Well the rains have landed in Vancouver, and I’ve even heard that it has snowed in other parts of the country *shudder*. So at the suggestion of a friend I thought I’d post about something that preserves the sunshine all year round. Preserved lemons.
As I write this it is early morning and I’m sitting on my back porch with a coffee. The sun is creeping its way over the trees, the birds are singing and the garden is still dripping from the dew. I may change locations soon but only to get a fresh peach for breakfast, weed the garden and plot my next preserving adventure.
It’s summer and the livin’ is easy.
There aren’t many things I am sure of in my life. Change is constant. There are a few though. Music, books, sunshine and that I adore pretty much all things Italian. Especially Italian food. ti adoro. The simplicity, the rich flavours, the seasonality. Closely related is the other thing I know for sure. That there is no way I could ever possibly grow enough basil to satisfy my love for it. So imagine my happiness when one of my greatest friends who is studying at The Richmond Farm School gave me a tour and showed me their basil greenhouse. What a deliciously happy and odiferous place.
The day kept getting better when I learned that they operated a farm stand with The Sharing Farm Society. I bought bunch after bunch. We’ve been eating it now, but most of it is being saved for later in the form of pesto. It might sounds cliche, but when the cold weather hits and summer is a very far off memory, having a stash of pesto made from high summer basil can be a sanity saver.
Remember the story about the ugly duckling? You know, the poor little thing who was a bit unfortunate looking but when given a chance and a bit of time was a real beauty? Well today our little ducks name is Sunchoke. Or more formally, Jerusalem artichoke. You’ve never heard of the poor little thing have you? It’s okay. Don’t feel badly. We’ve only become acquainted, and I admit, it was a confusing and a rocky start.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a ballerina.
Well, first I wanted to be a garbage collector. Seriously. They wore really cool orange jumpsuits. For the record, I look horrible in orange. I moved on.
What I never thought I would do is write. Continue reading
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about pizza. Ruminating one might say.
Pizza. Is there a more perfect food? I’m hard pressed to think of one. Vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, dieting down, bulking up, lactose intolerant…. Seriously. No matter your dietary proclivities there is always a way to make pizza work for you.
I love books. Especially cook books (and cooking magazines, and cooking websites… ). I can read a cookbook at any time of the day. Cooking from them though, well, that’s another story.
I have a lot of cookbooks. I read through them all the time, I use post it notes to mark recipes I want to cook and I make list after list of what I’d like to try. But, when it comes time to cook dinner it never fails I open the fridge scan around, grab a few random things, close my eyes and start cooking. When it works it seems impressive “you can make anything at the drop of a hat”, when it doesn’t… well let’s leave those comments out of this.
In my continuous quest to have summer last all year one of my favourite ways to preserve the taste of the season is oven roasted tomato paste. Looking for a weekend project? Making it isn’t difficult, just a bit time intensive. I assure you though your winter meals will thank you for it.
- as many ripe roma tomatoes as you wish. (A full baking sheet makes about one ice cube tray worth of paste.)
- olive oil
- sea salt
You will also need:
- large sheet pan(s) or cookie sheets
- parchment paper
- food processor / belnder
- ice cube tray
- Head to local farmers market and buy a ridiculous amount of tomatoes.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your sheet pan(s).
- Place tomatoes cut side up on the paper. Don’t worry, they can be packed fairly close together. The more the merrier.
- Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place in oven.
- Allow to cook for 3-4 hours. At about the 3 hour mark make sure you check that they haven’t started to burn on the edges.
- When they are cooked, remove pans from the oven and let them cool.
This was not the post I planned for today. But then something happened.
Yesterday, as I was prepping 40lbs of beautiful field tomatoes for the freezer a friend innocently asked “is that how you peel tomatoes?”. It was then that I realized that every year when I freeze tomatoes (or peaches) I get the same question.
So folks, here ya go.
First. Get some tomatoes.
Next, boil some water in a large pot and set a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. When the water is boiling use a slotted spoon and place them into the water.
Watch them until the skin splits. As soon as the skin splits use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and place them in the cold bowl of water.
Place the bowl in sink, and if the water has warmed add more cold water. It is important not to let the tomatoes actually cook at this stage. You just want to be able to peel the skin.
Peel off the skin.
That’s it. You’re done.
What you do now is up to you. You could leave them whole, core them, slice them, quarter them, mash them, seed and puree them, your options are endless. This batch I just quartered and put into freezer bags.
Now they just sit in the freezer and wait for the winter rains as a little mealtime reminder that summer always comes back.