Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Monday, August 27

If this is the end of the world, at least we're eating well

Back from our annual pilgrimage to Orcas Island and my head is full, so full. I’d like to say it was a relaxing trip but I was actually on the verge of an anxiety meltdown most of the time because I’d decided that Armageddon is actually here and we’ve brought it upon ourselves.

And I’m not at all exaggerating.

I’m feeling a little more even-keeled now that we're home. I'm hoping daily distractions and writing will keep me from going to the dark place again.

I’ve got lots of “real work” to catch up on first, then I’ll get back to the documenting of all the food and cooking and parenting and gardening and farm policy ideas I've got swimming around inside.

But for now, I can leave you with this, which has been going on in my oven all day (and is still going on as of 10:44 PM PDT):

This is what tomatoes look like after they’ve been drying in the oven at 170 degrees (the lowest setting on my electric oven) for four hours. They’ve got about eight more to go. I’ll report back and supply the recipe, if it all works out.

Because I still haven’t had the guts--ahem--time to can anything yet (I've actually never done it--this is another of my food fears), I decided I’d try this method of preserving. Our tomatoes are finally truly in season here, red from the vine and not from the greenhouses. Though I’ve happily eaten those, too, as they have infinitely more flavor that the square hybrids you get from our friendly neighbors to the south. It’s just been so wet and cool here since June that no one’s tomatoes have done well. Until now, at least.

I didn’t grow these tomatoes. I bought these at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Saturday (not sure the farm or the variety—must start keeping track). Knowing the tomatoes were finally in this weekend I went to buy a ton and see what I can do to preserve them. If this drying thing works I may dry the lot of them and perhaps share them with friends (and encourage them to do some of their own preserving) or make sauce. I have to say I’m more tempted to make sauce since it will keep for months while my recipe says the dried tomatoes will only keep a month or so.

And here’s a note about costs, since people are talking about the cost of local foods from the farmer’s market vs. buying from the grocery. (Check this out, if you’re in the mood to be stunned, or if you just want to see a fabulous food blog, Becks and Posh.) These tomatoes were $1.79 per pound, the best deal I found at the market. My grocery store had local tomatoes advertised for $1.99 per pound. I saved $1.20 in total and the farmer got all my money, about $11.50, instead of a smaller percentage (stats I've seen estimate that growers get anywhere from 3.5 cents to 18 cents per retail dollar price when their food is sold through grocery stores, rather than directly to the consumer).

And here’s what else is on my counter this moment (if the kids haven’t eaten it all in the time it took me to write this entry, which is entirely possible):

--Juicy plums from the garden of my 86-year-old neighbor, Joe.

--Ripe and flavorful pears from Leah’s garden, my dear friend and neighbor.

--Tomatoes from the garden of my friend Kim Gaffi, of GRuB fame in Olympia (we stopped there on our way back from the island).

--And those pear-shaped tomatoes are actually from my garden. Go, me!

All foods that were picked either within a block of my home or with my own hands.

Don’t those pears just look so bossy?

“Us first! Look at us! Oh, please please please work your simmering magic and make us into peaaaar buuuuuttterrrr.”

Mmmm. Sure thing.


Anonymous said...

i wanna know how the tomatoes turned out! i'm hoping to do some tomato canning, but it just seems like such a long and messy process...

Rozanne said...

Yeah, it was a super-weird year for tomatoes here. I had blossomdrop galore as a result of all those cool evenings temps.

I, too, had to resort to the Hollywood Farmers Market for tomatoes, but I didn't find the $1.79/pound place. I paid $2.50/pound, but it was so worth it to get some huge beefers that I could slice up and eat!

janelle said...

I love oven roasted tomatoes!

And wow. Orcas. I go there a few times a year!!! How cool; I know the brain swimming feeling---I hope it improves and your holiday is lovely.

Nice to meet you!