Friday, 11 September 2009

Food Glorious Food, but so much of it..

It's that time of year when I seem to spend every waking moment picking, jamming, pickling, storing, bottling, etc etc. I love it really, but it does get a bit exhausting at times, and the worst part is, you can't moan to anyone about it like you can with say a normal job when things get busy. I regularly hear people say how busy they are, rushed off their feet, loads of orders to fill, paperwork to do, blahdy blah.
And I do sympathise, and say how hard it must be for them, working so hard and everything.
But if I say I'm a bit knackered from harvesting stuff from the garden, people just look at me and say,
"Well don't grow so much then". 
As though it's obvious. Clearly these people have not grasped the problem. It's a bit like saying to someone with a hangover,
"Well don't drink so much then".
Unhelpful in the extreme. Apart from anything else, the deed's already done. If the observation had been made as the beans were going in in May, or indeed as the vodkas were going in at midnight, it may have been a bit of use. But it's too late now. I do realize that in a good year you can feed a family of four, a dog and a hamster from one good courgette plant, (actually probably not the dog),  let alone the half dozen plants that I've got, so I've really no idea why I grow so many. Same with beans. Tomatoes however, are another story.

You can NEVER grow too many tomatoes. There are so many things you can do with tomatoes, and they are useful all year round that you will never have too many, though if you've got loads you may possibly not have enough energy to deal with them. I usually freeze a few bags of runner beans, though I often don't use them, and although I know I could freeze various courgette dishes etc, I don't bother, because to be honest, I never really fancy eating courgettes in the middle of the winter.  But if you have a stash of concentrated home made tomato sauce in the freezer, you always have the makings of a quick tasty supper.

I believe I have already waxed lyrical about Jamie's Mothership Tomato Salad, and I'm still enjoying it, but I'm finding now that I can use the best fruit for said salad, and the rest - especially split, bruised, and otherwise imperfect fruits, of which there are many, can be used for the
Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce
Take a large roasting tin and add as many tomatoes as you can fit in one level, cut in half, if you can manage lots of different heritage varieties, the flavour of the sauce will be enhanced, but even a box of the cheapest supermarket ones (I recommend Lidl) will do fine
Add a head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped  and sprinkled over
And a large handful of whatever herbs you have to hand, stalks and all, I had thyme and parsley.
Pour over a generous few glugs of extra virgin olive oil.
Season generously with salt, black pepper and a teaspoon or so of sugar.

Place in the top of a hot oven for about half an hour, or until softened, and possibly even slightly charred around the edges. Discard the woodiest bits of the herbs, and then tip the whole lot into the food processor and blend well. Store in small containers in the freezer.
Come January you'll be so glad you bothered.
Perfect as a quick pasta sauce, spread on a pizza base, and enriching sauces and casseroles of all kinds, for example -

Quick Chicken Curry
Brown two or three boned chicken thighs in a frying pan in oil.
Stir in a spoonful of the curry paste you always have lurking in the fridge.
Stir in  a container of your defrosted tomato sauce.
Add  coconut cream to taste, and a squeeze of lime juice if you have some.
Simmer a few minutes to cook through.
Serve with rice or flatbread.
It may not be authentic, but it's delicious, quick, easy, inexpensive, and has no e-numbers.

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