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Those of you following this blog know I occasionally assign quirky personalities or off-beat characteristics to my vegetables. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not because I have too much time on my hands.

Hardly.

I just love food, especially farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. That, and the fact that I have an overly-active imagination.

Between my Grant Farms CSA veggie share and my neighbor who’s out of town and asked me to keep an eye on his tomatoes (invasion of the tomato snatcher), I have a boat-load of these wonderful gems.

Tomatoes are auxiliary verbs. Don’t get me wrong, I love them on their own, but more than any other vegetable (at least at this moment when I have dozens of them rolling around on my counter), they play a “helper” role. An auxiliary verb helps to form the tense and voice of the main verb. Stick with me here. They combine with the main verb (or ingredients) to add texture and meaning to the sentence (or recipe).

See? Tomatoes are auxiliary verbs, they “help” express the richness of the dish. The depth of the sauce. The fullness of color. They bring out the best in basil, tarragon, parsley and oregano.

Those of you who are still reading, thank you for indulging me.

Onward. Here are a few things I’ve been doing with my invasion of tomatoes.

Freezing
Thawed tomatoes make for great additions to soups, stews and sauces (think auxiliary verb). They can be frozen in a variety of ways, but here’s how I do it. Wash, dry, core and cut the tomatoes into wedges. Place them on a cookie sheet, making sure they aren’t touching each other and stick the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in several individual freezer bags or containers, date them and put them back in the freezer for later.

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All-purpose blended tomato sauce (which I froze in separate containers)
Once again, this is a “launching pad” recipe which was created according to what I received in my CSA share on Monday. Adjust accordingly and be creative.
what you need (be creative)
8 tomatoes, washed, cored and quartered (cut off funky spots)
6 cloves garlic, chopped in chunks
2 carrots, washed and cut in chunks
1 cup chopped squash (skins included)
1/2 onion, chopped in chunks
basil, parsley and oregano
fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
* chop the veggies enough so they work in the blender

All of these ingredients, except the garlic and oregano were in my CSA box. I’m simply trying to use what I can and save the rest for later. This is a “save the rest” recipe. The basil and parsley were fresh from the farm, the oregano was dried.

what you do
Blend the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until half-way pureed. Not totally pulverized, keep some chunky stuff in there. Pour most of it into a large pot. Retain some of the tomato sauce in the blender so the rest of the ingredients have some liquid to blend with. Add the other ingredients slowly and blend well. Pour this into the pot and cook on low for an hour or so to thicken it and meld the flavors together. Season with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Let cool, pour into individual freezer containers, write the date and what it is on the container and freeze it for later. You can also freeze some of this in small ziplock freezer bags for adding to stews and soups. A cup or so of this sauce added to a soup or stew made with vegetable, chicken or beef stock is absolutely wonderful.

For a few other veggie personality profiles (and some recipes, check below)
The deadly serious beet
Punk rock kohlrabi
Rhubarb, the little tart

There you go – auxiliary verb tomatoes!
Melissa

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16 Responses to “auxiliary verbs and too many tomatoes”

  1. Brilliant grammatical analogy, Melissa! And your sauce recipe looks super easy and delish. Once upon a time when I had a sunny yard (and hence prolific garden, overflowing with tomatoes) my French Canadian sister in law taught me this ultra lazy trick: just freeze the whole darn tomato, skin and all, in bags. (Cut out navel and funky spots first, if needed.) When you are ready to use, run frozen tomato under warm water to slip off the skin, then just toss into the sauce or stew pot to melt, thaw and flavor (i.e. give your dish the auxiliary verb treatment.)

  2. Alta says:

    You are hilarious. I love the grammar references. And just because you enjoy this type of humor, I’ll let you in on something I just found out. September 24 is National Punctuation Day! For grammar freaks, this is a great day!
    As for your tomatoes, I might just have to freeze a bunch for the winter myself. Sounds much less intimidating and time-consuming than canning. And your sauce sounds wonderful and fresh. Yum!

  3. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    I love the ‘auxiliary verbs’ analogy. That’s so true. Your launchpad tomato sauce looks great and I too love putting carrots in there. It just adds that little sweet element to an otherwise quite acidic sauce. But I had no idea that tomatoes would freeze well simply segmented. Quite a revelation and there’s so much potential there. I dunno what you’re thinking but Christmas morning Bloody Marys spring to mind, for some reason. :)

    GDave

  4. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Great shot of the AV tomatoes by the way… and yes I too love tomato soups and sauces. Never occurred to me to freeze them, perhaps it’s because I don’t grow them. Have tried a couple of years back but they weren’t much good because I didn’t look after them and the weather didn’t help (always blame the weather!).

    Cid

    p.s. kitchen update…. half fitted, another two weeks before completion, a Champagne celebration and trumpet fanfare :)

  5. Linda says:

    I’ve never tried freezing tomatoes. I made some sun dried tomatoes in the oven, but freezing would be easier. Thanks for the simple but helpful idea.

  6. Melissa says:

    Alta,

    Thanks for the head’s up on National Punctuation Day. I love that! How should we celebrate?!

    :-)

  7. Melissa says:

    Gosh, I’ve been slow in my comment responses lately. Bummer, and I have so much to say!

    Diana,

    Thanks for your sweet sentiments. Yes, freeze rather than bother with canning. I love the whole tomato idea! Freezing is so much easier and makes for great last minute additions to soups and stews on those cold winter days.

  8. Melissa says:

    Oh — Alta (and everyone else), speaking of freezing vs canning, check this post which even has some nutritional stats about that.

    http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/blog/2009/09/freezing_versus_canning_while.html

  9. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    As I was making the tomato sauce to freeze for later, I wasn’t thinking Bloody Mary’s, but I was thinking spiked gazpacho!

  10. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Freezing tomatoes and chiles is the best way to go. I actually have no desire to can my tomatoes. Too much trouble. And the freezing part is so incredibly easy, I can’t believe it.

    Anxiously awaiting kitchen news.

    :-)

  11. Melissa says:

    Linda,

    Try freezing them. You’ll be amazing how well it works. And if you freeze them like this (in quarters) on a cookie sheet, they don’t stick together. You can grab 3 or 4 out of the freezer as needed. It’s a perfect way to preserve the harvest!

  12. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Kitchen update…. home straight now, about a week before oven switching on ceremony and a further three or four days before the worktop arrives. I’ve never built a whole kitchen before so it might end up being almost too good for me… will I dare use the hob? Will I be able to cook with such modern appliances? Will the kitchen take over from my mild obsession with dear Colin and the lovely Daniel…. you’ll just have to wait :)

    Cid

    p.s. when did you say you might pop over? :)

  13. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I’m seriously interested in the kitchen and can’t wait to see the finished product. But first, what’s a hob?

    Can I send you a kitchen warming gift? I want to send something to celebrate the moment. Nothing major by any means, but a US friend kitchen gadget.

    And I do believe someday I will have tea in your kitchen. Or you will be hiking in Colorado. Or, we’ll be off to an exotic locale for one of Jim Denevan’s dinners, plates in hand.

    Daniel who?
    :-)

  14. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts… perhaps when you visit there will be a little something you could bring. For instance I’m keen to try some of your exotic flours… we’ll have a baking session and laugh heartily while reading the instruction booklet to my German oven…. let’s invite Anne, she’ll be able to translate and give it a good talking to if things don’t go our way :)

    After all this time you deserve a photograph of the finished article so I’ll attempt to send one to your email address for your eyes only. I’ve told my resident odd job man that you and the gang in Colorado have been very supportive of the build and resultant stress… took a while before he believed me. Here goes something like the conversation…

    me: ‘Melissa is fabulous, she’s following the kitchen build’

    him: ‘Who?’

    me: ‘Melissa from Colorado… my nutritionist friend’

    him: ‘you mean real people in Colorado are interested in your nonsense?’

    me: ‘Absolutely, inbetween climbing mountains and a full time job, she’s put everything on hold for all the latest gossip’

    him: ‘you attract these sorts don’t you… eccentric and fabulous’

    me: ‘yes, my mad hats and blog comments haven’t put the likes of Melissa off and what’s more, Jim Denevan has asked us to join him on the beach for a spot of doodling and we’ve got to take our own plates’

    him: ‘who’s Jim and hasn’t he got enough on his plate without you two?’

    me: ‘Apparently not…. look you’ve missed a bit, get back to work while I let the good people of Golden know what’s going on :)

    Cid

    p.s. A hob is what you might call a stove top… mine’s an induction and made in the US. Daniel who….the lovely Daniel Craig of course, who will very likely want to be included in the kitchen shot (I can already hear the mutterings from Mr Odd Job), so look out for a tuxedo clad gent casually lurking behind the pantry door!

  15. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    You have brightened my cold and still-dark morning. Reading these comments at the crack of dawn have lifted my spirits — actually, I laughed out loud.

    Thank you for the humorous narration. You should be a screen play writer. Your word choices are wonderful. Good one, Cid.

    Yes, I definitely want pictures. I’d love it. I can only imagine how creative the end product will be, settled into an old, charming English home. The eccentric mix of colors, fabrics and wonderful smells from the kitchen.

    I’ve definitely followed your Daniel Craig interest and knew who you were referring to. My “Daniel who” comment was in reference to your very clever “Ray who” comment after you watched the video on Jim Denevan. Did any of that make sense?! Moving right along to the next favorite food, film, farm or wilderness crush.

    :-)

  16. I read this one, Melissa, but forgot to come back and comment. I’m so glad I did, so I could read Cid’s great post with the delightful conversation between Cid and her husband. ;-)

    Now, regarding your post, I love the auxiliary verb analogy. :-) I’ve frozen tomatoes before, but in 2-cup packages for soup, chili, etc. It worked great, but I like your single serve/use as much as you want method a lot better.

    Thanks!
    Shirley

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