Have you ever played the game where you have to pick your favourite food to take with you to a desert island?
Okay fine, maybe you didn’t have to play these games because you weren’t born in the dark ages before en-route entertainment systems, like I was. Even though they were ubiquitous, we didn’t get a colour TV in our house until I was 17 because my parents were anti-TV before being anti-TV was a hipster parenting trend. No way would we have been allowed to “rot our brains” in the car, too!
Anyhoo, on road trips my sister and I grew up forced to count cows, play memory games like, “I took a trip…”, sing campfire songs, and when desperation really took hold, actually talk to our parents in the front seat.
It was Ye Olden Days.
I can’t remember if we ever played The Desert Island game in the car, but I had my answer ready, just in case. Were I to be marooned on a desert island and could only take one food, it would definitely be: TOMATOES.
Or CHOCOLATE, of course.
I can’t make major decisions, but if I were allowed to take both, it would make a balanced diet, right?
It was like a desert island dream (the “desert island” being Practical Man’s second cancer diagnosis and more-important-than-average covid self-isolation).
Unfortunately, the bonanza (that’s a Ye Olden Time word, by the way) was itty bitty cherry tomatoes and completely green. Even if we could have ripened them on a thousand window sills that we don’t possess, Practical Man told me that unless they have a tiny bit of colour on them, they won’t ripen from completely green.
He’s from even older Ye Olden Days than I am. He actually SAW a TV show called Bonanza when it was airing. He knows stuff.
Last year, we made an icky green tomato salsa that had waaaaaay too much cumin (“too much cumin” should be the slogan for 2020) and that turned us off anything that had “salsa” in the recipe title, for this year’s rescue crop. Fried green tomatoes is what everyone thinks of as soon as they hear “green tomatoes”, but we would have had enough for the whole county (and since we are hunkered in our aforementioned cancer/covid cocoon, hosting a Fried Green Tomato Open House isn’t really an option).
So, Practical Man put the thousands of small, green tomatoes in a big box and proceeded to invoke some kind of plant-savant-wizardy where he turned them a bit red using a combination of bananas and newspaper.
Betcha never saw that wizard trick in a Disney movie, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, did you?
Every couple of days, a few handfuls get pulled out of the magic box to ripen the rest of the way on the windowsills we DO possess. Abracadabra, we have ripe tomatoes. Be careful what you wish for.
Even with my eat-my-weight-in-tomatoes practices and desert island affection for what Italians called Love Apples, we needed to do something with the abundance.
“No tomato left behind” is our motto!
Enter, Roasted Tomato Sauce (or if you’d prefer to sound more foodie: Roasted Tomato Confit).
First off, you should know that anything with “confit” in the title makes you sound a bit pretentious, unless “confit” is part of your lexicon of origin or you are trying to charge money for it.
On the other hand, “roasted” in the title is an automatic win. It takes bitter things and makes them sweet. It takes veggie things and makes them candy. And, it’s so easy, any fool can do it (i.e.: me). Here’s how:
- cookie sheets/roasting pans
- parchment paper to put on said pans
- cut tomatoes in half in a bowl
- add 6 cloves garlic for every 1kg of tomatoes (or 3 mutant cloves that PM grew in our garden)
- add any desired spices (we advise against cumin–yuck!). We used oregano this time, but you could use basil or thyme or a combination.
- salt, pepper, olive oil to coat
Put in a 425F degree oven for around 40-45 minutes until bubbling and starting to caramelize.
Using an immersion blender, we carefully (HOT!) pulsed all the juices and yummy roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic into a goo that REALLY needs to come with me to my desert island.
We had it on pizza tonight. Homemade pizza dough (made with PM’s 8-9 year-old sourdough starter), homemade roasted tomato goo made with home-grown PM tomatoes and home-grown PM garlic, homemade sausage made with PM-made sausage.
Uh…YUM. Practical Man didn’t charge me money, but he should definitely get to use the word “confit”.
We froze the rest for pasta, soups, to smear on chicken or in my case, to just sit and lick off a spoon for self-soothing purposes, in case there’s another US election anytime soon.
We finished with two-bite brownies made with my world-famous recipe.
On the weighty matter of chocolate versus tomatoes during a pandemic, an election with world-wide implications, and cancer in the house:
This desert island is allowed to break all the rules.
Christine Fader is the author of two published books and loves tomatoes and chocolate (not together though, ewwwwww). Find her at christinefader.com
This blog title could be an anthem for me and my life.
But, wouldn’t it sound better if delivered with an Alabama accent? Or, since we’re in Canada, a Newfoundland or Cape Breton accent?
I think I’ll send this to Rick Mercer. He could really make it into a thing.
You may already agree that I’m four graham crackers short. I like to pretend that I take after my slightly scatter-brained but completely adored, Great Grandma Hildegard. She inadvertently invented all kinds of food, including Leathers. Leathers (as in Roast Beef and Leathers) are a delicious culinary mistake that have thrived through 3 generations of my family. Signs have been created in homage to Leathers:
I should be so lucky with some of my kitchen experiments.
I’ve just finished making a vintage, no-bake dessert to take to Pippi’s dinner party tomorrow evening. I’m not feeling tip-top, so I took some pain medication earlier which tends to make me even loopier than usual.
Loopy is not good, when combined with the treacherous recipes and general baking chaos that you may remember I tend towards. The dinner party is among friends and I don’t feel too much pressure so of course, I try something new (which always makes Practical Man pull out what’s left of his hair).
And, after mostly successfully pulling off Scallops Carbonara for the two of us, a few short nights ago (my normally fainty, half-dead heart rate and pulse were through the roof as I “reduced” and “emulsified” and engaged in other scary cooking maneouvers that were way out of my league), I felt bold enough to bake while under the influence of ibuprofen.
In what I imagine to be true baking a la Great Grandma Hildegard fashion, I vaguely remembered the gist of the recipe for “No-Bake, Refrigerator Extravaganza” when I was in town today to pick up the ingredients. I got home and realized that I didn’t have everything so I skimmed the recipe again and headed back out to the country store, feeling even less tip-top, to try and find instant pudding.
Vintage recipes often contain words like “No Bake” and ingredients with the word “instant” in front of them, have you noticed?
“Open can of X”
“Pour tin of Y”
“Blend instant Z”
“No baking required!”
These are the sorts of phrases one often finds in recipes from the 50s and 60s. Mostly fake, uncooked food was the wave of the future. When we were living on the moon and relying on our Jetsons-style solar easy-bake oven, these recipes and margarine (not butter) would be the stuff of life!
I am also reassured that in the 50s and 60s, many people seemed to be baking under the influence of alcohol and cigarettes (at least, if you watched MadMen), so a little ibuprofen-induced loopy-ness was barely being authentic to the vintage spirit.
This recipe originated with my aunt and is simple, but delicious and vintage kitschy. Of course, I didn’t follow the recipe.
No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake
1 box graham wafer cookies
2 – 135g packages, instant vanilla pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 liter container Cool Whip topping (thawed)
In a 9 x 13 pan, put a layer of graham wafer cookies. Beat the 2 pudding mixes with the cold milk until thick. Fold in the thawed Cool Whip. Put half of this mixture on top of the layer of graham wafers. Add another layer of graham wafers. Pour on the remainder of the pudding mixture. Then, add a final layer of graham wafers. Ice the eclairs with chocolate frosting (from the can).
Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
It reminds me of the decadence of pot luck parties where you can eat dessert first or have nothing but swedish meatballs for dinner. But, because I had only skimmed the ingredients, when I got home the second time and started opening can of X and pouring tin of Y, I realized that I STILL didn’t have everything.
I had read the recipe slightly wrong. Plus, I was sort of amalgamating it with another recipe I’d found online. Because, I can always manage to talk myself into making things more complicated than they need to be.
Improving 50-year-old recipes, as it were. Like the ones in this vintage book my friend Shades bought for me,
So, the improvisation began.
And then, I ran out of graham crackers, because I had read the new, amalgamated, Frankenstein’d version of the recipe wrong and was actually using a similar but not requisite ingredient, so I had to improvise again.
Then, there was an emergency phone call to my aunt at the last, dramatic moment.
And now, I have to wait 24 hours to see the result. To see if four graham crackers short really does wreck a vintage dessert.
It’s like Grandma Hildegard all over again.
At least, I hope.