Friday, January 1, 2010

The Fruits of My Labors

It's January, and our North-facing driveway is covered in ice, but we've been eating farmer's market and homegrown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil, peaches, and apples. This is the time of year when I'm thankful for a long summer of food preservation. When I grab a jar of tomato sauce for a quick dinner, I think about all the August nights I was up past midnight waiting for those jars to seal. As I open another pint of salsa when visitors drop by, I remember trashing my kitchen during nap-time to end up with a few jars cooling on the counter. When pregnancy cravings prompt me to raid our linen closet for a new jar of dill pickles, I am happy to have destroyed my fingernails peeling all that garlic. And when Baby requests more "sauce", it's satisfying to open another quart of sugar-free applesauce for my little angel...even if it meant hours of pressing cooked apples through a food mill.

My desire to learn about home canning was inspired by a friend who stayed with us a couple years ago during a road trip with her family. She brought salsa and jam as a housewarming gift, which struck me as the most thoughtful gesture. It's been nice to have a pantry full for my little family, but even better to have quick gifts on hand. Everyone on my Christmas list ended up with at least two jars of food. A loaf of bread and some jam or apple butter have become quick sympathy and get-well-soon gifts for friends.

I thought I would share two more recipes that have brought the best of summer flavors to my table in the middle of winter. Both are freezer recipes, so you don't need any special equipment to enjoy them next year.

This Pesto Torte has been described as "the best thing I've ever tasted" by multiple people in my life, believe it or not! It's a spread for crackers, the perfect hors d'oeuvre to bring to a party. You basically make an entire round spring-form pan and divide it into slices, wrapping and freezing each individually so that you have eight portions ready for parties throughout the year.

By the way, this blog is one of my favorites: Thy Hand Hath Provided. Her young family grows and preserves most of their own food and buys the rest from local farmers. She posted instructions for roasting and freezing roma tomatoes. They are flavored with olive oil and fresh herbs and end up similar to sun-dried tomatoes. I have a gallon bag of these guys in my freezer and am LOVING them! I have yet to buy a single hard, waxy grocery store tomato all winter (except when I asked Nick to pick up some bananas and he came home with about three pounds of tomatoes instead...???). These roasted tomatoes have found their way into pasta dishes, grilled cheese sandwiches, white pizzas, and casseroles. Yum!

It's a bit cruel to share these recipes now, when tomato season couldn't be further away. Sorry. Just giving you a taste of summer before you have to go shovel your sidewalk again!

Photos courtesy of Thy Hand Hath Provided.


  1. I am so glad you are enjoying the roasted tomatoes! We think they're like summer gold in the winter:-).

  2. That post is so great! And cruel :) All the yummy things you have! We just ate half a jar of your salsa today. I liked the descriptions of your sacrifices for each item of preserved food ;) It all payed off...for all of us that got presents from you also!