. DO NOT yield to temptation and crank the heat up a bit to speed along the boiling process. I scorched an enamel pot. We’re talking BLACK CHAR all across the bottom of it. I scrubbed that darn thing for days and eventually repurposed it into a kitchen compost bin! Needless to say, the sauce was not salvageable. I tried. It was awful. I shed a few tears; I’m not ashamed to admit it!)
  5. After simmering down to the desired consistency, turn off the heat and add fresh chopped basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Let sauce sit, covered, for 30 minutes to allow all those marvelous savory flavors to mix and merge.
  7. Re-heat sauce before serving or canning.

Seven steps, that’s all there is to it! The batches I made had a little flavor variation, but they were all wonderfully delicious. Well, except for the burnt batch. That horrifying taste isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m still fighting back a gag reflex.
IMG_9204(Written and in part posted in Interim Arts in August, 2013)

 

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