The Dream of the Red Tomatoes (and yellow and pink and green and purple and striped…)

Every time my husband comes up from the garden with the last of the cauliflower or a huge bunch of leeks or green onions, I find myself longing for the day when the tomato plants will be full of luscious ripe fruit.  Funny since by the end of the season last year I was actually sick of fresh garden tomatoes.  I think I moaned aloud when Clive brought the last few batches of tomatoes from the garden.  And by batches, I mean about a 100 tomatoes each time.

The Bounty

The Bounty Close Up


Sad and disgraceful that I would ever find displeasure in our garden’s bounty, but after eating tomatoes fresh, making soups, salads, sauces, salsa and jams, canning them, roasting them, giving them away and putting them on top of most everything we ate last summer, I couldn’t help it.

Canning Collage

Canning Tomatoes

Roasting Tomatoes Collage

Oven Roasting Tomatoes

But now I find myself longing for that burst of flavor that only a homegrown tomato has.  One of the simplest and tastiest recipe I came across for using a large amount of tomatoes was Jamie Oliver’s Fresh Tomato Soup recipe.

Jamie's Tomato Soup Collage 4

Fresh Tomato Soup

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver


1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 lbs large ripe tomatoes – leave a few of their little green leaves on

A handful of fresh basil

Sea salt and fresh pepper

White wine vinegar

5 -6 tbsp. cream

Extra virgin olive oil


Throw the carrots, garlic, tomatoes and most of the basil (set aside a few smaller leaves for a garnish) into a blender and blend until smooth.  I found it easier to do this in several batches.  Pour into a large saucepan and season well with salt and pepper.  Simmer gently on medium low heat for about 20 minutes until it thickens up., stirring occasionally. Add a small drizzle of white wine vinegar and then bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the cream and remove from the heat.  Serve as is or use an immersion hand blender to make it smooth. I skipped the last two steps because I felt it tasted fresher without the cream and I preferred the rustic texture.  Serve with a few small basil leaves on top as a garnish

Jamie serves it with his cheesy cheddar toast soldiers and I served it with my sister and my famous “After Church Sunday Cheese Bread”.  Any good cheesy toast recipe you have will do.

The Fay Sisters’ After Church Sunday Cheese Bread


2 slices whole wheat bread

Kraft Parmesan Cheese (any good parmesan will work but for nostalgia sake, I always use the good ol’ Kraft from the big green container)


Garlic Powder


Generously spread butter on one side of the bread.  Sprinkle a healthy layer of parmesan cheese and spread it out evenly with a knife.  Sprinkle a light dash of garlic powder over the cheese.  Broil for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbling and starting to crust up and get brown. Enjoy dunked in the soup or on its own.

Tomato Art

Vintage Tomatoes

Canned Crushed Tomatoes

It has been a crazy few weeks. Work is super busy, lot’s of events on the calendar, trying to keep up with my three year old and then trying to keep up with the bounty from our garden. That alone could be a full time job! Since I didn’t want any of those beautiful tomatoes to go to waste, I decided it was time to claim my birthright and learn to can.

My grammy, aunts and cousins are all amazing cooks, bakers, canners, etc. so I knew it was in me. But having never done it before and I was very lucky that my sister offered to walk me through my first time. I arrived at her place Wednesday night after work, and she had already peeled the tomatoes so we were ready to go.

 Peeled & Ready

Peeled & ready to crush & boil

Since I wanted to be productive, I did not buy a bottle of wine when I stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up lemons. The second I looked at the pile of tomatoes, the enormous canning pot and all the jars I immediately wished I had a glass. Tammy to the rescue! My sister texted her neighbor and asked if she had two spare glasses of wine. Tammy came over with a chilled bottle of white and donated it to our endeavor.


Tammy to the rescue!

With a Crushed Tomato recipe from Every Day with Rachael Ray I set to work. It was so satisfying mashing and boiling the tomatoes and filling the jars. 


Carrying on the family tradition



Then watching them boil in the pot. Of course, the best part was pulling them from the boiling water, setting them on the counter and waiting for the “pop” so we knew the jars were sealed. 

I am hooked! I took Kim’s canning equipment home and made a tomato jam recipe from the same magazine. It is delicious – however, since it wasn’t a canning recipe, it didn’t seem to thicken enough. I did make sure to add lemon juice to the recipe to ensure the tomatoes reach the proper acid level. Kim is going to experiment with the recipe to get it to thicken – so stay tuned!



Canning Crushed Tomatoes

from Every Day with Rachel Ray


  • 6 pounds tomatoes
  • Ice water
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt


Using paring knife, core stem ends of tomatoes. Cut and “X” across non-stem ends. 

In large pot of boiling water, cook until skins begin to pull away from flesh, about 30 seconds; transfer to ice water bath. Discard skins, then quarter tomatoes.

In fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, press on flesh to extract seeds. In large nonreactive pot, bring tomatoes, lemon juice and salt to boil over high heat. 

Ladle hot mixture into 5 hot, sterilized 1-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal the jars. In water-bath canner, process jars for 35 minutes.


Originally posted on

Zucchini & Tomato Salsa (or Attack of the Garden Tomatoes)

About three months ago my husband got it in his head to terrace an unused portion of our yard for a garden. Now, when he gets a project in his mind, he goes for it full steam. He planted zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, arugula, Mesclun, sweet potatoes, green peppers and green onions. Either he has the greenest thumb around or our soil is naturally rich in nutrients … with the third possible option being that we have built our garden on a nuclear waste site!

About a month or so ago, the arugula came in – we ate it every day and I brought bags and bags of it to my co-workers but we still couldn’t keep up and it went to seed. This was followed by the zucchini and yellow squash, which I again shared with my co-workers, not to mention grilled it, caramelized it, made zucchini lasagna, zucchini cookies, etc. At one point my husband brought up a two-foot-long zucchini that he had somehow missed until it grew to a supernatural size. How you miss a zucchini that big, I will never know.

But then came the heirloom tomatoes – what I had been waiting for. At first they trickled in: one Beef Steak, two Red Zebras, a couple Purple Cherokees and couple Lemon ones. That was until this past Friday when he came up from the garden with an enormous bag full (along with more zucchini and yellow squash, of course).  

 #1 The Bounty
The bounty

The thing about our tomatoes is that they are so fresh and so vine-ripened that you have to use them fairly quickly, so this is what spawned “The Great Ashborn Tomato Fest.”  The only sad part of this story is that my husband was out of town for part of the weekend and did not get to partake in some of the bounty. Fortunately my sister and our friend Vickie stepped up and volunteered. 

I started with a fresh tomato soup from Jamie’s Great Britain. I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and as always, his recipe did not let me down. It is an incredibly simple recipe – no extensive chopping, no straining of soup. You basically throw all the ingredients in a liquefier (or my Oster blender) and liquefy it in batches, simmer it a bit, add some white wine vinegar and a touch of cream and voila! I served it with parmesan toast, a simple saffron lemon couscous with garlic shrimp and, of course, caramelized zucchini.

 #2 Weighing for Soup
Weighing the tomatoes
 #3 Tomato Soup
Jamie’s soup                             

I managed to use two kilograms (about 4½ pounds) of tomatoes for the soup (and even sent some home with Vickie) but my tomato bowl still runneth over. So on Saturday it was slow-roasted tomatoes (eight hours in the oven), a big Caprese salad and beef steak tomatoes on Vickie’s super delicious Turkey Burgers (hopefully we can get her to share her recipe here soon). Yep, that’s right, she came back for round two.  

 #4 Slow Roasted Prep
Prepping for the slow roasting
 #5 Turkey Burger
Vickie’s turkey burgers

By Saturday night my husband was back (and managed to eat most of the slow roasted tomatoes). On Sunday, I made a delicious tomato and zucchini salsa (instructions below) from a recipe that Kim found online.

 #6 Zucchini & Tomato Salsa
Zucchini and tomato salsa

I also had tomatoes and cream cheese on toast for breakfast and fresh tomatoes, grilled zucchini and sweet corn for lunch. Then I took a handful of tomatoes (along with the salsa and about six zucchinis) over to our friends’ house for a BBQ and yet there are still tomatoes in the bowl! To make matter worse (or better), my husband went down to the garden and brought up another huge bag. And so it begins again … 

Zucchini and Tomato Salsa

adapted by Jules from



  • 2 cups seeded tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips


  • In a small bowl, combine first 12 ingredients.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer salsa to a serving bowl, draining some of the liquid that accumulates while refrigerated.
  • Serve with tortilla chips.

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