I'm dropping the ball.
If I look up from my laptop at this very moment, and cast my eyes across the kitchen, there is a countertop overflowing with produce from our garden. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, corn….I've lost my canning and freezing mojo. Want to hear a few of my excuses?
I have only one working burner on my stovetop. (sometimes, two on a lucky day.)
I have no freezer space.
I needed some inspiration. So this weekend, I stood in front of my shelf of cookbooks and looked for the one I thought might provide it. I grabbed The Joy of Cooking
, which rarely lets me down, and then reached for one I don't look at often enough, my More-With-Less Cookbook
. If you don't have this cookbook, it is worth adding to your library just for all the small words of wisdom tucked around the recipes. It's like having a book filled with your grandmother's notes. The book is filled with the mindset of using what you have, saving and preserving your bounty. It was just the inspiration I needed.
It got me thinking that there had to be another way, besides heating up my little kitchen with pots of boiling tomatoes, to preserve some of this garden goodness that we've been waiting for all year.
That's when I decided to dig deep in my closet and pull out the dehydrator my mother-in-law threw on our moving truck when we left Wisconsin for Maryland, a few years ago. I've used it once. For a large batch of apples, that apparently I was the only one who truly appreciated.
I read online that the small, sweet and meaty tomatoes are the best for dehydrating. So I went to the garden and picked every single ripe small and meaty tomato I could find.
I washed and topped and sliced tomatoes, loading every single tray in the dehydrator and feeling quite proud of my little discovery.
I carried the dehydrator over to the only plug in the kitchen that I knew wouldn't blow the fuses in the whole house and plugged it in.
I jiggled the cord. Smacked the lid down a few times. Banged it around on my counter. And searched for an "on" button, thinking maybe I'd forgotten how it worked.
When Dan came inside for lunch I was disheartened.
"I have this whole thing chock-full of tomatoes and it's completely dead. "
He got that glint of excitement in his eye, only a man can get, and went looking for a small screwdriver. While the girls and I sat the kitchen table eating our tuna fish sandwiches, he sat with the dehydrator across his lap, wires and fans and heating units hanging off in every direction.
After testing it with that little beeping pen that announces the presence of electricity with it's squealing beeps, he knew it was losing power somewhere and there was only one more thing to do with it–take it to my uncle's shop.
He came home an hour later empty-handed and said something about a "diode" and that it couldn't be fixed.
But…my uncle had the exact same one in his basement.
And so, my friends, long story longer, I have successfully dehydrated my first batch of tomatoes. This may be my summer of the dehydrator. I wonder what other things I can suck the juice out of?
Winners of the giveaway from Friday:
Cooking Fun goes to:
Fantastic books, thank you for the wonderful giveaway.