Monday, July 4, 2011

I See Surfaces

We returned last week from a wedding in the Texas Hill Country to find every flat surface in the kitchen and the entire refrigerator slathered or crammed with tomatoes, corn and peaches, patiently awaiting processing. I hardly knew where to begin, and decided if I wanted use of the fridge, I'd better haul out the corn first and get them in the freezer (not there's much room in it, either.)

If you read the Tally to the right, you've witnessed the steady stock rising. Each morning, after the plog 'round the blocks, I'd chain myself to a lead that stretched only as far as the raised beds and stove. There could be no escape if I wanted to make the most of what the garden has offered to the pantry shelves.

This strange spring of dry weather and for the most part cooler than average temperatures has given us now in mid-summer some crazy large and abundant in quantity tomatoes. They have been squeezed by the Squeezo and simmered in reduction, canned and labelled & sit smugly and snuggly all in rows. It's a wonderful sight.

The other day, while running errands, we grabbed a bite at a Mexican restaurant in Covington, El Iguana, and stumbled toward the notion of canning salsa as well. And why not? I found a terrific sounding recipe with raves in the comments sections and a plethora of answered questions confirming that I could, indeed, halve the recipe. This was the only concern I had at first reading. The ingredients list began with 30 tomatoes, which is no problem for us but the final result was 17 pints of salsa and I don't care how good it is, I don't know what I'd DO with 17 pints of salsa. I don't have 17 pints of sauce! (yet) and I 'm certainly not planning on setting up a table on the side of a highway to offload the surplus.

(Although, I bet I could!)

So, I dragged home another box of pint-sized Mason jars and promptly twisted my ankle.

With my daughter's help however, we were able to jar 8 pints of a truly spectacular salsa and two jars of sauce, bringing our total tally in a northerly direction and my horizontal surfaces now tomato-free. There are plenty more out there to go but I do in fact see the bright light at the end of the harvest tunnel ahead.

If you have read the "Lucia" stories or had the pleasure of watching a series from England called "Mapp and Lucia", you are acquainted with a mysterious dish called "Lobster a la Riseholme". It is the recipe that is (one of) the source of contention between two sparring divas in a 1920's English village. I have read and watched it many times and have always wanted to dine on this veritable feast but until yesterday, haven't stopped long enough to give it a try. You can google it and find many references to the dish and a Nigella Lawson, also of Great Britain, offers a recipe that I decided to follow to a T.

I even flambed the brandy under the supervision of Rachel and that was great fun!

Oh yeah. It's delicious.

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