Life didn’t give me bushels of tomatoes. My partner did. She’s compelled to fill our garden and will never cull a healthy plant. Our neighbor Jim plants by the same rules.
In past years, my amusement at so many tomatoes eventually gave way to frustration at the amount of energy I spent trying to find things to do with them. I didn’t expect this year to be any different.
We started out with cherry tomato and mozzarella salads. We added chard as it came in. When the big plants began to produce we gorged on BLT’s. We made sauce for pasta—ate it for dinner and froze the rest. We made and ate or froze ratatouille adding our homegrown eggplants and peppers. Our neighbor gave us a loaf of tomato basil bread (homegrown basil, of course). By that time we’d made several jars of tomato jam and gave him a one in exchange. The cherry tomatoes just kept coming so we cut them in half, tossed them with salt and pepper, cooked them for several hours, and voilà “sun-ripened” cherry tomatoes. Jim went out of town at the height of the season and begged us to pick his fruit. Now we had bags of them to give the folks attending the local community dinner and our friends down the street. I took several when visiting family in Ohio (they have tomatoes in Ohio but my brothers don’t grow their own). Late in the season, we found a recipe for tomato paste. Simple but time consuming, its virtues include the large number of tomatoes it requires, the ability to freeze it in an ice cube tray, and its fantastic flavor.
The tomato rush has ended and our freezer is full and so is my heart. In other years I’ve asked myself, “Why isn’t it Laura’s problem to figure out what to do with all those tomatoes and why agree to pick Jim’s when we already have too many?” This year I saw myself differently; not a passive observer but a key player in a system of entanglements formed by myself and my partner, our neighbor, our gardens, and our community. I didn’t use my energy to resist and resent reality, so I had as much as I needed for a creative and joyful tomato season.