Shelled the turkey craw we picked a few weeks ago, only to discover the cooler fall temperatures had given the vines still in the garden a second wind. So hard to pull out something that still has so much potential, even with impending frost.
Was thinking about harvesting my volunteer sunflowers for winter bird feed, until I realized the goldfinches had beat me to it.
Had lots of very enthusiastic helpers, and a squash assembly line. Their enthusiasm ended in this...
Somehow I've completely neglected to mention my tomatoes - I have a ton! Its been one of the best tomato summers in years (if you discount the enormous spiders lurking among the vines waiting for me to get close enough to jump on me and eat me alive! Side effect of an unusually wet summer. M will be doing all the harvesting!). When we have a harvest this special, I like to make something a few notches fancier than plain old tomato sauce. This year - Tomato Jam. Tomato jam has a complex layering of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors that when paired with some goat cheese on a cracker really hits the spot when your winter menu's repetitive lack of zip is almost too much to bear. M's lovely aunts serves this as part of their fantastic Thanksgiving appetizer spread. Every year I dream about it, finally I stopped dreaming and looked up the recipe.
This recipe is a slight adaptation from the Viking Easy Winter Tomato Jam recipe. I've adapted it to use fresh tomatoes, and to make a full dozen 1/2 pint jars.
6 pounds paste tomatoes
a few splashes olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
6 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
the juice of one lemon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cinnamon sticks
salt and pepper to taste
First wash, seed, and skin the tomatoes, place in a large stock pot. Then peel and chop the ginger and garlic. I like to chop the red pepper flakes into this mix, so you are less likely to get a full flake of heat in one bite. Coat a medium sauté pan with a few splashes of olive oil then toast the garlic/ginger/red pepper combination unit fragrant and a bit browned.
Add the toasted aromatics to the tomatoes. Then add all of the lemon juice, brown sugar, cumin and cinnamon sticks to the tomatoes and cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer.
(Hmmmm...its apparent that I've left a pretty big hole in the visual instructions here, sorry) Simmer 3-4 hours or until reduced by about 1/2. At this point I remove the cinnamon sticks and use the hand blender to puree into a smooth sauce texture. Alternately, you could just break up the big chunks of tomato with a wooden spoon for a more textured end result. Can or freeze as you would tomato sauce. Makes 12 half pint jars.
I find one 1/2 pint jar of Tomato Jam, paired with a sleeve of water crackers, and 1/2 a log of chèvre serves 4 as a small gathering appetizer. Its also the perfect size for M and I to house in one sitting after the kids have gone to bed.