Another cool morning, but I managed to sleep late, so I woke up to find sunshine streaming through the windows, grey-green shadows flickering among trees and houses, squirrels bustling across the fence lines, mouths crammed with nuts from a neighbor's black walnut tree.
Yesterday was busy. I dealt with a bunch of work emails and then began a new poem, which was going along swimmingly until the phone rang and the rest of my day began. So I chatted for a long time with my Chicago son, hung sheets on the line, and then girded my loins for tomatoes. From four plants, I collected two bushels of full-sized green tomatoes, a dishpan of half-ripe ones, and a big mixing bowl full of immature ones. Then I tore out the plants, cut them into manageable pieces, and hauled them to the compost bins. I still have one plant left in the ground--a cherry tomato--because the fruit is able to ripen quickly, even in this cool weather.
What to do with all of this bounty? I started with the immature greenies, which won't keep well and have no hope of ripening. I've learned that they make an excellent facsimile of tomatillo sauce, so I diced them, spread them in baking pans, poured in some olive oil, salted them lightly, and roasted them for about an hour, until they were soft and slightly caramelized. Once they cooled, I ran them through a food mill and poured the sauce into several small freezer containers. Over the winter I'll thaw this, add fresh spices or herbs (onion, garlic, hot pepper, cilantro, roasted cumin, whatever), and use it as a finishing sauce in tacos, curries, beans, stews, etc. It adds a sharp, citrusy flavor to winter staples.
In the meantime, I made a batch of red sauce with fruit already ripening in the kitchen: roughly cut-up tomatoes, a green pepper, and a head of garlic simmered for several hours; put through the food mill; and simmered again for another couple of hours. I froze two quarts from that batch.
So we'll see how the mature greenies ripen. I'll have to sort through the bushels every couple of days, removing anything that's starting to go bad, separating out the ones that are reddening. Usually this works pretty well, as long as I keep on top of the job. My hope is that I'll be simmering a lot of sauce over the next couple of weeks. I can use as much as I can make: for pasta dishes, for soup base. I wish I could can sauce instead of freezing it, but this piecemeal ripening means I'll be working in small batches, so canning isn't practical.
While all of this was going on in the kitchen, I was also making yeast rolls and processing a giant picking of Swiss chard. It's a good thing I have a brand-new, easy-to-clean counter as well as a dishwasher that holds a lot of big pots and bowls. I ran it four times yesterday.
In short, I celebrated a full-blown farmwife day, here in my tiny vegetable plot in a city by the sea.