Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And then there were two tomatoes

Knowing I had about a dozen or so tomatoes left after canning and eating them, I had my mind set on making tomato soup. The hardest part of tomato soup is making sure it doesn't taste like a thin tomato sauce or marinara, so I tried to stay away from recipe's the called for a lot of basil. Originally I was seeking roasted tomato soup recipes, but decided on a Tomato, Dill and White Cheddar Soup from Sunday Soup (a cookbook that was a gift and has some really great soups- and I LOVE soup).

I did make a couple changes to the recipe. First, I used diced fresh tomatoes rather than canned. Second, I used a mixture of yellow onion, red onion, and shallot rather than leeks, because I already had them in the house. And last, I halved the recipe so I could use just what I had for tomatoes.

2 cups onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

8-10 tomatoes, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
3-4 tablespoons dill, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
White Cheddar Cheese

Saute the onions and garlic until onions are soft and transluscent. Add tomatoes, broth, dill, cayenne, salt & pepper. Simmer in pot for about 20 minutes, until tomatoes are soft.

Transfer, in batches if necessary, to food processor.

Once you've reached your desired smoothness (I left mine a little chunky), transfer back to the pot on low heat. Once the is simmering again, whisk in the sour cream.

Serve with a few pieces of thinly shaved white cheddar cheese (I used Cabot Sharp Cheddar)

This soup isn't a thick or smooth tomato, but it's very flavorful and not too thin. It's great on it's own but the cheddar really enchances the creaminess and rounds out the flavors. I have a feeling that it'll taste even better once it has sat overnight.

And now there are just two tomatoes left from that big batch I brought home with me. Not sure what I will do with those ones yet. Maybe eat them with some mozzarella and basil.

What's your favorite late summer/fall soup?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a few hours on Monday afternoon canning tomatoes.

This was only my second time canning anything ever. The first time was the salsa I made last year, which was pretty disappointing. The idea behind canning the tomatoes was that I like to make my own salsa and sauces, so why not preserve the fresh ingredients of the summer for later consumption? This time, I thought if I can tomatoes in their own juices I could use them for pretty much anything.

It's a much easier process than you'd think; I used instructions from Ball. Basically you wash and heat the jars and lids. You blanch the tomatoes and pull their skins off, leaving them whole or cutting them into halves or quarters.

Add a tablespoon of lemon juice (to balance the acidity), and pack them tightly into the jars. Put the lids on, and drop the full jars into boiling water for 40 minutes.

I ended up processing 6 pint jars of tomatoes. I didn't want to do more just in case it doesn't work the way I want it to. It'd be a shame to waste all though tomatoes (like I did with last years iffy salsa that I still have a couple jars of).

My only concern is that the tomatoes have mostly risen to the tops of the jars, leaving some liquid separation at the bottom. From what I understand this is normal, but I wouldn't want to poison anybody.

Luckily there are still a whole bunch of tomatoes left over to eat on their own, in salads, in salsa, and perhaps to make tomato soup.

Don't they look perfect?

Do you have any experience preserving tomatoes? Is this separation normal?
What kinds of things do you like to preserve?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vacation and Sonnets

So I've been on vacation for the last week. It's been pretty relaxing despite the several days of rain smack dab in the middle.

During the first weekend I helped my roommate housesit for friends of ours down in Warwick RI. They've practically got a farm's worth of animals; 2 dogs and 3 cats to be exact. As a bonus they have a backyard and a legit grill; so I spent most of the weekend reading, sunning myself, going for walks with the dogs, and eating delicious grilled food.

Monty. He's like a lion!

Dogs, cats, and humans living in harmony

Beef kabobs with tomato, mushroom, & red onion. And red potato kebabs to go with them.
I also went home to Springfield for a night to hang out with my parents. We checked out the new(ish) Mama Iguana's . Not bad. The atmosphere and decorations were fun, the free chips and salsa were "eh ok," but the food was pretty good. I had Tacos Atun, sesame encrusted seared ahi tuna with slaw and wasabi aioli. And to drink, michelada, a Tecate beer with a splash of hot sauce, lime, and a salt rim (yum!)

Today I'm spending the afternoon canning some tomatoes. My father buys large boxes of farm fresh tomatoes a few times a year. And this time, he ended up with a box double his usual size for just $10. I was lucky enough to get to take a number of those tomatoes with me when I left yesterday. Last year I tried canning salsa but wasn't thrilled with how it came out. So this time, I'm going to can tomatoes in their own juices so I can make whatever I want with it later in the fall/winter (salsa, sauce, soup, etc).

I've done a lot of eating out and hope I can get myself back on track as I return to the real world.

And last but not least. You're wondering about the sonnet. Well I accidentally challenged Jessica to write one last night. It's complicated to explain how this happened, but it's not an unlikely circumstance for us. I had no doubt that she is clever and witty, but I was admittedly happily surprised by the sonnet she wrote in just 30 minutes time about Body Glide. Check it out here: Untitled 30 Min. Body Glide Sonnet

Awesome huh? Ha ha Good Job Jessica!