A Bumper Crop!

How hot has our summer season been this year?

Well, if you live in Australia and on the east coast of New South Wales you would be nodding your head right now and agreeing! And today was a scorcher! 35*C at 7am! Loving the southerly change though...

Personally, I love a hot summer and dread cold weather, not that you can call our winters cold when you think of Canada and other parts of the world where they experience temperatures dropping into the minuses. I prefer the warm weather, swimming in the sea and having that comforting sun-kissed feel of the sun and the saltwater marks drying on my skin during those warmer months.

Not only has our summer season been on point, but also the tomatoes in our organic garden have given us a bumper of a crop this year. We’ve been collecting up to 8 – 10 kgs a day … that’s alot of tomato salads to be had!

Being one that will only eat tomatoes cooked, I had to come up with a variety of ways to preserve these deliciously healthy vegetables (technically, tomato is a fruit but let’s save that discussion for another day!). 

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I don’t know about you, but I love recipes that are tomato-based. Recipes such as Stuffed Tomatoes (Greek), Harira Soup (Moroccan), Lentil Soup (Mediterranean), Lamb Shanks slowly cooked in a tomato sauce (Mediterranean), spaghetti bolognaise (Italian), and of course, smothering your pizza bases in a homemade tomato sauce takes those pizzas to a whole new level!

So, out came the large pot and before I knew it, we had nearly 150 small containers (300ml) of Tomato Passata stacked in our freezer to see us through to the next season. And by the way, the bumper crop is still not done with, so I am expecting at least another 50 - 80 containers to be filled.

We have a great partnership happening – my husband tends to the garden, planting the seeds, nurturing them, taking care to produce a fabulous crop each year – then he passes the fruit of his labour onto me and I take it and attempt to do it justice by creating food that is worth eating! It’s a great set up!

I remember when we were first married, and you know what it’s like when two very individual people come together, with their own ways and their own thoughts, not to mention we came from two very different backgrounds (Greek and Australian).. let’s just say it paves the way for some feisty arguments, I tell you!  

We were living in an apartment and were discussing what we needed to purchase for the cleaning. I grew up in a home where we used a mop and squeeze bucket to clean the floors. You know those mops that look like dreadlocks on a rod! My husband grew up watching his mum use a sponge type mop and plastic bucket… with the mop requiring you to use your hands to squeeze the excess water out of it.

Just imagine for a moment - we are having this ridiculous argument over what type of mop and bucket we were going to use. Hubby had some valuable points – ‘it’s only a small area to clean, so you don’t need a fancy mop and bucket’ but I had grown up using the other style and had become accustomed to that - and quite frankly, my valuable point was - I did not want to use my hands to squeeze dirty water out of a sponge mop. Gross!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I threw the deciding line out there … here it is .. ‘okay, if we get your style, you have to do most of the mopping!’ If we get my style, then I will do most of the mopping! 

Can you guess which mop we purchased? Hello dreadlocks on a rod!!

I am happy to say – we have come a long way since that first argument – can’t say we don’t argue anymore, but what I can say is that we have learnt to work together more harmoniously and value each other’s opinions and ways more than we did when we were first married - and the fruit of our labour - definitely our beautiful daughters, who are successful in who they are, and in what they do.

But back to our bumper crop – our tomatoes are looking fabulous and the sweet flavour is to die for! They are great in a fresh salad such as a traditional Greek salad or if you have plenty like us, pile them all in a large pot and make tomato passata to use on your pizza bases or in your spaghetti bolognaise or any tomato-based recipes.

Check out my latest cookbook – In Sofia’s Kitchen: Mediterranean Flavours Down Under and try out my easy to follow recipes and have your family and friends singing your praises before you know it!