Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomatoes and Ratatouille

I'm no longer getting even cherry tomatoes from my garden due to the chipmunk. So I'm at war with them. I really hate doing it, but they must go, or at least have a lower population. So I netted my tomatoes. This will not prevent them from getting the tomatoes. It just makes it harder for them. And I set out a trap. I have to confess it isn't my tomatoes that are forcing the issue. It is the raspberries. They are starting to get heavy with the fall raspberries. It looks like I will have a huge crop. I got a lot of spring raspberries until the chipmunks found them, then I got none at all. I really want to have raspberries on my cereal again every morning. I like taking my bowl out and filling it up to eat a minute later.

I'm solving my tomato problem with help from some friends and a local farm. Busa Farms is two miles from my house. They do a weird CSA. They sell discounted "Busa Bucks" in the winter and spring. I tried to convince some friends to split the CSA but I had no luck, though I did have two friends (a couple) that signed up. It turns out they had too many to use, so sold some to me. Yeah.

With Busa bucks you can pick your own produce in the fields for half price. I really liked this deal. So I went this morning. I picked about 2 pounds of tomatoes (? maybe) and it cost me two Busa bucks. Their set up is - hmm how do I put this delicately - amateur. They have no maps of the farm. They have no baskets to give you to collect things or knives to cut things off the plants. I did ask where things where and got a little hand waving. I found the tomatoes without much trouble. I'm not sure what varieties I picked, since nothing is labeled. With all the rain lots of them were cracked and spoiling. Any that were touching the ground were of course rotting. There were not a lot of big tomatoes that were ripe, but there were a huge amount of orange cherry tomatoes that looked nice, so I got mostly those. I found a few other tomatoes that I'll let finish ripening on my counter. The red and orange striped one looks so pretty.

Since I picked eggplant from my garden this morning, I figured it was time to try to make ratatouille. Though it was only in the high seventies today, it was humid, so I didn't really want to use the oven. I made it in a sautée pan instead. I had no sweet peppers from the garden, so used a jalapeño. I also used the orange cherry tomatoes from the farm. It turned out quite well. Though I can't say I loved it, it was ok. The smell was fabulous with all the garlic and garden fresh thyme. But it was a little too rich for me. I think I'll cut back on the olive oil. I actually thought it would make a fabulous soup with the addition of chicken broth and kidney beans. I'll have to try that when soup season is upon us.

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