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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I love tomatoes!

Well, it's true.  I do.  

Let me show you the crazy ways.

A couple years ago I got all excited because they were coming into season, so I went to a farmers market and got an exorbitant amount of them.  What did I do next?  Ah yes, now I remember.  I ate them like my life, your life and the fate of the world depended on it.

Then I got mouth ulcers and I couldn't stand up straight because the acid in my stomach was burning holes on the insides of my body.  I called a chiropractor who instructed me to eat beets (now I know some of you say "yum" when you hear the word beets.  I say "dirt" and "barf" and "bleeeeeeaaaachhh".), and not only eat beets, but to eat them with...get this, apple cider vinegar.  As if the beets and the stomach aliens weren't enough, now I'm going to have to bottoms-up-drink-er-down with some ACV.  Fan-freakin'-tastic.  So, I did.  I love torture.

After a few days, I was able to stand back up again.  It was great.  That whole being upright thing is actually really handy.

Then came the next episode in the saga of my life and tomatoes.  Canning!!!  My dear friend Jen taught me how to can.  This girl can can!  (Isn't that a great sentence?)  Jen can actually do anything.  She knows how to knit, quilt, garden, can food, deal with boys (she has only 5 of them - six if you count her hubby) AND chickens, and she is a patient and calm teacher.  So I went over to her house for a hands-on tutorial.  Yay!  (Thank you, Jen.  You are awesomesauce!)

After I learned, I figured I could try it myself in the privacy of my own stingray-laden kitchen.  So, I did it.  It took like four hours.  Then I read about botulism and I dumped all of the jars I did myself into ziploc bags and put them all in the freezer instead.  Great experience.

Today I decided to climb back up onto the horse.  I was inspired by my other friend (hej bastis, hur ar laget!), Tess.  We went to her house and had the best spaghetti in the whole world.  She brought me to a beautiful row of canned tomatoes and showed me that that was her starter.  I knew that I must do it, too.  

Now I am not afraid of canning preserves of fruit, that is a rip-roarin' good time.  But the tomatoes!  OH!  They scare me.  The day I read about botulism is burned on my brain!  Maybe it's burned there with tomato acid.  Anyway.  

Today was my day.

So, since I like to be completely over the top at all times, I purchased some tomatoes to can today.  How much?  

Thirty-five pounds.  

Yes, f'real.

I got this huge box from a lovely farmer who told me he doesn't spray anything on his little beauties and that was good enough for me.  He carried it to the car for me (I let him.).  Then I was off, speeding on my way towards home with a box that was the size of a small dog's cage filled to the top with tomatoes of all sizes.  I got home, took out the canning supplies and then went out to get the box.  This is when I realized that thirty-five pounds is a lot of tomatoes.  

Then I opened the box.  What I saw before me was a vast sea of unending tomatoes.  Botulism flashed in my mind.  No.  I'm going to do this.  I will be just fine.  

Holy smokes, that is a lot of tomato!  Yes, yes, yes, I will get lots of practice.  It will be great.  Hubby came home.  He says, "When you said 35 pounds of tomatoes, I thought you were kidding.  You were not kidding."

Psh, I can do this.  Okay.  What was it again that I'm supposed to do?  Just what everyone does - look up stuff on the internet.  Then call Jen in case of an emergency.

Got it.  

So I make a mess and make it look like I slaughtered something in my kitchen - there's red tomato madness up the side of my fridge, every countertop is covered in tomato and canning accessories and my hair is curling from the amount of humidity I am putting into the air in the form of billowing steam.  

Let me just make something clear here.  I hate messes.  Hate.  They can be in other people's places, I don't mind them there.  But when it crawls over into my area, we've got a problema.

Oh we had a problema, all right.  I made the local dump look like a professional garden  with a complete butterfly house in it!  Okay, I say, self - get it together.  We can clean this up later.  Focus.  Tomatoes.

Yeah, I think I can focus on the tomatoes.  They're on every surface.

So in go the first batch of jars.  Pop!  Pop!  Pop!

Wait, wait, wait!  What is that?  Is that supposed to happen?  What is that popping?  I don't remember that happening when I was with Jen.  

Open lid.

Awesome.  The bottoms of the jars busted off.  So now I have a sea of squishing tomatoes in glass-infested waters.  Time to go fishing!  Boiling water + broken glass = a pretty good time.  I only broke 5 jars total.  Only.

After about 6 hours, I wondered if I was absorbing the acid through my skin.  My lips were chapped beyond recognition, my fingernails were turning slightly orange.

But, yes, oh yes.  I did it.  I had to scrounge up every jar in the house to get them all in, but off they went.

I conquered the tomatoes.  

And now, even though I won't want to look at a tomato until January, they'll be there.  Waiting patiently for me.

Sans botulism.

I hope.

Long live spaghetti!

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