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Putting Up Tomatoes

Putting Up Tomatoes

When I was really young my mom would spend hours every August blanching, peeling, de-seeding and then canning mountains of tomatoes in our oh-so humid Missouri home. Her unruly curly hair would be pinned back with multiple bobby pins as she carefully lowered the tomatoes into the massive black tin stock pot water with the Ball canning jar insert. Not sure what happened, but after a few years she stopped canning and started just putting whole tomatoes in panty hose in the freezer. Each tomato was knotted off from the other, sausage link style, to apparently prevent bruising. It was always a little alarming to open the freezer to see the frozen red globes bound by old pairs of L’eggs pantyhose, but it worked for her. In 1994 I got Marcella Hazan’s, Essentials of Italian Cooking and started making her to-die-for classic sauce Tomato Sauce and Onion and Butter in batches to freeze. After one mid-winter visit where we served my mom the sauce three different ways: over pasta, as tomato soup and the base for our grilled pizzas, she never went back to her old ways of preserving tomatoes.

I generally have two ways I put up tomatoes for the winter: whole cherry tomatoes and pureed sauce. I don’t believe in taking the skin off or de-seeding, as I think it adds to the overall flavor.

Classic Gazpacho with Smoked Paprika Oil

Classic Gazpacho with Smoked Paprika Oil

If you have about 15 minutes and a kitchen full of summer produce, you will love this gazpacho. It’s silky smooth and bursting with flavor. One key is to make it the day before to let it sit in the fridge overnight so those flavors can develop and be able to serve it super chilled. For those gluten-phobes out there, this one is for you. Yes, I know a lot of gazpacho is made with stale bread, but you won’t miss it in this version.
The Smoked Paprika Oil is a recent find from my favorite cooking mag, Milk Street. Ever since I started making it a few weeks ago, I have been drizzling it on everything from hummus to avocado toast to grilled/roasted veggies and more. It’s downright addictive!

Cold Asian Herby Noodles

Cold Asian Herby Noodles

This is a riff on a Cambodian noodle salad I found a few months ago. I’ve changed it up quite a bit by substituting shrimp and fish sauce with marinated organic tofu and soy sauce. In the the past five weeks I’ve made it four times. I think it’s absolutely craveable, especially when the temperatures are in the 90s… The key ingredients that really make this stand out are lots of herbs and salty peanuts. Delish! It’s a perfect dish for summer picnics.

Sassafras Sarah’s Cloth Napkins, Tea Towels and Pillowcases

Sassafras Sarah’s Cloth Napkins, Tea Towels and Pillowcases

I love cloth napkins, I mean, I really love them. Growing up each of us kids had our own personal napkin ring. Each week a new, freshly laundered cloth napkin would greet me at Monday’s dinner — always a highlight of the start of the 

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

I’ve messed around with making a variety of alternative cheeses, but I’m just not a fan of ingredients like tapioca flour or agar agar powder, etc. This recipe is my latest obsession because it’s so simple and incredibly delicious. Adding a bit of brine from your favorite fermented vegetable gives it a dose of healthy probiotics, too. To get the super creamy texture, however, you will need a bad ass blender like BlendTec or a VitaMix. If you try making it in a food processor or a normal blender, the result will still be tasty, but the texture will be a bit grainy.

Super Simple Romesco Sauce

Super Simple Romesco Sauce

I’ve been making variations of this succulent sauce since 1997. Romesco sauce is from Catalonia and is usually served over fish or other meat. It is frequently made with both almonds and hazelnuts as well as stale bread crumbs. My version is slightly different, but still hits those same taste notes. I usually serve it over grilled veggies, spread on tortillas topped with avocado and salad greens, dolloped on top of slices of baguette, thinned out and drizzled over orzo, etc.
I nearly always have everything for this in my kitchen, which means that even though we’ve been pretty homebound these last few months, I can usually make this without a trip to the store. In my freezer I always have almonds (if you don’t already, do store your nuts in the freezer to prevent them going rancid) and bags of red bell peppers that I roasted and froze the previous summer. If you don’t have sherry vinegar, substitute a light balsamic. If you don’t have smoked paprika, just use regular paprika.