Tomato Murder & Ferret Babies
Friday didn't move from her spot beside me, sprawled on her back with her head on a pillow. She knew I wasn't talking to her. "Fri?" Her eyes half opened and she turned to me like some hungover lover. "He's already downstairs." She stretched, yawned, and lazily got up and hopped off the bed to wait with him by the front door. I had moments, just moments, before they both ran back upstairs and launched onto the bed to use whimpering kisses to get me out of it. If I wanted to use a sink for a face wash instead of carnivore saliva, I better get up.
I let the dogs out. How many British people with border collies watched us Americans enthralled with Lassie and shake their heads? He barked when a kid was in a well? Well isn't that's adorable. Aren't Americans so easily impressed by their clever dogs? Meanwhile, over in Dorset their sheepdogs were figuring out the third quarter budget.
My house spells like tomato sauce and that isn't a complaint. Yesterday I spent a sawbuck on a case of spotted and bruised fruits from the farm stand and ended up turning my kitchen into a lazy experiment. I made a saucepan of traditional red sauce on the stove. The kind where you boil water and get a bowl of ice next to it and shock the skins off. I cut them open after and removed seeds and inner liquids, leaving just the flesh for the saucing. It was a as violent as any pig slaughter, maybe more so since there was no sense of sacrifice. These were a week away from being garbage to that farm stand and they were thrilled to sell them to some homesteader who had time to make 15 pounds of fruit into sauce. That made it seem ever more vulgar. Maybe it's the homesteader in me - the having seen so many living things turned into food - that it bothered me how flippant and fast these once-gorgeous, full bodied tomatoes turned into anemic corpses in a bowl. Oh well, where's the basil?
So I made a stove top sauce out of the best, skinless, all-meat tomatoes. It was pretty easy. A skillet was already full of caramelized onions and garlic and was popping on another burner. I added just that and some sauce spices to the now warm and soup flesh. That was it. All that was left to do was stir it so nothing burned and let it simmer and evaporate what was left of the water.
I got a tip on Facebook to take the rest of the lot - the bulk of the tomatoes - and make sauce the easy way. Here is what Heather McKnight Hamilton told me. Her word is good.
KEEP THE SKINS! and the seeds! so much good stuff in there for you and for flavor. This is what I do - saves so much work. Halve the tomatoes. Put one layer in huge roasting pan (aluminum ones from dollar store are perfect) throw some sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, peeled smashed cloves of garlic, drizzle olive oil. Roast in 325 oven until juice is released and evaporated. let cool slightly, puree in blender. seeds, skins get blended in and you'll never notice them except for the extra flavor and nutrients. can or freeze. DONE!
That is what I did, that's it! Now I had so much sauce it the house it was ridiculous. I had only consumed coffee and a beer in the late afternoon. I was starving and had two boxes of 99cent spaghetti in the larder. I was guessing I had enough food here to feed 4 people all they could eat until they exploded with enough sauce to can or freeze. I needed reinforcements.
I emailed Trevor and told him to come over if he wanted to commit suicide through Italian food with me. I had some hamburger in the fridge and browned it the same skillet I had done the oil and onions with. Then I poured the quart of sauce I had made on the stove (the fancy skinless one!) into that. I wasn't waiting for Trevor. I made myself a plate. It was amazing. The combination of food I had waited for, worked for, and knew would continue feeding me when snow was on the ground - good Lord does it not add to the flavor profile!
Trevor ate twice as much as me when he came over. We chatted about his adventures in Timber-framing and work. I caught him up on things going on around here. I live and work alone, but this house is never not full of people. I met them all after I retreated to a farm on the side of a mountain - exactly where I was told I'd never meet anyone. Phooey.
All the tomato skins and bruises went into the slop bucket. The pigs had that alone with some slightly-off corn with their pig chow and were thrilled. I tried to get a photo for you but it was a massacre. That was the best of 37 photos of pigs trying to eat. Here's another one!
I hope all that food talk wasn't too much. These daily updates are going by the seat of my pants. As for today? It's a workday for me. I work on design and illustration between farm chores five days a week from home. Saturday and Sunday I take off. But being just a Tuesday I have invoices to chase, clients to bug, more episodes of Archer to laugh at, new work to solicit, ads to sell, an agent to hassle, and a house to keep in some order. I haven't had any coffee yet. I haven't even gone outside yet. I had nightmares Friday gave birth to a litter of ferrets and the internet yelled at me for being a monster because somehow my dog got ferret raped. Imagine waking up to a genius dog, ferret baby night terrors, and smelling spaghetti? Welcome to Tuesday.
Oh, yesterday Storey Publishing sent me a copy of their new book Farm Dogs, to read and review. I'll write about it here but so far I just read the Border Collie pages and was instantly impressed. Jan knows dogs - this is not some coffee table book. It's an actual dog expert explaining which herding animals, terriers, and livestock guardians best suit your like and farm. The dogs posed for this. More talk between the author, Storey, and me over on Twitter.
Okay Antlers, I got a hawk to weigh, a farm to feed, a work day to plan, and at some point I need to hop in the shower before anyone from the general public sees me. I look a mess. Enjoy your day, drink more coffee than the Surgeon General suggests, and be nice to each other.
P.S. this post was titled Tomato Murder and Ferret Rape - per the weird dream. But I wasn't sure that would come across as offensive -using such a loaded term as rape in a dream-reference/jokey way. Sad that I didn't even flinch at the term murder.