So far, the summer stats are: Squirrels and other assorted critters — 3; Us — 10.
The good news is that we are already getting vine ripened tomatoes — all we can eat. Apparently, this is a really good, early tomato season. The squirrels, chipmunks and other critters with teeth think so, too.
Two days ago, I saw a squirrel with a green tomato in his mouth squeezing through a narrow gap in our backyard fence. I didn’t know squirrels would make off with green tomatoes unless there’s a drought and they’re very thirsty. There have also been several ripening tomatoes that have been sampled and left on the plants. In times of plenty, everyone’s a critic.
The polar vortex or results of the typhoon halfway around the globe or whatever has presented us with cooler than normal temperatures for several days. The tomatoes have slowed down their production, but the good news is we can turn off the air conditioning and open the windows at night. There’s been some very sweet sleep for the last several days.
Let’s take advantage of the early tomato crop. There are wonderful recipes for tomatoes, be they red and ripe or green as grass. You can serve these two with lots of grilled entrees, no matter what the weather brings.
2 pounds plum tomatoes
Choose tomatoes as nearly uniform in size as possible. Halve lengthwise, core and remove seeds and prick skin 6 to 8 times.
Adjust oven racks to middle and low positions. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the tomatoes cut-side down on a large wire rack. Set the wire rack on the middle oven rack and place the foil-lined tray on the lower rack. Dry for 3 to 6 hours, depending on the tomatoes size and the desired texture. When they are dry and cool, place the tomatoes in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Makes about 1 quart.
1 large vine-ripened tomato, about 12 ounces, diced fine
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
Salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Let the relish stand at least 30 minutes before serving. It may be made a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Adjust the seasoning before serving at cool room temperature.
Makes about 2 cups.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.