Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nice News

Just got a letter from ROSEBUD. They'll be publishing another group of my haiku in April--15 of them. Yale Anglers' Journal emailed that they just published "Haiku for Anglers" in their latest issue. Perhaps I should spend more time on poetry than prose.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Signs of the Times

Santa's late, my child
The TSA is sitting
atop our chimney

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Right Stuff

I would like to write more on this in the near future, but since I haven't written anything here in three days, I'd like to start the groundwork now.

With elections coming up next month, I've been seeing a lot of TV ads from candidates. What's confusing to me is this: you see an ad espousing a certain candidate. The content is disparaging to his/her opponent, while the candidate whose ad it is, is praised.

Then, at the end of the ad you see the candidate, and he says, "My name is John Smith and I approve this message."

Really? Why?--because the message has his opponent looking like the next key suspect in the JonBinet Ramsey murder, and the candidate who paid for the ad looking like the new Messiah?

I'll continue to watch these ads--waiting for some candidate who paid for the message say, "My name is John Smith, and I disapprove of this message."

Monday, October 09, 2006

The End of the Harvest

Okay, relax; this'll be the last time I write about tomatoes. Don't want you folks to start cyberly throwing rotten ones my way. Besides, I got a lot of world-shaking stuff that, in due time, I want to write about--like maybe rutabagas.

In Long Island’s Sunday Newsday, (yep, where the fictional Ray Barone writes a sports column) a Garden columnist wrote how badly the home grown tomato crop was this summer. Since I, personally, had a great yield I thought I’d write her—I don’t know whether I wrote it to enlighten my fellow Long Islanders or just to rub it in.

Dear Irene,

I read your piece in Sunday’s Newsday, “Tomatoes a bunch of lemons.” I’m writing to tell you that I had an enormous harvest of Early Girl tomatoes.

I’ve only planted tomatoes twice—once last year and once this year. Last year it was Patio tomatoes, in which I had a reasonable yield considering I used only four large pots. This year I planted ten Early Girl plants which yielded something in the neighborhood of 500 tomatoes—maybe 90 percent of them unblemished

It could be that I didn’t know what I was doing, (beginner’s luck.) I used Root Blast in the soil, and also fertilized about every ten days. The garden area amounted to some forty square feet of land. The plants grew six feet high—I measured. I live in Oceanside with a backyard with no imposing trees, and facing south.

Besides supplying and re-supplying some neighbors—who were getting tired of thinking of ways to say “thank you”--my wife and I ate an awful lot of tomatoes and also brewed up four gallons of tomato sauce. I currently have roughly 100 tomatoes sitting in my kitchen with nothing to do.

Yours in cornicopian splendor,


Friday, October 06, 2006

...And Tomatoes

Making tomato sauce is a pain in the ass, but fairly simple. There was some trial and error involved. (when it comes to doing any project I ignore any instructions--oral or written. My life has always been cluttered with my constant reinventing of the wheel.)

I slice an 'X' on the bottom of each tomato, then plop them into boiling water for about a minute. I remove them with a ladle and put them in ice-cold water. The skin becomes loose and partially peels away. The nude tomatoes then go into a blender on the "blend" mode.

We've had this strainer contraption in our house for years, and I just found out it's made to remove the seeds from the sauce. It's got a crank on it and a blade stirs the sauce, moving the seeds away from the strainer holes.

I use plastic, quart containers--accumulated from years of take out orders of Won Ton soup. My wife's a hoarder; I have to beg her to throw out plastic forks, spoons and plates. "These things exist," I explain, "to be thrown out after one use." It hurts me to see her hand washing this stuff.

My canning pot and mason jars are in the garage, which I"ll be attempting soon. I figure my won ton soup quarts in the freezer will keep us in tomato sauce until December, and the mason jars will last us until spring.

Oh, when you take out the sauce, you still have to come with your own recipes. Luckily, we're Italian.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.

This was only the second year I planted tomatoes. I used "Early Girls"--they mature in a mere 54 days, which fits in, loosely, with my propensity for instant gratification.

The eventual height of my plants reached six feet, and the widths were, counting hanging branches, about four feet. I hadn't expected such a large crop. As the fruit matured I'd pick the red ones and gleefully bounce into the house to show my wife my agrarian prowess.

Soon they were producing so quickly that all our BTL's, hamburgers, salads, etc. were not enough to even dent my supply.

This soon led my wife to ask, "Why the hell did you plant so many?"

I began distributing them to my neighbors--I'd say about twenty pounds of them--sometimes repeating my rounds. This stopped when they began to give my funny looks. I think they were running out of new ways to say "thank you."

I then started making tomato sauce. I now have three gallons of sauce, in quart jars, in the freezer section. We ate a lot of packaged, frozen food to make the room. It takes roughly ten "Early Girls" to make a quart; so figure I used 120 tomatoes in sauce alone.

At this time I have approximately 150 ripe tomatoes sitting around doing nothing. I bought mason jars, and a large canning pot this week figuring, out of necessity, I would have to learn this dying art.

Next year: bell peppers only.