Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I am so a Frontierswoman.

I went pretty far off my nut on Sunday.

This happened as I stood in my yard under the meek shade of my sombrero (dudes, I do not mess around with sunshine on my nude skin regardless of my thick sunscreen sheen) and stared at the still more-red-than-green tomato shrubs.

How, I pondered, was it possible to give away over 8 lbs of big perfect tomatoes on Friday and 10 lbs of tomatoes on Saturday and YET STILL have over 10 lbs of ripe-n-ready tomatoes hanging right there from the plant for all to see on Sunday?


Well, avoiding all computation (no math no math no math), the answer came simply: The plants are ALSO off their nut (convenient). They are also happy, healthy and producing at a rate one must not underestimate or believe can be managed through simple redistribution alone.

No, one must make compromises and exceptions in proportion to the tremendous bounty.

Basically, it was time for the big guns. And time to pay for the ease with which I came to know the fear and sleepless nights that come with having two (TWO ONLY) tomato plants producing like twenty.

I had to can.

And it was, oh, like 95 degrees out. AND we have no A/C. AND Bubba was trying to work in the office which shares a (hot) wall with our kitchen. AND it was hot. Well, that was my main issue. The hotness.

It was Hotness vs. Tomato Waste and in that particular situation, I can stand the heat, be in the kitchen and still stave off insanity. If only for one sweaty afternoon.

And it was sweaty alright.

Stupid canning always happens right when it's the hottest. Not when it's chilly and I'm wearing my librarian sweater (which I promise to feature in a future post on Ugly Things I Own) over all my clothes and socks with my slippers and my nose is still red and icy.


Canning only happens when I'm wearing the least I can get away with without incurring a neighborly call to the bobbies and yet it's still somehow so hot that I'm rocking impressive boob sweat and my hair is tied up in an unflattering ponytail/bun thing under my orange doorag.

I know you're thinking, the weather isn't the only thing that's hot. Yes, I am very hot indeed in these warm weather getups.

This past Sunday, my hot getup and I went out to the garden and picked 12.5 lbs of tomatoes.

In the blazing mid-day heat of late summer.

Then, back in the kitchen, I fired up the giant canning pot to boil and proceeded to sweat until the tank top boob sweat became tank top torso sweat and then just Sweaty Tank Top.

Don't worry though, the canning process was very sanitary.

After boiling/peeling/halving 12.5 lbs of tomatoes, boiling/sanitizing 12 pint jars/lids/rings, packing 10 pints jars with the tomatoes (shocker, I ran out of tomatoes) and then two rounds of 50 minute sessions in the canning pot, I am sure I had dropped at least two pounds of water weight.

Not bad.

Best thing ever was that they all sealed properly and I didn't have to then scurry to eat two jars of piping hot not-quite-canned tomatoes because the lids didn't seal and what if they go bad and I have to deal with the sadness of Tomato Waste.

So, I had 10 lovely jars of my tomatoes to stow in my cabinet for a wintry day when I'm wearing my librarian sweater over all my clothes and thinking, "Hey, you know what would be gooooooood after the football game (because in winter I am almost always watching football and thinking about what is for dinner)? Lasagna with homemade sauce or Creamy tomato and basil soup or meatballs with homemade sauce or stuffed peppers with homemade sauce or a big spoon with homemade sauce.

It will justify all the sweating I have just done. The making of wintertime sauce from summertime tomatoes. MY tomatoes.

I will be a satisfied, if slightly chilly, football fan on the verge of a great sauce. I will also have satisfied my inner Frontierswoman by going full circle on the plant seeds/grow crops/harvest crops/can crops/use canned crops in winter when we're all hunkered down for winter due to the terrible storms outside even though I live in Northern CA where it hardly gets below 40 degrees.

We'll save my fascination with being a frontierswoman for another day. But I bet they all wear big librarian sweaters and get boob sweat in summertime while they can tomatoes from their big frontier gardens.

That is the dream.


  1. Bring a jar to Rome! Would that stuff make it in checked luggage? Hmm, maybe it's too risky. But for sure the King of Random could come up with a good use for some of that sauce!

  2. I need to figure out what you're doing to make your tomatoes so fruitful. My tomatoes (from Home Depot) are so sad. The Romas are kinda mushy, and the other one (forgot what it was) is pretty good, but not much fruit. And I can't believe you canned this past weekend. It was SO HOT! Your tomatoes in the pantry do look delicious though and I will be very jealous in the winter of your homemade sauce with homegrown tomatoes!!

  3. Go ahead on, Ma Ingalls! Meanwhile, I'm going to go weep over my lone surviving tomato plant which produced...nothing. (I've gone ahead and left off the "yet". Hope is dwindling.)

  4. You are one energetic woman! Sewing. Gardening. Canning. Baking. What next?!?

  5. You are bad-ass!

    My boobs are too small to produce much boob sweet, but I get the doorag thing goin (cept mine's purple) when I garden too.

    And I can't wait to see your ugly librarian sweater.

  6. And your red hot jars of tomato-y goodness are just lovely. Kudos to a job well done!

  7. I am so proud of you for this. I have made jam before (good Christmas goodies), but not veggies. Definitely on my 'to do' list.

  8. Oh, and for Lynn, try this:

  9. Good for you!! The last time I canned (a couple years ago) it was blazing hot and I was 8 months pregnant. I ditched the shirt and canned in my jogging bra because it was so bloody hot!! I could barely reach the stove because Baby was sticking way out at that point. It took a while to recover from that experience.

    I'm working up the courage to can again this summer. I'll keep you posted. :-)


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