Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Toomanytomatoes

too.many.tomatoes

Seriously lets talk about this, cause its been foremost in my mind and my mouth for about 2 weeks now. After Mom and Dad sent a box to us about 10 days ago via a friend who happened to be traveling this way, they came themselves for a visit over the weekend. This time with a bigger box. The pride and joy of their garden by the river was overflowing with delicious potential.

garden.gifts

Something that you need to understand is that my Dad giving us food, particularly fruits and vegetables, is a language of love. It's always been. You fell down and got hurt? Here, eat. You wrecked the car and I've already yelled at you for 3 days? Here, eat. Bad day? Here, eat. Lost the house you wanted to buy? Here, eat. Pregnant? Here, eat. Pregnant again? Here, eat. But the joy he finds in offering the fruits of his own labor is something all together different. I tried to get a quick shot of him with the glowing red beauties, but he barely let me get one before he invited anyone nearby to be in the picture with him. Then everyone makes like posing with the tomatoes is just what we wanted to do. Of course.

for.the.neighbors

This little gathering went to the neighbors and likely I'll still need to take more to them later today. Our favorite way to eat them fresh, and the only way we ate them in my house growing up, is common Greek salad style. In most of Greece you would be hard pressed to find a leaf of lettuce served anywhere. The salad is always what some refer to as a village salad and no lettuce is permitted. Ours goes like this: fresh tomatoes peeled, cored and rough cut, large-chopped white onion, peeled & large-chopped cucumber, oregano (high mountain Greek is the best), salt, salt, salt, generous pour of olive oil (which lucky me gets from my dad's own olive trees near his home in Greece!-that's another post). Occasionally you would toss in a few Kalamata olives, and garnish with a large cut of feta. The most beautifully delicious part is the fresh mingling of juices and flavors at the bottom of the bowl which can only be eaten by the dunking of a (torn) piece of dense bread. Slicing even the best bread is completely missing the point of how to eat this. It must be torn, so that its a thick enough nugget to absorb the concoction at the bottom of the bowl. Bread has always been an eating utensil in our family.

open.window.chopping

Our tomatoes, however, have begun to outnumber the possible chances at fresh salads. So this morning once all the kids were off to their 3rd day of school, and the house was nice and quiet, I opened a window and began peeling, coring, chopping and cooking down. Maybe a soup. Perhaps just some sauce to freeze. Haven't decided yet. But the smell of the simmering sweet gifts coming from the kitchen and the song of the cicadas outside has me feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

xoAM

78 comments:

  1. Mmm, I love tomatoes! I make Gazpacho, fresh spaghetti sauce (not the mashed, pureed kind!) and tabbouleh when I have a surplus of tomatoes.

    Lucky you!

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  2. Yum. Just yesterday I made salsa with our abundant supply of tomatoes.

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  3. your dad sounds like my grandma. I have to say...those are some gorgeous tomatoes!! I sooooo heart the long picture hanging in the diningroom!!!!!!! Is everything in your house GORGEOUS??? pOST about the ugly things in your house..lol

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  5. Make a savory tomato tart! Or caprese salad! Or roast them on low in your oven until they've sweetened and caramelized a bit into sun dried tomatoes. . . Oh I had too many tomatoes too!

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  6. THANK YOU for putting pics/entire post on the RSS feeds. I often skip blogs that I can't read in Google Reader if I'm short on time, but now I can read yours daily!

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  7. wow that's a lot of t'maters! (and wow your school starts early!)

    I'm hungry for lunch and your greek salad/bread description about killed me! Yum!

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  8. Your dad sounds like my husbands late grandma! I miss her...the tomatoes look wonderful! Here's a recipe for a Chorizo-Bean soup. You can add more ingredients to make a bigger batch:

    1/2 onion
    2 large cloves garlic, mashed
    2 chorizo sausages, diced & cooked
    diced tomatoes (as many as you want)
    sautee the above to make a base for the soup adding in the following when onions get to the carameli-like consistency:
    12 oz water
    a few shakes of italian seasoning
    1Tbsp cumin
    2 cubes chicken bullion
    salt & pepper to taste.
    1 can pinto beans
    1 can canellini beans
    It's a yummy ragu-like soup fragrant and...well frankly typing this is making me hungry! It's quick and easy to make. Serve with crusty bread ;) Enjoy!

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  9. nutmegg11:37 AM

    There is no such thing as too many fresh tomatoes. Just not enough time. This reminds me of living on my aunt's farm for a year. I picked a bushel basket a day, and I didn't even like tomatoes. After a week, I was in love. I made 20 quarts of pasta sauce and 5 lbs of sun-dried tomatoes. And my fingernails fell off.
    Love you, love your blog!

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  10. Those tomatoes look absolutely fantastic! I would love to have a few. My hubby's vine did not produce many this year and the ones it did produce were very small. Now I will tell you my favorite way to eat tomatoes. A tomatoe sandwich! Yes, that's right. I grew up on tomatoe sandwiches. Just toast two slices of bread, spread each with mayonnaise, sprinkle on some salt and you have a fantastic sandwich! Lots of people here in my hometown in Alabama eat them!

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  11. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Oh do you think it is tooooo far to walk from California to share in your tomatoes????? Just that yummy. And as a new poster I have to share what joy you have added to my life. My daughter called me a few weeks ago and asked "Mom...do you think I can make a quilt?". Now you have to know that I am a QUILT TEACHER and she has never had an interest...UNTIL she started reading your posts. You opened her mind and heart with your inspiration and she has finished her first quilt and with the left over fabric we both worked on your "Martha Stewart" project. As a newlywed in a one bedroom apt. it touched my heart that she has found her creative spirit. THANK YOU THANK YOU and THANK YOU again. XXX Annelies in San Diego

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  12. YUM! They all look so good. How about some grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato slices? Or my favorite is home made tomato soup. If ya know anyone driving by way of AZ, please send a few my way :)

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  13. This is the kind of problem I love to have. I have been making and eating loads of tomates a la provençale. The kids are getting sick of it but I'm not.

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  14. Sandi Henderson12:27 PM

    Hmm.. I don't Anna- this post has just in some way made me happy. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I am now smiling and feeling all happy and calm. Can you please bottle this post in drinkable form?

    :)
    sandi

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  15. so much goodness in this post...

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  16. Oooh those are gorgeous tomatoes! What's your dad's secret?!

    Another idea: mix it up with some fresh basil and mozzarella, and some EVOO! Some sort of bruschetta could be good too :-)

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  17. I am so JEALOUS! Frozen sauce to last all winter long!

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  18. Num num num. My mouth is watering for your Greek salad!!!!

    I am with Heather... grilled cheese with sliced tomatoes. Deeeelish!

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  19. Simone2:19 PM

    Your dad and my mom could feed a small army! There is something about fresh food hand grown by a loving parent.....

    Enjoy! They look delish!

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  20. My mom always canned tomatoes for use during the winter months for making things like chilis, spaghetti sauces, etc. All I remember is that it took a long time and she usually burned and cut herself a few times in the process.

    Plus, I have no idea how to can.

    But the pictures are beautiful! :-)

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  21. Even just pureed and frozen to use in a later season is so very, very wonderful! Also, sun-dried—good stuff.

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  22. I was up late last night making sauce with meatballs to use up our tomato bounty. Yum!

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  23. I roast them in the oven with olive oil then freeze them to have all winter.

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  24. Wonderful tomatoes! I miss having lots of tomatoes from the garden and I love Greek salat just the way you make it. I grew up in Germany and we had fantastic Greek friends who made it like that as well Ummm... I think I will have some Greek salat tonight with fresh bread....

    Love your blog by the way!Beautiful fabrics!! :0)

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  25. Your Dad is so cute! Can't you send us virtual tomatoes? Yum!

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  26. It must be a generation thing! My Nanna is the same, bless her cotton socks. I am more about the eating than the growing but it is something I want to do, one day. Great post!!!

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  27. I don't know about Greece but I know Alabama and food really is love! I totally agree and I often find myself looking with pride at my three as they eat something I've made, it feels good, huh? Anyway, enjoy the bounty. How bout trying my fave, eating a tomato like and apple, just bite into it, :)

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  28. oh lovely! bottles of passata stored in the pantry for winter : )

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  29. oh... do that thing they do in Italy... with the tomatos all over:D
    No, just make jam!

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  30. i refuse to believe that there is such a thing as "too many tomatoes". send some my way. our crop was a pooper this year.

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  31. I am so jealous!!! That greek salad you described sounds AWESOME! My tomatoes are all getting eaten up by the deer :(

    I can't believe school is already in swing there!!

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  32. Beautiful!!!
    they are real???
    kisses,
    Paula
    From Brasil

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  33. mmmmm... tomatoes.

    My husband spent his summers with his Grammy on the farm in Ontario. She fed him sliced tomatoes sprinkled with sugar.

    Haven't tried it? You should. Seriously. You will be amazed and then, you can add tomatoes to the dessert menu.

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  34. You lucky, lucky girl! Enjoy those wonderful looking fresh Tennessee summer tomatoes while you can! I loved your Greek salad recipe... makes me hungry :) I posted your "winning" collage today and it will be on its way to you soon! Thanks again for your beautiful fabrics and kind words too Anna. Keep in touch!

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  35. i'm jealous! my garden is JUST starting to give us tomatoes! and just the little ones, right now.
    i love eating them sliced with a little salt and a little mayonaise on toasted tomato sammiches.

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  36. Mmmmmmm, it's definitely tomato time! I just came in from my garden where I had my lunch - a pita pocket lightly brushed with mayo and stuffed with sliced & salted tomatoes fresh from our bushes. A lunch like that just sings, "summmer!!"

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  37. Oh, the greek salad sounds delicious. Especially the torn bread part. Yum.

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  38. We will all be there tomorrow for tomatoes!!
    You should have the kids set up a roadside stand!

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  39. Yum Yum... there is nothing better then tomatoes that taste like tomatoes :) Soup would be so yummy out of tomatoes that taste like tomatoes:)

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  40. Thanks always for this little dose of family love. Food and Family, a winning combination!

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  41. This recipe for tomato pie was in the paper today. I had never heard of a tomato pie before!!!

    Makes 6 servings
    1 9-inch pie crust, thawed if frozen
    3 large ripe tomatoes (or more, if needed)
    Salt, pepper and fresh basil to taste
    2 cups grated cheese (Cheddar or any combination)
    ½ cup mayonnaise (light is OK)
    Preheat oven to 450°.

    Bake pie crust for 5 minutes, then remove from oven. Reduce heat to 400°.

    Slice tomatoes and, if they are juicy, drain in a colander or blot on paper towels. Place in pie shell. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil.

    In a small bowl, mix cheese and mayonnaise. Spread over tomatoes.

    Bake pie for 30-35 minutes.

    Notes from Sarah Sikes: You can use any cheese. I like to mix Swiss or Parmesan with Cheddar. Sometimes I do a layer of tomatoes, sprinkle on ¼ to ½ cup cheese, then add another layer and top with mixture of remaining cheese and mayonnaise. I'm going to try it next with cooked bacon.

    Note from Jann Malone: Two cooks tried this recipe. The one who pressed the tomato slices in a colander to eliminate some juice loved the results.

    The one who did not drain the tomato slices got a watery pie. Conclusion: It pays to drain juicy tomatoes. -- Adapted by Sarah Sikes from the "Black Creek Community To mato Cookbook" by the Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department Ladies' Auxiliary, Mechanicsville

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  42. YUM! Sounds like a tomato-y quiche!

    xoAM

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  43. Oh nothing says summer quite the way homegrown tomatoes do! I love them with fresh cheese and chopped basil and EVOO. And in tomato pie and in a fresh pasta and and and...I'm jealous!Even the heirloom in my local grocery don't taste the same.

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  44. Oh, holy cow, I may have found a salad I like!I always wondered if there was a way to ditch the lettuce.

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  45. You almost have a one ton tomato collection! Listen to this song (a favorite to request when in Mexico)!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl0AUQiDMm0&feature=related

    Stacy

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  46. Yum! We've had so much rain lately that my poor little tomatoes have been slow to ripen in the sun. Count yourself lucky!

    If you're looking for something else to make, the first thing that came to my mind was a tomato tart that I saw in MS Living last summer. Sorry I can't be more specific, but trust me, it looked delicious!

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  47. I'll trade you some zucchini & cucumbers for some tomatoes!! We live out in the boonies but for some reason I just cannot grow any tomatoes out here! Oodles of cucumbers (I need to learn how to make pickles) and we usually have zucchini through October!

    I agree with Sandi, this post makes me smile! I definitely want to read about your Dad's olive oil....you lead a blessed life dear Anna Maria!!
    Dani :)

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  48. I will be making pasta sauce from the bushels of tomatoes from our garden.
    Your pictures are truly works of original tomato art!

    peace,
    amy

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  49. I love tomatos with fresh basil and Mozz.

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  50. I also feel so silly when I end up reading a post with such a silly smile like this I have now, lol... Thanks!

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  51. YUM! I could go for some of that salad right now! I used to work for a Costacos and he would bring me huge bricks of feta and I would be in heaven! Enjoy some for me. (By the way, I am so enjoying making gifts from your book. Now sewing wool when it is 105 is silly, but I am having sew much fun! Thanks!)

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  52. Oh your greek salad sounds so good... so... mediterranean! Fresh tomatoes are the best! ::Jill

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  53. Tomato basil salad comes to mind when I see all those tomatos! Oooh and tomato sandwiches!

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  54. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Did you know that you can freeze whole? Just put them peel and all in good freezer bags. Then when you are ready to use take them out of the freezer. Wash each one with a little warm water and rub the peel. The peel will just rub off and you have whole tomatoes for soups or sauces. I promise it works great!

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  55. My husband is Greek and it made me laugh when you talked about mopping up the juices with bread because it was one of the first things he taught me about their food. We get bucket loads of gorgeous tomatoes from his parents in Summer and I love them cooked down, slow roasted or just fresh on toast with a little basil pesto and some shavings of pecorino - mmmmmmm! We also have had much beautiful olive oil from their family olive farm on Crete which is of course perfect with those tomatoes. Which reminds me - lunch at Yia yia's tomorrow!

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  56. My mouth is watering. Bread - cheese - tomatoes, deeelish.

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  57. Your dad is awesome!
    How about making salsa?
    Or cut some of the more firm ones in half and grill them, adding a bit of parmesan cheese towards the end of cooking...heavenly!
    A tomato tart might be yummy, too!
    Or bruschetta! There's nothing like toasted Italian bread slices with freshly chopped tomatoes on top.

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  58. Count your blessings here! My parents used to plant 24 tomato plants in their huge garden. There was only 6 people in the family just to give you scale on how crazy 24 plants were. any way they are gone now, and those days are a cherished memory. Thanks -tj

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  59. CindyG11:15 AM

    Fresh tomatoes are awesome! We were "gifted" with a box although not as many as you have from my mom this weekend. I've cut them up and thrown them on just about "anything" I've been eating this week. My tomatoe garden didn't do well this year for some reason. The zinnias are good, but the tomoatoes, not so much!! And eating is a great comfort in my family as well!! And hasn't it been so nice that school has started?

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  60. OMG...your father's tomatoes look absolutely yummy! I dearly LOVE tomatoes (real tomatoes, that is). We plant a garden every year and have always enjoyed the "nectar of the Gods", but this year with the early spring rains our garden was under water for over a week and not much survived. We have gotten a "few" tomatoes, but they just don't have the taste of last year's. It is so sad to go out and look at our poor garden. :( Thanks for sharing the pics of your beautiful tomatoes. Happy Eating! :)

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  61. Oh my, that Greek salad description of yours has me drooling all over the keyboard!!

    There really is nothing like home-grown veg, especially when it's been grown with love :)

    I thought I had a lot of tomatoes and we've only picked about twenty so far!!

    xxx

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  62. This sounds so familiar, when I started reading it I thought her dad sounds Italian!But I was a little off- My grandfather seemed to spend half the time finding something in the garden for us to eat, and had a little pocket knife in his jacket ready to slice a little nibble of something for us to try, and I now, as a mother, understand the pleasure of popping a strawberry into a eager mouth any the comfort of a warm slice of chocolate cake!

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  63. Love this post about the tomatoes. my parents were born in Italy and every year we can tomatoes. Two years ago we did it at my house and my two boys got to help and experience the joy and love of doing it together. I think I showed you my slideshow I made. (if you remember). anyway, we hope to do it again soon in a couple weeks. the NJ tomatoes are great right now. I have about 6 plants in my garden but not enough to do as many jars as I want and so we buy them from a farm. Thanks for making me smile today.

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  64. i do not know how often you get a chance to visit other's blogs, but i was catching up here and just read about your toomanytomatoes. i just posted a recipe of how we used our extras. it comes with a delicious juicy emulsion perfect for wiping up with hunks of bread. feel free to try it if you get a chance, soo good.

    http://mamieknits.blogspot.com/2008/08/as-summer-rolls-along-and-days-fly-by-i.html

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  65. Your dad's a real cutie! I have a dad like that too, except as a landscaper, he shows his love by planting trees and shrubs. (When he compliments my gardens, I'm over the moon as this is the highest compliment Dad could give me.)

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  66. My dad is the same! ....especially about the tomatoes. I read an article on you in Mary Engelbreit's magazine. I love your bright and inspiring fabrics and very glad to see you have a blog!

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  67. Anna, I can so relate with food being a language of love. Esp. a drippy, salty and peppery, fresh from the garden tomato sandwich. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  68. Anonymous12:19 AM

    your Dad is the cutest! he looks like Santa bringing summer's presents...tomatoes!

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  69. That's eat. We are having a chunk of feta for breakfast. Not even joking.

    And could your father adopt me, please?

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  70. I am captivated by this loving post of family life. I suddenly feel the urge to go into my kitchen and whip up something fabulous. Thank-You for sharing such a delightful peek into your life.

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  71. Anonymous5:09 PM

    man do they look good!

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  72. Anonymous5:09 PM

    man do they look good!

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