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Triumph of the Mundane

Slow blogging at its finest

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Lynn Rossetto Kasper

Hang On Little Tomato!

2017tomato1

(A little late on this posting – the harvest is vinally over – bad pun intended!)

The title of a Pink Martini song and album has come to mind often these last few weeks as scores and scores of tomatoes ripen, and we attempt to pick them at peak ripeness.

This year’s tomato planting is in a new spot. Most of the year the south side of the garage is in the dark shadows of the neighbor’s behemoth brick house. My guess was that the high angle of the summer sun would last long enough to yield a hearty crop. And indeed it did. Another title in the running for this post was Incoming!

In a nod to monoculture, the hubs planted five roma tomato plants there and two more in pots on the deck. Producing gallons of sauce was apparently the only thing on his mind (more on that another time). But we still topped salads and enjoyed BLTs with these tomatoes. A little variety, however, would have been nice. . .

Back to the harvest, which is where all the comic material lies.

2017tomato2

The hubs rigged up this wonky trellis for better air circulation and to allow the vines to grow longer and outward, thereby increasing production. When the birds decided it provided a nice, secluded place to sit and grab a snack, he draped the whole business with netting. And the final runner-up title for this posting was Rack ‘Em Up.

What he failed to consider was picking tomatoes. The contraption is a little over four feet high, and it requires an awkward combination of yoga and limbo moves to get in and out. That’s accented with grade school-level Quasimodo imitations to plod, hunched over, and reach deep to pick tomatoes. Four times out of five, one of us smacks a noggin on the overhead trellis and at least once a week somebody gets tangled in the netting.

Hopefully the neighbors get a kick out of our point-and-pull method. I crouch on the ground, looking up into the vines, pointing out tomatoes; the hubs reaches in almost blindly while I coach “a little to the left and up” in hopes of plucking the ripe fruit hidden in the leaves.

2017tomato3
Random image of the lovely tomatoes we picked. Not necessarily representative of a day’s harvest. . .

The fun continues when the hubs attempts to estimate the day’s harvest. It’s a whole new level of husband math. Example: “Must be five pounds of tomatoes, maybe 12.” Nothing like covering your bases: Nine pounds was that day’s yield.

Then there’s the canning pot. Our newish stove has two ceramic burners and two induction. Somehow he convinced himself that we were damaging the large diameter ceramic burner by using prolonged high heat and the old-fashion enameled canning pot. I remain unconvinced.

However, since I returned to work he is unattended all day and in possession of a valid credit card. Thus, unsurprisingly, I came home to a shiny new gargantuan canning pot suitable for use on an induction stove. I informed him that we will never can enough of anything to justify the cost. He remains unconvinced.

Thus, he has spent much effort outlining possible additional uses for this pot. The best one so far is the pot is big enough to make bagels. Oy vey. Hang on little tomato, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

Tomato Fail Times Two

Tomato 2

This year’s tomato harvest is dismal. Pathetic even.

Last year the output was smaller than usual so we figured it was time for a new plan. Probably that blight thing, so give up on planting tomatoes in the garden for a year. Try pots on the deck. Fresh tomatoes just steps from the back door. Not so much. Mostly dry, hot summer punctuated by periods of deluge. Plants either too dry (even watering multiple times a day) or too wet.

What to do about spaghetti sauce!

Costco to the rescue!

Tomato 1

This has to be the solution, right?

Then The Splendid Table re-posts a story on canned tomatoes. Clearly, I’ve been dupped by a PR scam. But I’m certainly not going to throw away this jumbo can of tomatoes.

Maybe a little extra vodka in the Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola will cover any shortcomings. And maybe put some of that vodka in a glass rather than in the sauce. . .

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Mmmm — Better Than A Watson Dish

In the relatively recent past, IBM’s uber-computer Watson devised recipes, churning out food combinations with the potential for finding interesting flavor mixes. Cognitive cooking is the term.

Where’s the joy of discovery in that? Making the best use of ingredients for wise resource allocation, I’m in. But adding another layer between person and dinner doesn’t ring true to me.

That’s why this dinner is a special delight. The hubs amalgamated a bunch of leftovers into a casserole. Here’s the result:

casserole (2)

And here’s the unlikely recipe: Half a fennel bulb, a few potatoes, some fresh mozzarella, half a pound of Italian sausage (cooked and crumbled), and an onion. Cut/slice as desired. Layer in an oven-proof dish. Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes more. Then uncovered to brown for a final 10 minutes.

A.maz.ing. Would never have thought of it. May I be so bold as to say Lynn Rossetto Kasper would approve. Splendid indeed.

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