Friday, June 13, 2008

Save the (potentially-infected) tomatoes. Or not. Your choice, really.

UN-TOMATO-RELATED-NOTE: There's a little preview of the new Coldplay album on my player over yonder, not due out 'til the 17th! I've got all but two songs here. Don't worry, Chris will get his dough: I've got it pre-ordered at itunes. Now, back to tomato business...

Yesterday I read an article that said the country's tomato business was in 'complete collapse.'

For some reason, the idea of all the red, ripe, juicy, mostly-salmonella-free tomatoes, all across the country, rotting in warehouses, in trucks, behind grocery stores, or on the vine, is making me sad. I keep thinking about it.

Yes, I know, it doesn't make any sense. I do nothing about Darfur, I've never saved any whales, and I always use more than one square of toilet paper, but finally, over fruit-masquerading-as-vegetables, my conscience is pricked. I feel moved to action. It makes no sense. I don't pretend otherwise.

See, there are likely just a few bad tomatoes, but all the tomatoes are being punished. For some reason, the spinach scare a couple years ago did not effect me in this way. Or meat recalls. Bad meat is too scary. Cannot save it; though, of course, it is a sad waste of life.

No, this is not a joke. I am not employing sarcasm as a literary device. This is a call to action.

Gentlemen (and Ladies), start you ovens.

I looked it up, and if you cook the tomatoes at 145 degrees for only 15 seconds, guess what? Wallah! Dead salmonella (if there ever was any on your tomato).

So then I thought, I should go to the Superstition Ranch Market, and save some tomatoes. I could buy boxes of them, and slow-roast them (at 200 degrees for 11 hours, that salmonella will be super dead, see?), and freeze them for sauces and soups. I'm wondering if the prices are good? Or if they will sell them to me at all, because maybe they are afraid I'll sue them or something? If I die (from handling raw tomatoes)?

So you see, the poor tomatoes don't deserve to rot. You can save them, too. Think how good you will feel if you save just one tiny grape tomato from the rubbage heap, landfill, or compost pile(no, wait, grape tomatoes are already in the clear; buy a sad little roma tomato, who would otherwise go without a home)!

UPDATE: My sister Jen has talked me out of eating potentially infected tomatoes. She said is very creepy and I should not blog of it. But I already blogged of it (see above rant on eating sicky tomatoes), and these days, with all the house cleaning and offspring-entertaining I'm doing, I find I have little time to write. So cannot waste even creepy, partially misguided (even if my heart was in the right place) posts. She also reminded me that I am not a Freegan. Which is true. I am not. I have no stewardship over those tomatoes. I have no responsibility for those tomatoes. I need to let the infected tomatoes ROT.

So, to kick off my tomato therapy, I just roasted the tomatoes from Melanie's certified-disease-free-garden (Tommy picks any of my tomatoes with the first sign of orange color, then chucks them against the block wall, so I have none of my own.)

(Okay, I'll be honest. I did get one. Like three weeks ago. Sheesh.)

I will make delicious soup, but maybe add no cream this time. Have lost 5 pounds this week (even though slipped and ate 1/2 a frozen brownie, three candy orange slices, and a handful of caramel popcorn), and have gone to gym twice.

TWICE, people.

Here's the recipe I use to roast fresh tomatoes:

see more details on Kalyn's blog
Slow Roasted Tomatoes Kalyn's Way
(slightly adapted from Alanna's master recipe)

20 Roma type tomatoes (same size tomatoes are best if your garden cooperates)
2 T olive oil, plus a little to oil the pan if you don't have a mister
1 T ground fennel
2 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried marjoram
(Any combination of herbs that appeals to you can be used.)

Preheat oven to 250 F (about 9 hours roasting time) or 200 F (10-11 hours roasting time.)

Wash tomatoes, dry, and cut each tomato in half lengthwise, keeping the stem spot in one piece (to grab when peeling the tomatoes later.) Put tomatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil and herbs.

Spray cookie sheet with olive oil mister (or brush very lightly with oil). Arrange tomatoes cut-side down on cookie sheet.

After about 8 hours, start checking tomatoes. They're done when skins puff up and tomatoes are reduced in size by at least half. It's a personal preference as to how dried you like them, and I prefer to cook mine until they look fairly dense, but still a tiny bit juicy.


Frumpy Luv said...

Man, I love tomatoes. I mean really love them. How can you go to Wendy's and not get one on your Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. It's wrong.

Congrats on the five pounds - exciting!!

Tam said...

Oh I love how you write! I feel the same way about the tomatoes! I can just see all the yummy HARMLESS bottles of salsa I could make. And stewed tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce! Oh I wonder how we go about getting the tomatoes ;) Or will the farmers just cook the can them and sell them so they won't end up going to waste?

Thanks for a fun post look forward to reading more!

The Broad Squad said...

You say tomato, I say tomaaahhto, let's call the whole thing off because I cannot swallow a tomato for the life of me! UGH! LOVE your site...!

Jolene said...

Yesterday, Courtney and I went to a movie and then to Cheeburger Cheeburger and she ordered a BLT. Afterward, in the car, she asked me what BLT really meant - I told her and she said "that is what I thought only my BLT was only BL".
I am jumping on the free the tomatoes bandwagon!

Superstition ranch is selling tomatoes with a large sign that says OUR TOMATOES ARE FROM CALIFORNIA AND THEY ARE SALMONELLA FREE. I think some salsa, sun dried tomatos and bottled tomato sauce are being added to my food storage in the coming weeks.

Jolene said...

ps thanks for the tomato soup recipe - I think I will try it!

Sunnispace said...

Oh, no!! I had no idea that this tomato crisis was happening - it's terrible! I was just enjoying some juicy store-bought tomatoes yesterday - apparently my Kroger is hip to the issue because I'm still alive. What a relief. Thanks for the update and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks! Good luck with your slow-roasted tomatoes - sounds yummy!

Brett & Shireen said...

I went to In-N-Out last week with my husband, and when I was a couple of bites into my burger, I said, "Why does this burger taste different?" His response, "There are no tomatoes on it." Well I too miss the tomatoes. Enough that Brett bought some infection free ones and I have been eating them. Yes, you heard me. I'm on your wagon, Kelly, save the tomatoes!

shell said...

good thing I hate tomatoes. but I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses more than one sq of tp either.

Merrianne & Spencer said...

I love tomatoes....thank goodness we have our own garden and we do not have to worry about it so much. *The Prophet said to Plant a Garden* yep...He knew what he was talkin' about! :)

and Frumpy Luv: I agree...The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger is NOTHING without the tomato! :)

The Motherboard said...

I loves me a good tomato... so this whole anti tomato campaign actually has me considering the whole FREEGAN lifestyle. (not really. they are gross) But, I want to save the tomatoes too.

Your moniker is AWESOME! I had to come visit you (i have no idea how i found you) cause I ~heart~ burts beeswax!!

I like your blog. It's nice. {said in my best napoleon dynamite voice}

Pam said...

Luckily my neighbor was nice enough to share her garden tomatoes with me so I guess I haven't felt the loss of the famous tomato yet... but I do love your "save the tomato" cause and I fully support you and if you need a picket sign holder or anything like that you know who to call :)
Ok here is what I really want to know though how in the heck did you lose 5 lbs in one week and still get to eat chocolate? I want all your secrets so start dishin'. I am no where near that and I am sweating away that the gym 5 days a week. What is my problem?????

Merrianne & Spencer said...

i just read that you live in Mesa AZ...i used to live there, too!

Alyson said...

I feel for you, though not a tomato-lover myself. Well, except for in a sauce. Love a tomato-based sauce, and it helps save your husband from prostate cancer, in theory anyway. Just can't stand tomatoes in their natural form. Hopefully, this crisis will end shortly! :-)

nevadanista said...

De-lurking alert - hope you don't mind. I really love your blog, and this tomato post really got me :) When the whole tomato scare happened and I went to El Pollo Loco and found the salsa bar empty, I can't tell you how irate I was ! And then no pico de gallo at Qdoba, that sent me over the edge. I thought about all those rotting tomatoes too, and how businesses went under, all because a few people puked. People puke all the time. I ranted for days on that one, and ate all the tomatos I could get my hands on :)