Friday, August 10, 2007
I've gone to the other side with regard to homegrown produce.
Back in the day, before I became the garden dork I am today, I was of the "That's nice mom, sure I'll take another Food 4 Less sack full of whatever is growing out of control in your garden even though I can't imagine how I'll eat it all." camp.
I would accept this muddy sack of produce miscellany with the enthusiasm one might have toward a sack of old clothes. Sure, I could go to the store and buy clothes that I know I like and will wear OR I can just take these random ones that will probably fit me but might take some creativity to actually make use of.
To put it plainly, it did not excite me. Frankly, it stressed me out. I mean, first, who can eat *that* much zucchini (a question I still wrestle with) and what the hell is *this* thing and I can't eat two quart sized bags of cherry tomatoes and oh my word why are these string beans white instead of green?
It was a challenge to, first, find room in the fridge for bulk quantities of produce and, second, to find room in my belly (and Bubba's) before I had bulk quantities of furry mold monsters edging out the wine and tonic water (priorities, people) on the shelves.
And then I became broke. Irretrievably broke and then unemployed.
Suddenly, paper sacks of produce looked like Heavenly Bundles of Free Groceries from which I could extract endless meals in lieu of having to collect change from the dryer vent for a dicey and unsatisfying trip to Safeway where I couldn't buy anything anyway because there's nothing worth eating for $.35.
My mom's homegrown produce became my savior (well, second to Bubba, he's #1.)
I started to covet the random bags of produce my mom would thrust into my arms as I left her house. What bizarre but also good things could be inside? Bags of blackberries? A squash shaped like a spaceship? A new strain of beans I have no idea how to prepare? A sixteen pound zucchini that demands it's own seat for the ride home? Five hundred cherry tomatoes? Cake mix. (My mom was so thrilled with my newfound enthusiasm that she started clearing the depths of the Costco pantry into the bags, too. And I have to say, nothing goes with Japanese eggplant like Ziploc bags and semi-sweet chocolate chips.)
And so it went on, even after I moved into a place (read: ratty shoebox but with a small sunny yard and garage) and started my very first vegetable growing experiments. I'd go to my mom's, she'd send me home with The Mystery Bag, Bubba and I would eat weird vegetables mixed with tomatoes (everything can be mixed with tomatoes) and be happy.
It never occurred to me that one day I might be the crazed woman with a gardening glove tan more concerned with OMG what am I going to DO with all these tomatoes and do you have any recipes that call for 20 lemons because I have six grocery bags full and YIKES. I just thought my mom would always be this lunatic and somehow I'd be safe because they say that in every family "there's always one of those people" and we already had one, my mom.
I'll save you the suspense, in my family, there's two. And I'm one of them. I've officially gone to the OTHER other side having been first ignorant toward homegrown produce, then grateful for homegrown produce and now the forceful provider of homegrown produce.
Yesterday I showed up at my hairdresser's with a bag of tomatoes. I have sent an email out to my team offering to provide them with endless supplies of tomatoes if they want to savor the MOST DELICIOUS HOMEGROWN TOMATOES IN EXISTENCE or whatever just let me know. I have sent Bubba off to work with bags of tomatoes for his coworkers. I have brought them in bags, ironically, for my mom who did not plant tomatoes this year (probably after she saw the Stonehenge Tomato Project I had brewing in the yard). I have even gone so far as to offer to ship them to people in sauce form.
Just to prepare you all, it would appear that August, and perhaps September, are going to be reddish months on this blog as I try to figure out exactly what I DO with a very healthy crop of the best, and most enthusiastically prolific, Better Boy tomatoes.
So, I am at this moment, seeking more individuals like Bubba's angelic coworker who maintain the personal mantra, "When you say 'Tomato', I eat them." as well as any favorite tomato recipes you have on hand. If they call for a dozen+ tomatoes, all the better.
Last week Kelli sent me this recipe for Mellowed Fresh Tomatoes for Pasta which turned out fantastic. I used the advice in the notes which called for using the juices from the fresh tomatoes to finish cooking the pasta in order to give it a LUSTIER flavor.
I love lustiness.