Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eat some dirt

There was an interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York times yesterday.

Dirtying Up Our Diets

I can't really sum it up any better than this:  "Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tomatoes.  Those perfectly sweet-tart tangy acidic fruits that are the long-awaited harbingers of summer.  And for the gardener, at least yours truly, the determining factor whether or not the harvest is a success.

Tomatoes.  I sort of just sighed in my head writing that.  I love them.  And with all the different varieties, it's hard to choose a favorite.  Cherry tomatoes: the candy of the tomato world.  Beefsteaks: amazing between two slices of soft multigrain bread with a healthy smear of basil aioli, salt, and plenty of black pepper.  Romas.  Sometimes not so good for fresh eating, but cook those puppies up, sauce, paste, canned whole; they take on a whole new dimension.

I went to visit the family homestead yesterday.  All told, there's around 18 acres of land.  My parents and grandparents usually have big gardens going.  This spring my parents didn't plant, and my grandparents have scaled back a lot.  To some, a dozen tomato plants doesn't seem like "scaling back" but that's what it is, at least for my grandparents.

Unfortunately, this season they were over-run by leaf-footed stink bugs.  The plants have a TON of tomatoes on them, but they're all sagging pitifully on the surface of the soil.  So I did what I have always done.  I created a kangaroo pouch in my shirt, and picked as many of those tomatoes that were close to ripe as I could.  Several varieties of cherry, roma, and beefsteak tomatoes eventually found their way into a bag for me to take home and do something with.

I made sauce.  Tasty, delicious, roasted tomato sauce.

1.5 to 2 lbs of tomatoes (I used whatever I ended up with)
1 large yellow onion
6-7 cloves peeled garlic
1/4 c olive oil

Roast in a high sided pan at 400* F until everything gets mushy and starts to caramelize

Transfer everything into a pot and blend with an immersion blender or CAREFULLY process/blend into a smooth-ish sauce.

Then add:

2-3 Tbsp fresh oregano
4-5 Tbsp fresh basil
1 Tbsp rosemary (optional)
dried marjoram (I need a new plant)
1 Tbsp sugar (dried cane)
salt to taste

Cook on medium-low for as long as you deem necessary.  Mine was good after a few hours, but I left it on the stove for about 8.  Oops.  Strain if you don't want to deal with the seeds or tiny bits of skin.  I didn't, because I'm lazy.  Can and process if you want, I threw mine in the fridge and freezer.  Makes about 3 quarts.