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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

Tomatoes: Sauce and Casserole

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't be fooled with "Vine Ripened". This term means that the tomatoes were picked when 10 (TEN) percent of the skin started to "break," or turn from green to red.

It is time to choose locally grown tomatoes to ensure flavor. The less distance the tomato travels, the longer the fruit is ripen before it is picked. That is why I write this idea. I have encouraged the locally grown tomatoes producers to plant. One who lives at 203 West Harrison Street has produced enough beautiful plants now that when the ripening comes there will be the freshest, most beautiful heirloom and hybridized commercial tomato varieties that he will sell either in Stall 13 on Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market or at the above address. That is what we call Kennett Home Grown. "Good job".

The commercial producers of tomatoes work for high yield and the tomato does not produce enough sugars and other flavor compounds to make them tasty.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, and tomatoes should be in the middle of the City Seal of Kennett, Missouri, Oh! sweet corn, potatoes, green beans, yellow squash, and peppers would be around the outside of the seal. Come August, 2012 that city council will be trying to raise all our food bills up another percent and a half with their sales tax for things they have not thought up yet to purchase, but they will if you let them. It is just funny that a council thinks they can promise something that will be carried over to the next elected city council, and that the new council will honor. The next council will say we got into office because we were against the sales tax passage, so let us promise we will work towards reducing the sales tax and in the mean time we can start collecting again the property tax for increased expenditures, "We" , the newly elected council will do what we think is best for our own pocket book. Their own pocket book, I hope you read that statement twice.

Back about the tomatoes. Looks are not everything. The commercial tomatoes are bred to look pretty, red and perfectly symmetrical. But the odd shaped tomatoes, cracked skins are okay. Just don't purchased tomatoes that are overly soft and leaking juice. If they smell fruity and fell heavy, that is the cue to put them in your grocery basket for the dish of your choice.

When you get them home, don't store them in your refrigerator. Even cut tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. At the season's end, take the glut of tomatoes and core them and freeze them whole in the freezer in freezer storage bags. Freezing preserves flavor better then canning.

If you cannot find locally grown tomatoes, the big store has Kumato, a startlingly green-brown European imports that have more fructose than conventional tomatoes. The Ugly Ripe knobby-looking fruits are a good supermarket standout. They are left on the vine longer than other commercial varieties, so they are sweeter and juicier. Because they are delicateness, each fruit is individually packed in protective foam netting.

My choice along with many Test Kitchens of canned tomatoes are Whole: Muir Glen Organic, Crushed: Tuttorosso, Diced: Hunt's, Puree: Muir Glen Organic, Juice: Campbell's, and Paste: Goya. If you can't find the different brands, you won't go wrong using Hunt's brand on all the different needs.

Now for a couple of ideas. First is a "Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce". For two cups, take 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 4 garlic cloves, minced; 2 pounds tomatoes, cored, peeled, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks; Salt and Pepper; and 1/4 cup fresh basil.

Stir oil and garlic together in large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about two minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if sauce begin to stick to bottom of pan, until thickened and chunky, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

The last idea is for Creole Tomato Casserole that will serve six. When you have lots of tomatoes do this recipe and when serving, take left overs and freeze.

Take 3 tablespoons vegetable oil; 2 cups chopped onions; 1 bunch green onions, chopped; 1 cup chopped bell peppers; 1 cup chopped celery; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 1 pound ground beef; 6 Creole tomatoes or Kennett's locally grown tomatoes; 1 teaspoon swalt; 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper; 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves; 1 cup fine bread crumbs; 6 tablespoons butter, melted; and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and next 4 ingredients, and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add ground beef and cook until brown, stirring often. Add tomatoes, salt, cayenne, oregano, and basil. Cool over medium low heat uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour beef mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs, drizzle with butter, and add cheese. Bake until cheese melts,about 15 minutes.

Have a Happy.

Larry Eiker
Eiker's Burgoo of Food Ideas