Tag Archives: recipes

TGIW: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

by Libby Sternberg

This must be how they get in.

This must be how they get in.

The tomato army has arrived. They’re stealthy. We find them hiding under foliage, glinting red in the shadows, just waiting. Waiting to march, to attack, to take over….at least the kitchen.

Although we only have a few tomato plants, they produce baskets full of fruit. Which reminds me of that old adage…Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad. (Or maybe wisdom is knowing how to use fruit and tomatoes together.) But I digress….

So, I’ve been looking for things to cook/make with tomatoes. I love tomato, mozzarella salad, and am fond of a version using grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls in a basil-heavy vinaigrette with thinly sliced red onions. Speaking of thinly sliced, we are fond of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, but MLTs not so much. (Actually, I’ve never tried one.):

Having so many tomatoes finally inspired me to do something I’ve never ever ever ever done before. In my entire life. That is….peel a tomato! To make tomato sauce from scratch. Peeling a tomato, it turns out, is pretty easy. You need to shock them, and they lose their skins faster than Joe Nichols’s girlfriend sheds her clothes after throwing back some  Patron.

I asked my daughter-in-law, who is of Sicilian heritage, for a good recipe, and she was kind enough to pass along her father’s. But I wimped out on following his directions for my first time, because it sounded as if you needed to have the right touch and taste to get it right. I’ll try his for my next batch:

For 6 people, use 6 ripe tomatoes, 1 can peeled tomato, half bunch of basil, half bunch of parsley, 5 garlic cloves,  3 oz of parmigiano cheese, 3 oz olive oil, salt and pepper. Dip the tomatoes in hot water for few minute, then peel and chop in very small pieces, chop the can tomatoes and use the juice, too; chop the rest of the ingredients and mix everything; taste if you need more salt and olive oil. Add oregano.

I ended up at Smitten Kitchen. They have pictures! So I was able to see what the tomatoes are supposed to look like, etc. Here’s the link to their recipe.

The sauce before it was blended.

The sauce before it was blended.

At the end, I blended all my sauce ingredients in a food processor after cooking. And I have to say, we really enjoyed the result. The sauce actually tasted like….tomatoes! Not like salt, not like sugar, not like something with a metallic overtone. Next time, I’ll follow my daughter-in-law’s father’s instructions because I think mine could have used more garlic and basil. And there will be a next time. The basket is already full with another army of tomatoes.

In case you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, it’s the title of an epic film that, oddly enough, never won any Oscars. I’m particularly fond of its catchy theme song.

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. Please buy her books so she can buy more tomato plants next year.

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I am not crafty

This is why I don’t do crafts.

I had this idea to gather the various recipes I’ve jammed in cookbooks on notebook paper over the years and to organize them. So I have this black plastic binder, left over from who knows what, and I punch holes in the recipe papers to insert in said binder. So far, so good. I’m using up something old, I’m doing the organizing. I’m very proud of myself.

But then I think: this binder looks so blah, and I have some material left over from a time I tried to make a slip cover for a wing chair cushion (“tried” is the key word – do you detect a pattern?)….  And wouldn’t this binder be so sweet and homey and cute every time I pull it out to use a recipe if it looks like something other than leftover office supplies?

So I cut out a rectangle of fabric for the cover for this binder, but the fabric was wrinkled-looking. Back in the day, I might have been okay with that, but now, I’ve decided I’m going to do this right. Ironing! That’s the solution!

Turns out it’s one of those “Goldilocks” fabrics, though, where the temperature on the iron has to be just right in order for the wrinkles to come out and the fabric-like qualities to stay in. Ahem.

Okay, so one piece of the fabric now has a slight imprint on it  that looks like the bow of a ship. That’s okay. Since this project is all about not wasting materials, it will do. It’s just a light image, after all. The kind of thing where you look at it and think, is something off there or is it my eyes?

Moving on, I apply glue to the front of the binder and smooth the fabric over that section. I then set a big, heavy pot on top of it to make sure the fabric stays stuck to the binder.

The picture tells the tale. First of all, the glue isn’t really drying. Maybe it’s not the kind of glue you use with plastic binders and cloth with odd plastic-like qualities? Second of all, you can see the pattern of the glue through this fabric! And it’s heavy stuff. It feels like a double burlap bag. It’s like woven steel. You could probably build a house with it! (Especially if you iron it first, bringing out its stiffer aspects.) Yet it’s transparent enough to show the glue lines? What the what the…. Maybe the military should learn about this fabric…

Notice the glue swirls. How is this possible?

End of craft experiment for me. Next time I’m at the mall, I’m buying a nice recipe book I can throw my papers in, something already manufactured by people who know how to work with fabric and irons and glue, who have the skill set I was obviously not born with. I’ll step away from the glue gun…before another innocent binder gets hurt.

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