6 posts tagged with “tomatoes”

  • Watch: Migrant Dreams shows migrant labour nightmare

    Editor’s note: I was invited to screen Migrant Dreams by GAT PR. I was not paid for this post, nor did GAT PR have input into this post.

    It’s not often that I’m embarrassed to be Canadian. In fact, this might be the first time I’m saying it out loud and in such a public way.

    But it’s how I felt after watching the documentary Migrant Dreams, a film by Min Sook Lee, about the plight of migrant workers toiling in our greenhouses — packing cucumbers, harvesting tomatoes — as part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program. (The documentary premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. on TVO). They come for the opportunity to do the low-skilled, low-paying work that Canadians apparently don’t want to do.

    I say apparently because in 2009, I reported on the systematic firing of local workers so that a nearby greenhouse could start importing help using the program.

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    Category On the Farm


  • Peach Tree
  • Police tape and tomato paletas

    The yellow police tape around my community garden has been removed.

    That’s given me the green light to return to my trusty patch of dirt where I can grumble to my bug-eaten kale about the weeds, curse my insect-chewed greens to the apple tree nearby, and wince at tomato plants that look like the inspiration for a B-Movie horror flick villain.

    It wasn’t long after my lament at being cut off from the garden because of a fire investigation that we all got the go-ahead to return. But what made me flinch more than coming back to gnarly plants was the gaping hole cut into the church’s roof by flames and firefighters’ axes.  Continue reading

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    Category Recipes


  • Peach Tree
  • The unfussy: Eat Istanbul’s tomato and yogurt salad

    I woke up Saturday morning to an email telling me my community garden was closed until further notice.

    My prolific plot that has kept me in more kale than I ever thought possible is behind a vacated church that was set on fire late last week. To say this is a bummer is beyond an understatement and almost as unnecessary as pointing out the sky is blue. Alas, it is what it is — a jut-your-bottom-lip-out D-R-A-G.

    Last time I saw my tiny patch of dirt a few days before the bad news, there were tomatoes on the verge of being fully ripe and ready for picking. And now that I’m living a freelancer’s life, I was looking forward to having the time between interviews and columns to go fetch them and yank a few weeds in the process. After all, I now work for the coolest boss ever who would let me take an extra long lunch to do these sorts of things.

    The dog days of the season are here and I know this by the amount of tomatoes I’ve been eating. While I’ve been having problems keeping up with my kale, I never have an issue staying on top of my tomatoes.

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    Category Recipes, Reviews


  • Peach Tree
  • Summer sealed in time

    Looking out the window, it’s easy to get nostalgic for summer.

    That glorious sunny season has been over for slightly more than a month but today’s grey skies and dreary drizzle make it feel like it has been gone forever.

    There are still signs of summer thanks to a few stragglers — the hangers on, just like me — in my CSA baskets. I still get tomatoes, though these are distinctly fall fruit. They’re tasty but fleshier, less juicy than their summer counterparts. They don’t burst with the same liquidy bite or sweetness they do in August.

    Still, I’ll take them because they beat the cardboard-like orbs that will appear on grocery store shelves soon, signalling the start of my tomato fast until next year.

    photo of two hands cupped holding fresh cherry tomatoes

    Good thing tomatoes are the one local food item I have consistently made a point of preserving year after year.

    I like to think that what’s stashed in my cupboard from my preserving efforts a few weeks ago is a tomato trifecta — summer captured and immortalized three ways in mason jars and freezer bags.

    When I got my usual bushel of toms this year, I had high hopes of making sauce again. But once I got started, I remembered that no matter how much I love to eat the stuff come December, I really don’t enjoy jarring it.

    Peeling tomatoes sucks, quite frankly. It’s messy and tedious and come sauce time, I lament my lack of a food mill and try to remember to ask for one come Christmas. This year, I’ve taken to writing that down as a note to self, since clearly, come December, when my canning experiences of August are but a distant memory, so, too, is my desire for a food mill.

    Photo of basket of red, yellow, orange and green tomatoes.

    I managed to jar three litres of sauce before I decided it was time to regroup. I had to hurry, though, because the hordes of fruit flies that had taken to camping out in my kitchen catcher were migrating to my box of tomatoes, which were languishing with each passing day that I laboured to decide what to do.

    The winning fates for my tomatoes turned out to be oven-dried editions and conserva. And the only reason I’m writing about this now — long after the opportunity to preserve these puppies has passed — is because I have reached for both versions frequently since their creation and have been grateful for their existence every time.

    Every bean I’ve pickled, jam I’ve made, sauce I’ve served doesn’t compare to these two additions to my preserving repertoire.

    The conserva, a fancy name for tomato paste, came my way via a suggestion on Twitter and a link to a brilliant recipe. Just be sure to keep an eye on it while it’s condensing in the oven if you decide to try this. Some of my conserva wound up a casualty of my distraction and got burned and caked onto the pan.

    But what I could salvage is zippy and boasts such a fresh flavour that I fear the upcoming winter sans fresh tomatoes a little less.

    The real coup for me is my oven-dried tomatoes because they are just so damn good. This is the easiest way to preserve them but it does require a lot of patience and even more self-control to keep from eating every single shrivelled tomato that emerges from the oven in one sitting. It also requires kicking the guilt reflex to the curb while scooping out the innards and dumping them, worrying that I’m wasting such precious bits. Next year’s project will be finding a use for those.

    Still, the result makes me forget all that. These tomatoes are like jerky for vegetarians. Chewy and satisfying. Salty and sweet. And oh, so tomatoey. They are like candy.

    For every one I put on a pizza, I eat three more. They’re addictive and more flavourful than any sun-dried version I’ve bought in the store.

    They are summer sealed in time.


    Oven-dried Tomatoes

    The tomatoes that work best are the uniformly shaped fruit, not the bulbous, misshapen oddballs. Save those for salad or soup. Small to medium-sized toms work best for oven-drying.

    Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.

    Scoop out the innards and lay on an oiled cookie sheet.

    Sprinkle with salt (I used a coarse sea salt).

    I kept mine in my oven at the lowest temperature setting — I think it was 150F — for between eight to 12 hours, removing the small ones after eight hours and leaving the larger ones to dehydrate longer.

    Make lots because they’ll disappear before you know it.

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    Category Recipes