Thursday, September 24, 2015

She Says Tomatoes

When my neighbour Rose phones and says, "Come get 'em," I go. She's very persuasive -- and perhaps she thinks I need some encouragement in the fine old arts of preserving what we can grow ourselves.
Because Rose grows.
And there is nothing that can be grown that Rose can't preserve. She freezes. She bottles. She makes the best mustard pickles ever; made with zucchini because she ran out of cucumbers, I ate it right out of the bottle, right out of the fridge, with a spoon. Like candy.
So Rose called this morning and said she had tomatoes -- more tomatoes -- for me.
"The romas you gave me two weeks ago are ripe now," I told her.
"You haven't done anything with them yet?"
Poor Rose. I'm not much of a student.
When I arrived at Rose's house, she handed me her recipe for salsa and a bag of just-picked roma tomatoes, 11 pounds worth, then hauled two grocery bags of frozen romas out of her freezer.
She simply has so much produce, she can give it away to me. Unless you think I'm a total mooch, however, Rose no longer has chickens so I am able to repay her generosity by giving her eggs.
"I did you a favour," she added and peeled the lid off a 15 kg margarine bucket to reveal beefsteak tomatoes -- what I'd come to get -- already skinned and cored.
"I had time so I did them," Rose said. It had been two hours since she called me. She had nothing else to do so she did my tomatoes. I am in awe.
Tonight I stewed tomatoes. I would rather have canned but I don't have a big enough canner and for the same reason I haven't used the now-ripe romas, I don't have time.
Preserving is an essential art, it's the way to do food for the winter, but it takes organization and commitment in September. Baby steps this year: first, strawberry jam, now tomatoes.
And salsa on Saturday. I have 20 pounds of roma tomatoes to deal with.

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