Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ruminations on the weather, and what can be done with a $15 box of Roma tomatoes.

It rained last night. Such a blessing after the droughty heaty hotty dry of the last few weeks (eight days over 40ºC here in Melbers; fires to the north, the west, the north-east and the south-east). 

After no rain, no rain, no rain, and watching people's lawns turn to dry carbon and brave CFA friends heave up lungsful of smoke, the rain last night was blissful. (Earlier in the day, I saw photos of people in Adelaide dealing with their most-rain-in-a-day since the 1960s, and despite water lapping dangerously at doorsteps and submerging streets, everyone was grinning madly, in the manner of people who haven't seen water fall from the sky for half a year. Rain!) We had 11mm in the rain gauge this morning, which means about 1500 litres into the watertank. I lay in bed watching the mizzle patting the windows. Later, we headed down to Lalor shops in the gentle damp, and celebrated the cool (and the fact that it would not be downright horrible to run the stove) by buying a $15 box of sauce tomatoes, which would necessitate quite a bit of stove-running. (Actually, we bought three $15 boxes, because apparently we do not have jobs and can spend the rest of our days preparing for the global home-preserved tomato shortage.)

They're not the best tomatoes ever. The heirloom veg obsessives are right, homegrown heirloom tomatoes beat industrial ag tomatoes for sheer tomatoiness tenfold. On the other hand, my attempts at growing tomatoes this year have been Dismal with a capital D. It was too cold, then it was too dry, and somewhere in the middle it was too rampaging-chickens-in-the-tomato-bedsy. On the other other hand, these romas ain't so bad.

You can make a lot of tasty food with one $15 box of tomatoes. I made tomato bread:

(Which is delicious, I'll have you know, although it seems that the only people in the house interested in eating it are me and Esme. (Wholemeal spelt, tomatoes, salt, yeast and heat, in case you were wondering.))

And we preserved ten x 1200mL jars of toms (then more, when we moved onto the second box). I love the idea of making passata, except for the bit where you have to spend whole days eviscerating tomatoes - hence my practising of the slackers' alternative, viz., whole skinned tomatoes shoved in a jar, with a slurp of red wine vinegar to stave off the botulinum toxin, and a sprig of rosemary to stave off the rosemary plant getting too big, and then the whole lot left in the Fowler's Vacola for an hour and a half to think about what it's done.

With the dregs of our $15 box, we made enough of this soup to feed a small family of seventeen or so.

Note the basil. Homegrown from seed and as organic and righteous as ever basil was. I think this makes up for the tomatoes from a polystyrene box. 

The weather's looking pretty nice for the next week. Mostly low 20s, the occasional shower portended by the Bureau of Meteorology. I'm letting myself think the worst of Summer is over. Hooray!


  1. We had some blissful rain here too. More yesterday and the day before than for the rest of summer. And this morning the air is cool - and fresh.
    Later, all things being equal, I plan on making tomato chutney from the fruit left on the vines when I finally acknowledge it ISN'T going to ripen.
    Your tomato bread looks wonderful.

  2. Hello! Yes, a friend from Canberra was extolling the rain yesterday -- it does, as she said, what 10,000 garden hoses could never do.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence in the tomato bread. I could easily become a bit of a bread monster.

    My mum - who has short summers - kept making green tomato chutney with the fruit that wouldn't ripen, and then a friend of hers gave her some seedlings of what he called mini romas. Being small, they ripen quickly, and she gets heaps of (little) tomatoes beautifully red before the frosts kick in.

    Hope you're well!