Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tomato Harvest

Last week, we harvested the tomatoes in the back yard before they were able to fully ripen due to the inclement weather. Too bad about our impending doom in regards to winter coming extremely early, or at least it seems that way. That's just the way it goes unfortunately.


We think there is around 20lbs or thereabouts from 3 plants mainly. We had 7 or 8, but the other plants just didn't get enough sunlight to make them grow properly. The next evening, we were able to take off about 4 or 5 lbs of cherry tomatoes as they didn't freeze the night before. Some of them were red, but mostly they were green as well. The green unripened ones will go downstairs to a cool, dry environment underneath the stairs (where we store our wine collection) to continue ripening. The mother-in-law says this is the best way to go about making your unripened tomatoes finish what they need to do.

We won't be able to work with this crop for awhile, but when they are ready to go, I will let you know what their fate will be. In October, we are headed out to Mrs. Urban Eaters hometown to visit her family, so by then the tomatoes will be ready. I already have 4 large cans of San Marzanos to make tomato sauce with, but I think I will can our homegrown ones. The mummy-in-law does this every year, so why not do it with her? The wife likes this kind of thing too as her mom makes it a big operation and can be quite entertaining for little O as well.

This column did not come out for a few days as my mother and step-father were in town for a few days. They usually come to town every 3 to 4 months for a visit. There is always lots for them to do here and lots for them to eat.

My step-dad (EW) has finally put an emphasis on eating healthy. This is a very good thing as he is not very active anymore. He has an extremely bad leg which has kept him off of the squash courts for quite awhile and has now even made him avoid the golf course as well. This means eating healthy takes precedence over most anything else now. He still has a belly on him, but I believe his heart and the rest of his body is thankful.

The wife noticed my mother has lost weight lately. I asked EW about this and he told me this is because he is doing the shopping now rather than her. He is buying fresh fruit and vegetables more now than she was before. As I mentioned in an earlier column, my mother has Alzheimer's, so shopping gets to be extremely expensive and futile. The fridge and the pantry were always full, but as a foodie, I couldn't make heads or tales of it. The only place on earth I couldn't open a door and make something out of what was available to me (make something decently healthy and tasty, that is). I believe this is changing and we are happy about it.

While they are here, breakfast is usually a nice meal as is supper. Lunch is just something we do together if our schedules work out the same. They like their eggs, so I looked in one of my favorite cookbooks for a recipe which the wife and I both like. The Young Man & the Sea is a book by David Pasternack and Ed Levine. Mario Batali, whom I follow and admire despite the size of his belly, wrote the foreword in it. He says "Dave Pasternack is the best thing to happen to Italian fish cooking. Why? Nobody knows more about fish, fishing and fish cooking." That was enough for me to but the book right there. As I looked through it, I started to understand what Mario was talking about. Mr. Pasternack puts everything into terms which make sense and make it easier to accomplish a wonderful seafood dish.

One recipe I am particularly fond of is Soft Scrambled Eggs with Lump Crabmeat. Wow! Whouda thunk such a simple dish could be so good. I cut down on the butter in this dish and use a little more EVOO instead. I had pics as well, but our kitchen doesn't have an abundance of natural light unfortunately, so they didn't turn out so well. Pics the next time I make this dish, I promise!

Ingredients

- 3 Jumbo or 4 large fresh farm eggs
- 2 tablespoons whole milk (I use 1%)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. You could cut this in half or less if you want to replace some of the butter with EVOO. But, butter adds such a nice flavour...
- 1/2 cup lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage. If you can't find lump crabmeat, use what is available to you. If you can find fresh King Crab or a reasonable facsimile, this works fine. I have had to use canned crab a couple of times. This works great as long as you buy the good crabmeat in cans.
- High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Method

- In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and milk. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

- Melt the butter (and/or oil) in a medium, nonstick saute pan over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the crabmeat and reduce the flame to low. Lightly saute until the crabmeat begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the egg mixture. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to almost constantly stir the eggs and crabmeat as they gently cook and form small curds, 5 to 6 minutes.

- Spoon onto four salad-size plates, season with salt and pepper, and a light drizzle of the EVOO. make sure it's some of the good stuff. You could also sprinkle a little Fleur de sel over the top instead of regular sea salt, just use a little less as it is quite strong in flavour. Your choice. Serves 4. Serve toast or roasted potatoes on the side, if you wish.

This always goes over well and is a very tasty and filling dish. My mom is a picky eater, so if she will eat it, you should too. Try to find this book if you like cooking seafood. So far, I am very impressed with it and I plan on using many recipes out of it in the future.

Little O's Menu

Over the past couple of days, she has been going through another growth spurt. This means she is eating a lot, or just a little, no in-between. She is still chowing down on the regular diet of fruits and veggies. We are progressing her to slightly bigger and more chunks in her meals. She now understands the concept of chewing her food properly and doesn't seem to be having any issues with it.

The ingredients in the mix as of late have been carrots and zucchini as usual. Now, the broccoli she gets is an tiny floret form rather than pureed. Chunks of beef and chicken make their way in now as well. She can only take so much of the beef as it has a strong flavour to it. The chicken doesn't have such a bold flavour, so she tends to eat a little more of this. For breakfast, she has moved to eating whole blueberries with chunks of sliced peaches and/or mango's with the usual Greek yogurt. The apples and pears will make their way back right away as well. She likes these with cinnamon so much, we can't deny her the privilege of eating these at least 2 or 3 times a week. We were worried she would get sick of them, but this didn't happen thankfully.

It's good to be back writing again after a few days away from the computer. I actually missed this! I hope you are enjoying reading this as much as I enjoy writing it. It gives me a chance to work on my creativity and expand my culinary horizons.

Today's quote:

"We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine-gun."
 
George Orwell (1903-1950) British novelist, essayist, and critic.
 
 
Until next time, good eating everyone.
 
Mark

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