When we looked at the farm last year, the garden that Mrs. B had planted was amazing. Produce was everywhere and the plants were thriving. Even the design of the garden was warm and inviting with a little center place outlined in a rustic wooden trellis for sitting and reflecting on how bountiful the garden could be.
Then we took over.
This year, I can’t say that the garden is a shadow of its former self. Heck, that’d be a compliment. If you stop by the farm you’d see that 90% of what used to be the garden is now back to being a lawn. The other 10% is lawn with what looks like tomato plants that maybe growing in it. Or are those weeds? And why are there pieces of wood in the middle of nowhere?
In other words, our garden has slowly turned into a disaster.
Now, mind you, we did have lots of other projects to work on at the beginning of the year and all of the way through until now. Important projects. And remember, we did get lots of produce from things we did tend to – the raspberries in particular were overwhelming, the dill was everywhere, and the leaf lettuce could have fed an army of bunnies. I won’t even bring up the mint…
The tomato plants we did get in were planted late (like end of July late), so the fact that they have anything to give is amazing. So, when Curtis – whom I hold partly responsible for the showplace to no-place garden mainly because he tore apart the whole planting and garden structure that was there when he used this giant who-knows-what-it’s-called piece of equipment in June to “get the soil broken up” – brought in a plate full of large and less than beautiful tomatoes, I was appreciative.
As an aside, last year at the Lake house, the girls and I had a tomato garden that was taller than me and like a jungle. It produced so many nice, perfectly formed tomatoes we didn’t know what to do with them all. We ate lots of caprese salad.
This year’s crop looks rough. So I thought I would try something new and make some tomato sauce in the crockpot while I was at work yesterday.
Confession time – I am half Italian. My Mother is an amazing cook/chef, so she’s not responsible for the fact that I have never made my own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes until yesterday. I own it. It is my shame.
First things first, I needed a recipe. Quick search of my best friend, Googie – we’re tight like that – and I have it. And it calls for peeled tomatoes.
Quick search for a YouTube video on peeling tomatoes, done by a British chef who called them “toh-mah-toes”, followed by a 3 minute conversation with Zoe about why he was calling them toh-mah-toes instead of toe-may-toes, and I was ready to peel. I went with the “use the knife blade to separate out the flesh from the skin” method rather than the “plunge in hot water” method because, frankly, there were parts of all of the tomatoes that I wouldn’t want plunged into anything remotely connected to what I would later be eating.
I have two crockpots currently in my life. (The third is still out there, trust me.) But the two that remain are the giant “feed a family of 11” sized and the appetizer dip sized. I picked the giant-sized feeling certain that my garden produced a huge quantity of sauce worthy of such equipment.
Um, not quite.
However, because I was doing this before work and school, I ran out of time to switch crockpots. So, plugged it in, prayed that it was enough to not burn the farm down and left.
When we returned, the house smelled of tomato sauce, which is good because the smell may be the only thing I get out of my labor. In addition to not having time to switch crockpots, I apparently also didn’t stir my ingredients before I left. So my giant crock roasted to lovely black the green peppers (also from the garden) and onion (from the garden of Giant Eagle). Half of the tomato pieces were also black.
It was too hot to taste – about the temperature of molten lava – so I transferred it into a small salad bowl and put it in the refrigerator. We had chicken with corn (no pasta side) for dinner.
What do you call an Italian who can’t make tomato sauce? Oh, I can come up with several ideas…
But if there is a market for tomato sauce potpourri, I think I have the recipe for that.