Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday. Whatever you want to call it, I call it Pancake day and it’s here!
Traditionally, pancake day is the last day before the beginning of Lent. During Lent, it is customary to give up things we love (think drinking pop or alcohol, tv, or eating chocolate) so historically families would try to use up things like meat, butter, and flour, and thus the tradition of Pancake Day began. As a kid for Shrove Tuesday my family usually went to a Pancake dinner at the church, which was always an awesome excuse to see friends in the middle of the week. These days, as someone always looking for an excuse to have friends around the table, Pancake Tuesday dinners seemed like a great tradition to start in my house.
I remember as a kid we always seemed to be fundraising for something. Girl Guide cookies, raffle tickets or boxes of citrus for band trips. I was never a massive fan of the fundraising but was a huge fan of the arrival of those big boxes of Florida oranges and grapefruit. Growing up in Ontario, Florida was a pretty common winter vacation spot for most of my friends. Maybe my friends got their fill of citrus on holiday, but the closest I ever got, or have been, to Florida was getting those big boxes of oranges and grapefruit. Makes me, almost, miss high school band…
I was a lot older, when I first saw grapefruit growing on a tree. I could not believe my eyes. Tree after tree so overloaded the fruit was falling on the ground around me. I gourged myself on that first trip. It was divine.
Potlucks. Do you love them or hate them? My feelings are mixed. In some ways they make things easier – you don’t have to cook as much, there is less clean up and there are more options for picky eaters. But, it is also possible to end up with a table full of desserts or five macaroni salads. So what’s a girl to do? How do you decide what to bring?
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.
I’m a summer girl. There is no way around it. Summer is my season.
To be fair, fall clothes suit me better, but when the sun is high in the sky and the days are sticky and long, I’m at my best. The most me.
The other day I realized that I get more done in one hot afternoon than I do in a week of cold weather. Heck, if I lived somewhere that was warm full time I would probably be unbearable because I’d be the most insufferable achieving optimist.
It was a short summer season here in Vancouver and while I had a bumper crop of tomatoes (yeah!) there is one small problem, many of them are (still) green. Very green.
Several pints of green tomato salsa, relish and chutney later I decided I needed to make something that was edible now. The answer was obvious (not fried) green tomatoes and onion. Easy beyond belief and a great addition to your dinner table. Continue reading →
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.)
You will also need:
large sheet pan(s) or cookie sheets
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.
When the tomatoes are cool, place them in a blender. Puree until smooth adding more olive oil if necessary. To keep the puree for immediate use, place it in a jar in the fridge. Ensure that there is always a thin layer of oil on top to prevent spoilage. It should last this way for about a week. To save some for the coming months just spoon the paste into an ice cube tray, cover and place in the freezer. When frozen, use a knife to remove the cubes and put them in a labelled container in the freezer. Tomato paste cubes are the perfect size to add a bit of zing to eggs, pasta, beans or vegetables in the coming months.
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.