Sunday, September 16, 2007

Plenty of tomatoes, but no kitchen

Harvested in the nick of time

I mentioned that we have been renovating our house - it's a bungalow and the work includes moving the kitchen from the north side to the south, and redoing a bedroom in between and turning the old kitchen space into a bedroom - which is why I haven't posted much lately.

It's futile to think that life can go on as normal when you're sleeping in the study, cooking in the basement (where the stove is in one room and the sink in another) and making coffee in the laundry room upstairs. Every attempt at a meal means running up and down the stairs a few times because the refrigerator is upstairs in the front hall. And the dishes: do I ever miss the dishwasher.

Then there are the tomatoes from the garden: I've waited for the them to ripen all season, and last night we had our first frost. I had a lot of San Marzano tomatoes on the vine, and, while frost hit low lying areas, it missed the tomato patch. So this afternoon I went out and picked the rest of my tomatoes.

My dilemma: what to do with all them without a proper kitchen? I hate to see them go to waste after a summer of growing them, so my solution is to roast them instead of simmering a sauce. I put a bit of olive oil in a roasting pan along with garlic and onions, and then simply cut the tomotoes in half, seed them (San Marzanos have very few seeds, which makes that part pretty easy), and add them to the pan along with a salt and pepper, and basil, if I have the energy to run up to patio, where I've got some in a planter.

I start the oven at 350F and after 20 or 30 minutes turn it down to 250F and let them slow roast for a couple of hours. This way I don't have to stay in the basement stirring a pot on the stove. And the roasted tomatoes are just delicious. I freeze them in little containers to add zest to sauces in the winter.

Some of the tomatoes I picked are still a bit green, but after a few days in the basement they ripen nicely, and I don't intend to roast them all at once anyway.

As for our contractor, well, he's Italian, and loves the smell of roasting tomatoes. The first day I did this, he came down to the basement to swap tomato sauce secrets.

Due date for the new kitchen: I've got my fingers crossed for finishing around mid-October, in time for my birthday, and we should have the bedrooms back a week before then. Work started just after Labor Day, and so far I'm very impressed with the guys. But living in a house through a kichen reno isn't a whole lot of fun, especially if you're a control freak about food like I am.

The kitchen-to-be, formerly two bedrooms


  1. Wow!! that is an early frost for southern Ontario.
    We had our first frost last night...normal for Northern Ontario.
    Great looking crop, and reno's.

  2. No ideas for you. We just covered ours with a clear plastic and they've been fine. I'm in Northern Ontario. I'm jealous of your kitchen reno. We've been here 2 years and we still can't do the kitchen yet and it's a disgusting mess. The walls are old uncovered plywood and we don't have a countertop. I still manage to cook in it though! '

  3. Anonymous9:08 AM

    Kitchen reno? Been there, done that and you have my deepest sympathies! It will all be worth it in the end though. As for your tomatos, my father (a Master Chef)taught me this trick: wash the tomatos, dry them, then freeze them whole on a cookie sheet. Once they're frozen solid, place them in a container or freezer bag. They are not good for slicing, but are great for making sauces, stews, soups and the like.

  4. Thanks, Bert. We are harvesting the rest of the tomatoes this week (amazing production we had from just four plants), and I will freeze them in the way you suggesed. I love having them in the winter.
    ...So looking forward to the new kitchen and having my dishwasher back.


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