Tag Archives: tomatoes

The secret’s in the sAuce

My tomato plants are slowly but surely yielding edible fractions. Last week may have been the high-water mark for yield. By Friday, I had ten tomatoes: six of them quite large (fist-size) and four reasonably mature ones (billiard ball size).

Running out of things to do with tomatoes shouldn’t really happen. There is always a need in a recipe, salad, or sandwich (BLTs anyone?). Tomatoes are rather ubiquitous in recipes, garnishes, sauces, or just eating them with salt and pepper. Given their prevalence, they don’t seem that special.

This past weekend, though, was special, because we had a house full of college kids visiting for the BIG football game. My two sons and seven friends stayed over Friday night…I had a golden opportunity to prepare something and as every good host should…we provided food.

Meatball subs – I cheated and used store bought tomato sauce… though if I had a large enough yield I would try to make my own tomato sauce.

Cheese dip with tomatoes and green chiles – again store bought and totally synthetic complete with a brick of melt-a-cheese, 2 cans of diced tomatoes and hotdog chili. No mess, no fuss. But…a family favorite.

I had that pile of tomatoes just sitting there. I decided to make salsa…from scratch.

I have an app on my phone to help learn languages. And I’ve recently been learning Spanish. One of the vocabulary words a few lessons ago was la salsa or the sauce. Language is a peculiar thing. Salsa – to me- has always been that tomato based condiment you get with chips as a free appetizer at Mexican restaurants* – And….it is that…but the word means any sauce.

We’ve come to use the word much like a brand shorthand for a product (Kleenex for tissue, for example). I found that the world of salsa (sauce) is varied and complicated.

There’s salsa roja (cooked tomato sauce), salsa verde (green sauce, made with tomatillos), salsa ranchero (ranch-style sauce cooked with peppers and roasted tomatoes), as well as mole’ and guacomole’ being classified as salsas**. All of these are generally blended or cooked.

I made a coarsely chopped mixture.

So technically I made salsa picada (chopped sauce) or pico de gallo (rooster’s beak???) -if you prefer, as follows:

4 large ripened tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1 bunch cilantro (12 stems or so)
1 medium serrano pepper (slightly ripened)
2 tablespoons lime juice
5 or 6 liberal dashes of garlic salt

Chop tomatoes, onion and cilantro and mix in a glass bowl. Finely chop the pepper and add to the mix. Stir and mix liberally with spatula. Add lime juice and garlic salt. Add more to adjust to taste if needed. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before eating (if you can). Get some good sturdy corn chips to eat it.

My sons and their friends devoured it. (before I could get a picture)

I guess it was that good.


*I recognize it is also a dance style, but I have never tried to dance the salsa. And I’m writing about food here.
**Not to mention the mango, pineapple, corn, and carrot varieties.
There might even be pumpkin or squash salsas in keeping with the autumn season.

bits and pieces

Just some quick observations from the past few days…

Tomatoes don’t ripen very fast in Ohio. I’ve mentioned that I have an extraterrestrial tomato plant growing in my back yard, and the fruit-bearing capacity is phenomenal, yet they’ve been green for the better part of a month. At this rate, we’ll be having fried green tomatoes for a week, come October.

Fried green tomatoes are better when you use corn meal and salt. I tried making some this week using MW Cornbread mix (the sweet kind)…not my best effort. I was trying to use what I had on hand…mistake.

The Rat Patrol was much more violent and “adult-themed” than I remembered. I used to watch this show as a kid – I think it was in syndication by that time though. A friend recently loaned me the DVDs because I wanted to binge-watch the show. While not gory in detail, it certainly has it’s share of gratuitous violence, mayhem, and innuendo.

The square metal spatula that you can buy from that mail order kitchen implement supplier (coddled…cook), has a resonant frequency at B-flat 2 octaves above middle C. Good to know if you are ever in need of a tuning pitch at a party or for spontaneous acapella singing in the kitchen. Make sure it’s clean though.

Re-tiling a small bathroom (WC) is not as daunting a task as I thought it was. Despite knowing the rule that the job will take twice as long as you think and cost twice as much, it wasn’t that difficult. I managed to complete it within a few weeks (I didn’t work on it every day, because it wasn’t a critical need toilet).





I could have done it in a weekend if I were pressed for time. I think it looks nice. The most difficult thing was measuring and cutting the edge bits and pieces to fit the door jams. Still a few minor details to finish, beyond the flooring – but I am proud of the job.

Today’s song of the day is Chicago’s Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

Not so much for the lyrics – lots of oohs and yeah yeahs in there – but the spirit of the message and the uplifting sound and harmonies is just right.

Don’t micromanage the garden…

I’m not feeling the poems this week, so I thought I would just write…

I think I’ve mentioned here that I like tomatoes.

A poem about growing tomatoes

A post where I mention planting tomatoes…

In a general sense, I think I am infatuated with the idea of growing something out of nothing (or a small thing)…wanting to be a creator of something. I think this is an innate desire that drives people to achieve. My past “experiments” with tomatoes included growing them in various size planters. I moved them around to maximize sunlight, watered them religiously, gave them plant food every couple of weeks. I think I did this in an attempt to control the plant…I know I “wanted” it to grow. Granted, I didn’t have a suitable planting area in the ground until this year. I even purchased plants that were genetically engineered for a patio/porch environment. This achieved limited success with a crop yield. Maybe 6 or 8 tomatoes. I was very keen on controlling the situation and getting the plants to grow under my supervision and plan.

Can you micromanage a tomato plant?

This year I dug a large bed in our back yard and left a suitable space (about 3 sq. feet) for tomato plants. I planted three (2 grape tomato variety, and one regular plant) during Memorial Day weekend. Save for one dowsing with some miracle food (which I have always done, even when plants were in large pots), I have done nothing unusual in the care of these plants. Granted, it has been somewhat rainy in Ohio this summer, and temperatures have not been too extreme.

You’d have thought that the alien plant from “Little Shop of Horrors” was growing in my yard. So far there are no missing animals in my neighborhood.

Feed me.  Feed me Seymour!

Feed me. Feed me Seymour!

I would expect the grape tomatoes to grow everywhere…it’s like a vine and gives you clusters of tomatoes (hence the name), and it is overtaking the neighboring rose bush. But I did not expect this from the “normal” plant. The tomato stalk/stems are spreading every which way. Obviously a sympodial stem… Ultimately what has stuck out in this exercise is that I have done very little with these plants except add a taller stake in the ground every 6 or 7 days to keep the stems from crushing under their own weight. The tomato yield is going to be phenomenal. I count at least a dozen fist sized tomatoes, with smaller ones popping up every other day. tomatoes

I suppose if one were to have a take away lesson from this it would be:

Don’t constrain the garden with your idea of how it should grow. Plan it, plant it, give it some nourishment now and then, keep an eye on it, and let it grow.

If you think about how other things flourish…

plants, animals, and people

this is a successful management strategy.

However improbable

This summer
you are growing tomatoes in a planter,
not knowing whether you’ve placed
it in the right spot. Last year
you tried planting in the flower bed
but there was too much shade and there
were never any tomatoes. The year before,
you planted too late, and it was a rainy cool summer,
and the plant did not thrive. So this year,
you’ve decided to try using a movable planter.
You can target the sunniest place and control
the amount of water you’ve given the
plant. If there is too little sun,
or if the weather turns out to be
poor, then you can move the planter
for a better day. It is imprinted
on your mind that after you’ve exhausted all
other possibilities, that which remains,
however improbable,
must be the solution^.

And you like fresh tomatoes.


^paraphrasing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle