Monday, August 29, 2011

More Ramblings - Plus Frozen Squozen Maters - Part Deux

Well, we had a perfectly awesome weekend...

Pretty low-key, overall, but we did spend Saturday Morning over at Leo's house to "supervise" the mast-raising/rigging procedure for Albatross. It went well and I think he "gets" it. He just needed a little boost of confidence - which we were more than happy to provide...

Then we came home for some serious Poolsize-Lazing...

Princess Annie Supervised!

So, after an afternoon of heavy-duty poolside lazing, DH decided to fire up the grill. We had:

The Bestest Salad Ever, followed by thin-cut, smoked pork-chops (already-smoked - from the grocery store), which I'd lightly glazed with real maple syrup. Hubs warmed 'em on the grill: 5 mins one side, then flipped 'em over and cooked for another 3 mins. We served them buried in my (warmed!) Sweet-Corn-Apple-Relish. And I totally cheated and went with nukable side-dishes: Fresh Garlic-Butter Green Beans and Mashed 'Taters (both pre-made from the store - sorry!) (Yes, I'm a cheater! But my Farmshare Beans kinda, well, ended up being compost!). And we *shoulda* followed up dinner with a slice of my Orgasmic Peach-Blueberry Pie (Ooh - with Vanilla Ice Cream!), but we were so full from dinner, we skipped dessert!

Unfortunately, no pics of dinner - but it was both beautiful *and* delicious! Even hubs gave it a big Thumb's-Up (and he's a pretty traditional "Meat and Potatoes" kinda guy!). Just envision a pork chop buried under a mound of colorful corn relish. Pile of beans and a wad o' mashed taters on the side!

Gawd - That relish was sooooo good, I am seriously considering whipping up another batch before Corn Season is over! It's a ton 'o work, but definitely worth it!

* * * * *

Soooooo... On to Sunday! Sunday sorta turned into Run-Errands and Do-Chores. I spent about an hour at Home Depot, torturing myself by looking at tiles again. I found a bathroom wall-tile that I like - color is dead-on for matching the tub and not detracting from the "accent tile." But it's $4.90/sq ft which totally blows the budget. I'll probably yammer about that in a separate post - but the "cut to the chase" version is: I *did* find a tile that is "damn close" at Home Depot for only $0.99/sq ft. But I can't decide if it's "close enough!" :::sigh:::

Once I stopped torturing myself over the bathroom remodel (Tiles... Tiles... Tiles... Fixtures... Fixtures... Fixtures... AACK!!!), I wandered out to the Garden Dept and picked up a bag of potting soil (need to pot-up some house-plants and probably "freshen" the soil in the upside-down planters), and some composted steer manure (Yummmm!) Steer Manure will be tossed onto the straw-bale bed which will be revived for Cool-Season Veggies.

In the meantime, Hubs was busy with yard-work. Mowing, Blowing, Edging, Yada-yada. Dogs usually stay inside while all of this is going on. Once he finishes, he lets 'em out.

Welllllllllll.... *Somebody* forgot to close the Garden Gate!!!

No. Tazz is NOT pregnant!

Tazz the Spazz is THE most opportunistic little Food-Hoe EVAR! I can just imagine her sheer giddiness and glee when she raced outside and saw that *The Gate* (Leading to Heaven / All-You-Can-Eat-Splendor) was open. That little sh*t gorged herself on rotting peaches until she was about ready to burst!!!

I always swore she'd eat herself to death. And I suspect she came DAMN close, yesterday! Frankly, I'm amazed I didn't catch her in the act! But she is so worrisome and paranoid that, I suspect, as soon as she heard the back-door open, she ran OUT of the garden so as not to be scolded.

Nevertheless, her "sin" was QUITE clear to me! (and the look she gets on her face when she is "Busted" is absolutely priceless) (and can't be adequately captured on camera, unfortunately!). So I hustled her back into the house - briefly.

"Uhhh, Babe? C'mere and take a look at Tazz, would'ja?"

"Oh... My... GOD!!!"

"Uhh, yeah. *Somebody* left the Garden Gate open!

"Holy sh*t! You better get her outside!"

"Uh huh!"

Tazz. Sleeping off her "Afternoon Bender"

On the Plus Side: I probably don't have as many rotting peaches to rake-up and dispose-of!!!

Amazingly, she managed to digest everything (either that or - well, I don't want to think about the alternative - but we *did* keep her outside all day!). She is back to her normal, trim ("Oh-My-Gawd-I'm-STARVING!!!") self today...

* * * * *

Allrighty then! That brings us to TODAY and the "recipe du jour" - such as it is!!!

The tomatoes continue to multiply and they've been piling up in my bucket on the sink. I am about "Saladed-Out" at this point. I've run out of Balsamic Vinegar so that rules out my Tomato/Mozzarella/Basil/Balsamic/Olive Oil Caprese Thingy. BLT's only taste good when somebody ELSE makes 'em. And I'm too lazy to make Finny's Tomato Sausage Pie (although I *will* before summer ends - I swear). Well, crap. I know she posted the recipe but I can't find it easily (wish Blogger had a "Search" function - oh, well!). When/If I find it, I'll post it!

Addendum: Found it! (BTW - This was the post where I first "discovered" Finny's Blog. It was linked from another blog that I followed and now I'm a Full-on Finny-Fan!)


The Maters are taking over the kitchen (and some are starting to compost themselves - ooooops!). And I don't feel like eating them at the moment (:::gasp:::). Yet, I hate to let them go to waste! I already have a GALLON of frozen-squozen 'maters in the freezer and I decided, this afternoon, that I want some frozen, NON-squozen (aka Mostly Chunky) maters this time around.

I don't know about you - but whenever I make Pasta Sauce, I like to include "chunky" tomatoes. Ideally, fresh, but I've been know to buy Organic Diced "Italian Style" Canned tomatoes at the store - to add a little texture to my sauce (BTW - I'm not a total Birkenstock-Wearing/Tree-Hugging/Prius-Driving/Whole-Foods-Shopping Organic Phreak or anything like that... But I *do* try to avoid foods sweetened with High-Fructose Corn Syrup, so "organic" canned krep is the way to go...).

Sooooo... I consulted this site for some general guidelines on how to freeze tomatoes. Great, illustrated site (although she's using nice, uniformly-sized Plum Tomatoes). I, OTOH, was using a wide variety of Heirloom Tomatoes, so my illustrations aren't so "nice!"

Anyway, here's what I did:

I started with a bunch of non-rotting tomatoes :-)

Soon to be Freezer-Fodder!

Weighed 'em - just for sh*ts 'n grins...

I'm calling this 4#

Set up a pot of boiling water for blanching, and a bowl for ice water, like thus:

It's like a Hot-Tub for Produce, right?!

Uhh, maybe not!

Boil 'em til the skins start to split (30-60 seconds). Then plunge them into an ice bath:

"Refreshing!" (NOTTT!!!)

Important Notes: I think, if I were to do this again, I would cut-out/core the green stem-end *before* I started blanching them. This would expedite the "peeling" process (and minimize the "cooking!"). Seems like the 'maters want to float topside-up. And it seems like the skins are easiest to peel from the "top." What I ended up with was tough-tops (that didn't want to peel easily) and squishy underbellies...

After blanching, the skins *should* peel right off:

"Ick!" (Wait! It gets worse!)
RolyPig, the Composter will be happy, though!

End up with a bunch of NEKKID 'MATERS!!!

Produce Porn!

Next, you need to de-seed them...

Helps if you cut 'em across the "equator"

The aforementioned site mentioned trying to save the juice. Uhhh, no! It all went into the sink. Pretty much, the procedure is, expose the innards by slicing it, then squeeze it with your hands to get the juice and *most* of the seeds out. Messy!

Ewwww!!! Not very appetizing, is it?!

End up with a bowl-full of de-seeded, partially squozen 'maters...

I'm calling it roughly 2# at this point...

I chopped 'em down til they were a bit more uniform in size. Probably ended up with 1/4-1/2" chunks, overall. I wasn't super-anal about getting rid of ALL the seeds, but I think I got most of 'em. I also squoze out most of the juice because I mainly wanted to preserve the "meaty-chunks" of tomato (I've got plenty of Saucy Stuff to work with!).

After that, I bagged 'em for the freezer:

Labeled and Ready to Freeze!

I think it'll be WAY COOL to make "fresh" tomato sauce in the middle of winter - using my very own home-grown produce!!!

This really is the first year I've ever done any significant "preserving." Yeah, I'd kinda tried to freeze peaches and made frozen strawberry jam. And - much as I'd like to - I can't ever forget my Plum Jam Debacle! But I think I've done a pretty amazing job of stocking-up for winter this year. I'm actually kinda proud of myself! :-)

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