I’ve figured out the secret…

21 09 2008

I’ve figured out the secret to eating seasonally.  Lore has it that the food tastes so good, it’ll spoil you for everything less.  I’d say that’s at least 75% of it.  Since either buying produce at the farmer’s market or growing it, the bar has definitely been raised.  I do think there is another factor at work:

If you eat what you grow and you have a lot of it, you may end up so tired of a particular vegetable that the next thing in line tastes even better for it.   If you’re not the type of person who escapes the kitchen for a local restaurant, I imagine this is magnified 10-fold.

(I am getting tired of tomatoes.  I don’t think it is PC to actually say that you are tired of eating tomatoes off the vine, but I am getting there.  I was doing OK keeping up with the tomatoes up until a couple of weeks ago, but having had to take time away from the garden, I am way, way, way behind.  The chard has been tackled.  The pak choi has been partially tackled.  It was time to deal with the tomatoes. Next, while I am letting some of the green beans go to seed, I really should continue picking the rest.  I keep thinking they are done, but no.)

One of the things I have learned from this year’s tomato growing experiences is that, in the future, if I have sufficient space, I really could grow enough romas to put up to get through the rest of the year.  The bad news is, doubting whether my romas would ever turn red, I put up 30 lbs of tomatoes from the farmer’s market.  I don’t want to put up any more!  So, I have to find things to do with them.

I pulled out nearly 3 1/2 lbs of romas today, and I haven’t even dared think about the dozens upon dozens of cherry tomatoes waiting impatiently for me.  I eat as many as I can while standing in my garden plot, but there’s only so many of these things you can eat at a time!

I am trying out a new recipe for a fresh tomato soup.  It’s from the newly-published Cooks’ Country cookbook.  That said, I’m adapting both the proportions and some of the instructions.  This may be problematic for reasons mentioned below.  If it’s a success, I give total credit to the Cooks’ Country folk.  If it’s a failure, it’s really not their fault; I’m ignoring one rather crucial instruction.  It’s a little different than my other tomato soup recipes I’ve made, but I was pretty much able to make it with stuff straight out of the garden.

I cored and quartered the tomatoes and chopped up the three remaining small onions.  I threw in a few peeled cloves of garlic, and drizzled the entire thing with three tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar.

Now, the recipe both called for more tomatoes and instructed the cook to spread them on a large roasting pan.  I don’t have a large roasting pan at the moment, so I’m using my buffet casserole.  The mixture is supposed to be roasted at 450 degree for 1 1/2 hours.  The potential problem is that, with the veggies so close together, they seem to simmer and steam rather than roast, per se.  BUT, this is supposed to end up as soup, so I’m hoping that I’ll hit close enough to the mark for it to still taste good.  We’re about 45 minutes into it, and it smells pretty amazing.

The roasted tomatoes and onions are incredible.  The problem is that when I pureed them, per the recipe, they make a VERY thick puree.  This is supposed to be the basis for the rest of the soup.   The recipe called for either slicing OR plum tomatoes, and I had plum tomatoes.   Well, plum tomatoes have much less liquid to spare than slicing tomatoes, so while I was worried about there being too much liquid, the opposite has happened.

Then, realizing that I needed another pound of fresh tomatoes to mix with the basil that goes into the soup, I went down and picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes.  Now, whether it is the cherry tomatoes or the puree, the soup is too sweet.  I added very little sugar, so it’s not that; it is the tomatoes.  Too thick. Too sweet.  What to do.

(—– Half Hour Time out—–)

OK, despite everything I said above, I think there was an error in the recipe, which is so uncharacteristic of those folks, but this was so far from the mark for them, I think they forgot to write something down.  The recipe didn’t call for ANY additional water or broth.  This might have been OK with slicing tomatoes, but definitely not with my tomatoes.  Considering I had downsized the proportions pretty evenly, I don’t think that was the problem either.

I tried adding water at first.  That thinned it out, but the soup was still thick and sweet.  I went out and grabbed a goodish sprig of oregano, chopped it up, and threw it in.  That rounded out the flavors somewhat, but we still couldn’t imagine sitting down to a bowl of this.   I threw in quite a bit of chicken broth and some more salt, and A LOT of freshly ground pepper.  That did the trick.   It was no longer too sweet or too thick and actually tasted like a pretty great tomato soup.   We mopped it up with grilled cheese sandwiches made with homemade bread and handmade Beecher’s Flagship cheese.