My kitchen has been overtaken by tomatoes. For the past week, the countertops have been lined with spillover from a late summer harvest. It’s a blessing, but also a real dilemma for a brown-thumb, largely kitchen-phobic girl who for nearly three decades picked the tomatoes out of everything.
I love fresh produce as much as the next green diva, but could never stomach store-bought tomatoes, no matter how well-disguised. It wasn’t until I cut the grocery store out of my produce loop that I became a tomato convert.
As many media sites discussed this summer, through mass production we’ve created tomatoes that are uniform in color and bland in taste while we turn our noses up at yummier “splotchy” ones. Those pretty, genetically-selected tomatoes sure did leave a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t need to tell you that there is nothing as savory as a tomato fresh from the garden. But after months of eating countless tomato, basil and mozzarella snacks, by last week I was ready for something new. A dehydrator was perfect to prep those little guys for pasta dishes later this winter when there’s nary a “real” tomato to be found.
This year was my first adventure in gardening and as anyone who knows me can attest—I do not have a green thumb. While living out in Tucson I even managed to kill a mini-cactus. So bear with me in my quest to grow, harvest and make good to use of the garden bounty. If I can do it, anyone can.
Luckily my husband steps up to the challenge. We spent the better part of May walking around our 1.5-acre yard trying to guestimate where the best sun exposure would be mid-summer. He used his engineer mind to construct raised beds and install irrigation and I mostly flitted around talking about how pretty purple string beans are amidst yellow and green squash.
Pretty and practical are two different things. When the hubby heaved some overgrown zucchini out of the garden last month, I panicked. We already had jars of pickles on their way…what to do?! I threw caution to the wind, and, accidentally, an extra half-cup of sugar into the bowl, and made some super-sweet zucchini bread. (If you got a loaf, you know my magic recipe).
We now have a small crop of jalapeno peppers that should be ready for harvesting this week. I’m thinking I’ll hit up a local farm for apples and then make some southwestern jalapeno apple pie (and ask the hubby to supervise!).