Sunday, 2 September 2012

So many shades of grey

And no, I haven't read the book (and goodness knows what Amazon is going to recommend for me now that I have looked at the link), but the unremitting greyness of the past couple of days is oppressing me as I sit in my north-facing office - even with the lights on.

But the jolly redness of the tomatoes seem to defy the leaden skies, and the taste hints at Mediterranean summers and terrace living - if you shut your eyes quite tight and sit close enough to the Aga to feel the warmth.

Frilly tomatoes

The polytunnel has protected these tomatoes from the blight, and kept them warm enough to ripen up - the pretty frilly ones are Costoluto Fiorentino, a variety which has been consistently successful for us, in spite of our distinctly non-Mediterranean climate.

The Head Chef has been slaving over a hot stove preserving them for winter - we make an all-purpose tomato sauce/soup which is quite easy to do. Just cut the tomatoes in half and spread one layer thick on a baking tray (no need to peel or deseed). Scatter liberally with basil leaves and thinly sliced onions and garlic; drizzle with copious amounts of olive oil and season well, before roasting in the oven for half an hour or so (medium heat/middle of the Aga). Leave them to cool when they come out, then blitz in a food processor or blender. Freeze in portion sizes suited to your family.

Nice green beans

This tomato blend will then do duty all winter in lasagne or vegetable bakes, as pizza topping, pasta sauce, thinned down as tomato soup - the list is endless, and with food prices predicted to rise quite dramatically (and pig feed already escalating) we are eagerly squirrelling away as much as possible.

Tasty but few and far between

It has been a mixed year - the cucumbers are succumbing to mildew after a very modest crop (Marketmore, which is usually quite prolific), and unlike most years we have certainly not been overrun with courgettes - although that could be this pale green variety (I forget the name) which has such an anaemic air that we will be going back to the mix of yellow and dark green stripes which was so much more aesthetically pleasing.

Pale and uninteresting

The good old runners are still running away, and if you look carefully you can still see that everything is coated in thistledown. I fear that next year our little cottage is going to disappear in a prickly green forest and we will be machete-ing our way out.

Machete at the ready

I hope that you have had a sunnier weekend than we have, and if you don't feel up to the famous one, this Shades of Grey was very entertaining, and as far as I can remember, quite decent . . .


Isisjem said...

They only produce we grew successfully were cucumbers. In the wind and rain we brought the one surviving plant into our summer house where it's been churning out long green tasty cucumbers. The variety was Burpless wonder. We grew them last year just because the name made us smile :-)

Gigibird said...

thank for your tomato recipe as I have been given what I was calling beefsteak tomatoes and wasn't sure how I was going to do with them...
I'm pleased to read I'm not the only person not to be bothered by the 50 shades phenomenon.

Amy Friend said...

When you make sauce like that, do you need to remove the skin and seeds? If not, this sounds like something I have enough time in the kitchen to do!

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Wow ~ some harvest! Very, very nice to hear from you.
I too am completely untouched by the Grey phenomenon...except for the few traitors on my head! I intend to resist, I have just finished the Snow child which I highly recommend. Happy Autumn :D

Sarah -x-

Nancy McCarroll - Arts, Crafts and Favorites said...

Don't waste your time on the OTHER shades of grey; your shades are much better!! And Yum!

Lx @ Twelve said...

I just love the sight og the frilly tomatoes. This yesr we are still waiting for our cherry tomatoes to ripen, althugh great success with runner beans...
Wil have to have a go at making tomayo sauce, it sounds deliciously easy!


Elizabethd said...

That's the sort of harvest we used to gather in France, wonderful tomatoes. Like you, I've always roasted them before freezing. The flavour stays so much more intense.

Deborah said...

Thanks for the very enjoyable reading. We don't grow vegetables so this is very vicarious for me!

VintageVicki said...

Love the frilly toms :)

Whatever you do - don't read THAT book - have been told its just awfully badly written.

Down by the sea said...

What an amazing harvest of tomatoes, I wish we had a greenhouse or a polytunnel. I enjoyed reading about your shades of grey, everyone is talking about the books at work but I haven't read any.
Sarah x

Tangled Sweetpea said...

Beautiful produce Pomona! I especially love the frilly tomatoes!
Victoria xx

Gillian said...

Hi there, thanks for stopping by my blog earlier in the week - how nice to have found yours. Your frilly tomatoes look wonderful and I like the sound of your sauce. We make something similar in our house by bringing a few tins of chopped toms to the boil with garlic and basil, pushing through a sieve then reducing for hours until you have a heavenly sauce which is good on almost everything.

(I am ashamed to admit that I have been reading the 50 Shades of Grey books this summer and they are quite good fun.) Gillian x

Floss said...

Mmm - I freeze your mixture as soup, already dilited, and I'm now really thrilled about the idea of freezing it in a more concentrated form, freeing up space and opening up cooking opportunities! Thanks for making my evening, Pomona! And thanks for your comment too - school uniform is the one thing we DON'T have to worry about here!

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Pomona,

What a wonderful garden you must have and love all the fresh produce you have grown.
I roast tomatoes when they are plentiful with garlic, onion and basil too, doesn't it smell divine.
We have shades of grey here too today with rain.

Happy new week

saffa said...

Really gorgeous vegetables pomona :) I love the red frilly tomatoes, very pretty and they sound very tasty too! Safxxx

My Norfolk Life said...

Those tomatoes look amazing! In fact it all does!

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

We were victims of very little rain this Summer but able to harvest a bounty of luscious Roma tomatoes.
Like you they have been squirreled away for when the north winds blow, although I can mine as strong winds and ice storms can lead to days without hydro.
The tomato recipe sounds yummy.
Susan x

Indigo Blue said...

Excellent harvest. I am waiting for my apples to ripen so that I can swap back for the tomatoes that my neighbour has kindly given. A black berry wandered through our fence from next door and taken root! has produced some of the largest berries I have fever seen. So apple and blackberry everything will be made soon.

**Anne** said...

The photos of your produce look quite delicious. Perhaps a surprising amount considering the wet some you've had.
I hope you have some sunshine today.
Anne xx

greenrabbitdesigns said...

You may be envious of my peas but I am certainly very envious of your tomatoes!!! Those frilly ones always remind me of France(sigh).
We have quite good weather this weekend thankfully!
Have a lovely new week,
Vivienne x

Mrs. Micawber said...

I like the sound of the Head Chef's tomato-preserving method. Much better than cooking them down on the stovetop all day (which is what I used to do when we lived in the country and had a large garden). Aren't you tempted to peel them off the baking sheet and eat them instead of blitzing them? :)

Frances said...

Summer 2012 here in the States officially ends with our Labor Day holiday tomorrow (first Monday in September.)

I had a day off from work today, but will be working on the holiday. Cloudy and overcast today, rain due tomorrow and Tuesday, too.

Visiting our weekly neighborhood farmers greenmarket today, I collected some fine examples of red and ripe tomatoes, a beautiful golden yellow zucchini squash, and some perfectly fresh green beans (growing up in Virginia, we called them "snaps" because of the sound made when snapping off each end of the bean.)

I guess that it won't be long before the greenmarkets will be featuring apples and pumpkins. Let's enjoy the tomatoes while they still ripen.


Shocking Hocking said...

ooh, great veggies - i've just started planting mine - and i love what you said about your toms - i'm hoping for a bumper crop this year and this recipe will come in very handy.

Sarah Jane said...

Wow, those tomatoes look great! All the produce is giving me great garden envy ;)

Claire said...

Hey Pomona what a wonderful crop of tomatoes, they would certainly brighten up a grey day. Your recipe for them sounds delicious and i will have to keep it in mind this Summer......
Can't beat home grown vegies and yours all look lovely.

Claire :}

Susan Standen said...

I didn't even attempt tomatoes this year due to last years abysmal failure. I would love to have a supply of ready made sauce in my freezer one day.

dragonfly said...

Have duly noted 'scructions for tomato sauce, although I'll probably only have enough tomatoes for a couple of servings this year. Oh how I wish I had a poly tunnel.

Those courgettes do look a little sickly, don't they?!

diegoagogo said...

We are new to gardening in this hemisphere & our veges have really struggled but it makes me not panic so much when experienced gardeners like yourselves are having the same issues.
We will try again next season & live in hope of better yields.
Thank you for sharing.
PS: I am always very skeptical about such "bestsellers". They are often not worth the paper they are printed on. Never read a Dan Brown, not likely to.

Elizabeth said...

So lovely to discover your delightful blog via your comment via Frances!
What a small world the blogosphere is!
Most impressed with your frilly tomatoes and green beans. As a city dweller I'm envious of your bounty.
I had to laugh about the Sanderson fabric at Tea and Sympathy. I think in the 1960's 50% of the English population were required by law to have it in some form or other. Actually, I still like it!
Will add your blog to my sidebar so I can visit again.

Pipany said...

I'm a bit glad it isn't just me that is struggling to get much from the courgettes this year. The plants look healthier than ever but the fruits take so long to ripen that they rot instead. Not sure about the pale ones either. Bit off-putting aren't they?

Runner beans were slow to fruit but off now thank heavens. The very idea of a summer without runners!! xx

Katy Cameron said...

Oh to be able to have my own garden to grow my own veg! I shall have to make do with the supermarket and farmers' markets in the meantime *sigh* (An allotment is, frankly, right out of the question, as the nearest ones are miles away and I don't have time!!!)

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I wrote a blog post titled Shades of Grey, back in March 2011. It's been getting quite a lot of (hopeful?) traffic. It was about yarn!

Those tomatoes look delicious. I have some from my father's greenhouse and am pondering making up a batch of tomato pesto. But I shall beg some more and try your sauce :)

Anonymous said...

what wonderful produce!
we've had our best crop of runner beans this year but not much else. definitely investing in netting if we ever do brassica again as we've got a wonderful but skeletal display in the raised beds just now! ah well, i do love butterflies so i don't mind too much!

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

What a lovely blog you have! Sorry I haven't visited you until now, I am, very slowly, trying to read everyone's blogs!
Your bounty puts my little efforts to shame! What a great way to live! Ada :)

Nicky said...

Everyone's had a bad year this year - we have practically no fruit on our trees! But your sauce sounds delish - capturing the little bit of summer we have had!

Rebecca @ Belle Blog said...

Your Vegetables are all so colorful and beautiful. i wish we had some Grey skies here in CT...there has been hardly any rain this summer.


Barbara said...

All the produce looks great and inviting.


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