Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Tomato, Two Tomatoes, Three Tomatoes ... MORE!

I haven't been on here lately.  Have you noticed?  Ah, but of course you have because some of you have reminded me that I haven't posted anything recently.  How could I?  I've been overloaded with tomatoes and HAD to deal with them before the fruit flies did!  FINALLY I am finished dealing with all my tomatoes so I can sit down here and tell you what I've been up to.

We had our first frost warning a few weeks ago, so the day after that warning, I decided to take a trip up to Mennonite farm country to see if anyone had any cheap tomatoes that they needed to get rid of quickly.  My hunches were correct as I drove along and found a sign at the end of a lane at the corner of Northfield Drive and Line 86:  Long Lane Farm - Roma Tomatoes - No Sunday Sales.  Ahhh.... just what I was looking for!  I drove up the long lane and found an old order Mennonite woman standing on her porch surrounded by bushels and bushels of tomatoes!  They had to pick fast the night before so that they didn't lose the rest of their crop to the threatened frost. 

The tomatoes looked beautiful!  I told her I'd take a 1/2 bushel because they looked so nice and she started sorting through them, pulling out ones that had tiny blemishes.  I asked what she was going to do with all of her seconds (that really looked like the "good" stuff that you'd find in any grocery store) and she replied with a heavy sigh that she would probably have to can them for her family even though they had more than enough for the year.  I offered to take the seconds off her hands so that she could sell the good ones at the produce auction and not have to worry about what to do with the seconds.  I ended up getting them for $10 a bushel! Well, being the bargain lover that I am, I decided to take TWO bushels of seconds! 

What in the world was I thinking?!

For the next two weeks I was up to my eyeballs in tomatoes!  I canned tomato soup, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and more spaghetti sauce.  Then my friend Jenny shared the most delicious roasted tomato sauce with me and I fell in love!  I so regretted not having that recipe at the beginning of this whole ordeal because it quickly has become my favorite!  So much so, that when a friend of mine told me that their family was going to be out of town and they needed someone to use their tomatoes from their garden, guess what I did?  Yep.  I went and picked another half bushel just because I wanted some more of this sauce! 

I do believe now that I'm done with tomatoes.  My house has smelled like pasta sauce for the past two weeks and we have plenty to keep us going for a long, long time, but oh, am I thankful for those delicious, fresh and fragrant tomatoes! 

Here's Jenny's recipe.  You HAVE to try it, especially if you are up to your eyeballs in tomatoes!  Tweak it as you see fit.  I used many different varieties of tomatoes and I also added several cloves of garlic.  I also ate some of this incredible deliciousness as is after it was roasted and before it was blended.  Mmmmm!  Then I tried it warm as a soup and then cold as a gazpacho variation and then on pasta and then mixed in with leftover, fresh tomato soup and then with crackers as a dip.  I'm telling you, this stuff is fantastic!  You won't be disappointed!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Some of my homemade spaghetti sauce

Makes 3 cups
2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, cut into 1 in pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 in pieces
1/2 cup extra virgin oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 9X13 baking pan toss together tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, oil, salt and crushed red pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Remove pan from oven and fold basil and oregano into vegetables. Cook for 30 min more.
In a food processer, blend vegetables until pureed. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze.

Jeremiah 15:16

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16

This year it was Timothy's year to pick the birthday cake for his birthday.  Since he and Christopher share a birthday, we switch between choosing a birthday cake and choosing the birthday meal every year so that they both get a chance to choose something and I don't have to make two cakes. 

Timothy, Mr. Creative, decided that this year he wanted a Holy Bible birthday cake.  He gave me specific instructions on how it should be made, what color it had to be (he insisted on black and I kept hinting that brown would be just fine), there needed to be a red bookmark with pointy ends and the pages needed to be gold.  Oh yeah.  And it HAD to say Holy Bible on it.

Yikes.  How in the world could I do a cake like this?!  I'm so thankful for my friend, Barb, who I happened to be telling about this cake that I had to make and she said, "I have an idea.  Come over on Wednesday."  That's when Barb introduced me to fondant!  WooHoo!  She was amazing!  She had fantastic ideas of how to make the pages gold (yellow food paint with food grade glitter mixed in and then brushed onto white fondant), she had cut out letters for Holy Bible, she designed the red bookmark with pointy ends and made the beautiful black cover.  In real life, it looked just like Grandpa's well-loved Bible!  Did she do a fantastic job on this cake or what?!

Barb and her finished work of art!

When the kids got home from school that day, they all hovered around the cake and one of the after-school kids said, "Holly Bibble?  Who's that?"  While I held back a giggle, Timothy ran over to the book shelf and pulled out his Bible and replied, "It's Holy Bible!  Have you ever seen a real one?  You can look up verses in here and everything!" and then he proceeded to look up some verses that he's memorized and told the kids that they can read this Bible any time they wanted because we have lots of them!  What a witness he was.  What a blessing.

Timothy's joy was undeniable!

I made tabs with their names and ages.

We did enjoy eating God's word in the form of a cake and we're so thankful for our sweet birthday boys, Timothy - 7 and Christopher - 5.