Thanks, Jack Frost!

Because you were kind enough to delay your visit to Florida this year, my tomatoes are blooming, producing quite the bounty!  Why, just look at these gorgeous babies…

Aren’t they fabulous?  And better yet, they taste delicious–especially in sauce form.  But before we get to the kitchen, I wanted to share a few things I learned this season with regard to growing tomatoes.  Number one:  sturdy triangle towers are your BEST bet.  This round contraption with the adjustable vertical supports was no good.  Actually collapsed beneath the weight of the plant!

Sure, I could have manipulated the positioning of these supports and in fact did so several times–but is that how I want to be spending my time in the garden?  Nope.  I’d rather stroll down to the garden and admire my sturdy triangle tomato towers, and then pluck ruby-red tomatoes (or nearly so) from my plants.  I mean, that’s the reason I’m gardening, right?  The harvest?

Yes.  And once I gather a basket-full of San Marzanos, it’s off to check on the others.  My Lincoln tomatoes are doing well, but why are some of them yellow?  In fact, they look amazingly similar to the Lemon Drop variety I saw in one of my seed catalogs.  Hmph.  I don’t remember ordering those, let alone planting them!

But stranger things have happened.  I guess.  Right?  No worries.  It’s all fun. :)  Wandering still further, I noticed this little beauty.

Don’t ask me how it ended up in my tomato cage.  Blame it on the fact that I expanded the garden into the wildflower field, coupled with unseasonably warm weather…  Not really sure.  Like I said–strange things are happening around here.  Yet wonderful things are about to happen in my kitchen!  C’mon, I’ll show you! 

Now making tomato sauce is an easy task.  Easier when using canned, but we’re gardeners and a little extra effort to use fresh doesn’t bother us in the least bit.  So first things first, we need to remove the skin and seeds.  I call this “blanch and push.”  You’ll find full instructions on how-to in my recipe section but for now, we’ll cover the basics. 

Next up is the cooking process.  First you’ll want to saute onion and garlic in olive oil and then add your tomatoes.  Mush ‘em up real good (helps them cling to the noodles).  Add the seasoning of your choice, bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 20 minutes to several hours. 

Wow.  That’s vague. 

Yes.  And so are most Italians when you ask them how to make tomato sauce.  Some may slant you the evil eye while others will simply smile yet remain mum.  You see, tomato sauce is akin to the family jewels when it comes to Italians and they won’t share (other than with their firstborn) the recipe for their tomato sauce.  Shoot–some won’t even eat another’s sauce let alone tell you how they make theirs!

Blasphemy, pure and simple.  But since I’m only Italian by marriage, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned along the way.  Sauce to Italians is like gravy to Americans and everyone’s taste buds run different.  You know, some like it lumpy, others don’t.  Some like it dark while others prefer it light.  Salt, no salt…  Which pretty much sums up tomato sauce.  Fiddle with the recipe until you tweak it just right to suit YOUR family and call it a day.

You’ll never please everyone so worry about those who matter.  Same goes for meatballs (but were not even going to GO there).  When it comes to sauce, think “taste and cling” and above all, enjoy the process. Buon Appetito!