Currently I am scouring cookbooks for easy ways to use up all my garden tomatoes. Sure, I’ve heard of tomato blight. I think even two of my plants had it. But two out of 39 doesn’t dent my tomato crop much. How did I end up planting 39 tomato plants? Well, there’s the story.

It’s a typical Cristie tale for those who know me. Combine a soft heart, three entire packs of tomato seeds, a sunny window in March and it’s actually pretty easy to get 84 healthy tomato plants. Oh, my heart wasn’t entirely soft; if I hadn’t thinned out the weaklings I might have had more. But my co-worker, Vicki, warned that if I didn’t thin I was putting all my plants in peril from over-crowding. When she suggested I sacrifice the weaklings for the good of the rest I accused her of being callously Utilitarian. She shrugged, but with sympathy in her eyes she assured me it was the only way to get any decent plants for the garden. So one afternoon in April I took advantage of a grumpy mood and thinned. Following this questionably ethical act, I ended up with 84 healthy plants. But who needs 84 tomato plants besides a tomato farmer, which I am not? So I gave away as many as my co-workers and neighbors would accept, sold some at my garage sale, and in the end had to dig up my grass to enlarge my garden to receive the remaining 39 tomato plants. Friends tell me that I needn’t have planted all of the seeds in the packs. Seeds will keep for next year’s garden they say. But in March those seeds were so small and I wanted summer so much.

Now, come September I’m looking for as many novel ways to use up tomatoes as I can find. I’ve been making tomato casseroles, spaghetti sauces, tomato salads, and plus we’ve been eating those red buggers whole right off the plant. I’ve never canned in my life, probably because as a kid I watched a farm woman canning in 90 degree August heat and it looked like hell in a kitchen. But with red tomatoes rolling in off the vine I just might reconsider. Yesterday I took my  first step to ‘putting-up’ tomatoes. With the intention of eating some and freezing the rest, I followed an easy recipe named basic blender Italian tomato sauce. What I liked best about this recipe was I wasn’t required to peel the tomatoes. Click on “Continue reading …” for the recipe.

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