Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nature's Bounty (or Why I Shouldn't Cook)



Our six tomato plants have been especially fruitful this year. I have had tomatoes and more tomatoes.

We've given tomatoes to my in-laws, my husband's aunt, our next door neighbors times three, and my best friend. I have not yet grown desperate enough to leave them on people's doorsteps but with as many as 50 more ready to pick in two days' time I may get that way.

I do not can, though I should. I have made pickles in the past and they were good, but my cucumbers this year are not in the numbers for pickles. I have enough tomatoes to can, but we don't eat that much tomatoey foods anyway because I have a tender belly that can't tolerate all that acid.

Last night I decided I would freeze some of the tomatoes. I have done that before with good results, and it's easy.

All you have to do is boil the tomatoes for about a minute, then plunge them in ice water. This allows you to easily remove the skin.

Then you cut out the bad spots and the core. Rinse out the seeds. Put the meaty pulp in a drainer and then place them in labeled quart freezer bags. Remove as much as you can and then stick them in the freezer.

I made a pot of tea for my husband and then gathered my ingredients for the tomato freezing. A big pot for boiling, a plastic dish for the ice water, a spoon for dipping the tomatoes from the hot water, my colanders for draining, a knife.

As the water heated, I cleaned the tomatoes I planned to use.

Then I filled my plastic bowl with ice water and set it on the stove next to the boiling water for easy transfer.

I plopped in the tomatoes and set a timer. The skin on some of the riper tomatoes began to strip right off. When the timer went off, I grabbed the spoon and plunged the tomatoes one by one into the icy water.

Then I decided to pick up the bowl to carry it to the sink so I could put the tomatoes in the colander.

But what was this? The bowl ... would not budge. Had I become a weakling suddenly?

No.

The bowl had melted to the eye on my Jenn-Air stove. Remember that pot of tea I made before beginning the tomato process?

This eye was still a little hot when I placed the bowl of ice water on it.

First I laughed at my stupidity and then I cried. A new set of stove eye inserts for a Jenn-Air is expensive.

I dipped the tomatoes out and carried them individually to the sink as I tried to figure out what to do now.

I thought about turning the stove eye on so I could remove the bowl but I wasn't sure that was a good idea.

My husband was out but expected back in an hour so I decided to leave the bowl where it was - it wasn't like I could do anything with it anyway - and continue with my tomato freezing.

It took about 35 tomatoes to make up five quarts.

My husband came home as I finished up the tomatoes, and I explained my predicament to him. He vetoed the "turn on the eye and let the bowl melt free" suggestion, saying it would smoke up the house. He's a fireman so I had to respect his knowledge on this subject.

He tested the bowl and could not remove it, but after he emptied the bowl of ice water, he tried again. Perhaps because the water was gone, he was able to wrench it free.

That left just a little tiny ring of plastic on the eye, which he was able to scrap off with his pocket knife. The eye burned fine after he cleaned it.

The bowl is still usable, too. Catastrophe averted!

Regular readers will remember I melted a plastic spoon into peanut brittle back in the winter.

Some folks are meant to cook, and are artistically creative with food.

Some folks, like me, are just meant to eat it, I guess.

9 comments:

  1. I know what I would buy you for a gift now... wooden utensils and metal bowls. =) I laughed at the tomato delimma as I've never heard so many people say they have an abundance of tomatoes this year! HA!!! Cucumbers were bountiful this year as well. YUM!

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  2. Lol! Adventures in the kitchen, ahhh. I know them well. I've done my share and I'm sure I'm not done yet. It's nice that hubby saved the day!

    What a great harvest! I'd love to take some off your hands. My tomatoes didn't do well this year
    :(

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  3. Tomatoes sure have been in abundance this year. Everyone at work has brought in so many. I don't even like tomatoes that much and took some! But homegrown goods are the best, aren't they? And i'm glad the kitchen experience wasn't too bad :o)

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  4. I would have turned the stove on and screwed it up real good. Good thing ya got a firefighter in ya midst! I wish we were neighbors as I'd be happy to take some of those tomatoes off your hands. I bought one yesterday at $3.99 a pound and it wasn't even that good.

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  5. You can also just throw them as is in a freezer bag. When you want to use them to throw in a sauce etc just run them over hot water and peel off the skin. They are watery but taste garden fresh. You can add thick sauce or paste to thicken. My sister taught me this and I couldn't believe it was that easy, but it was and now I grow twice as many tomatoes just to freeze them this way.

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  6. Oh that's hilarious! I'm right there with you! Thank God for handy husbands - they fix stuff and then take us OUT to eat.

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  7. Oops! Looking at the box of veg I'd want to eat it too.

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  8. Hopefully my adventures in the kitchen have passed. Since I wrote this I also had a grease fire and burned a batch of squash!

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  9. I think your husband needs to give my husband a few lessons. Mine has left dishtowels on the stove before and I've not noticed (stupid me) and set them on fire.

    I was going to try to suggest putting a paper towel down over it and ironing it. I've gotten crayons, plastic and other kinda melty things up by doing that.

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