Sunday, September 9, 2007

How Do Ya Like Dem 'Maters!

I know I haven't posted in a while. I've just been non-stop busy. No time for blogging. Not much time even for replying to emails no less. It's that time of year, the time when tomatoes are just about ready to take over my house. They even show up in my dreams. It's the avalanche of tomatoes. I've been busy preserving the harvest. I've made sauce, salsa, V8 juice (note to self, count the number of "V's" may really be V7 juice), canned tomatoes, pickles and dilly beans. Oh and I made a small batch of strawberry jam back in June, which I’m hording for the winter. I have some more ideas about ways to use my tomatoes, but time will tell if I get around to it.

A few years ago, Molly had asked me to enter some vegetables in the fair. I sort of brushed off the idea. I doubted my stuff was fair material. Then with prodding from other family members too, I decided that I’d do it this year. I’ve never been a competitive person. I really don’t compare myself to others usually. Only trying do to better than I had before. Only in competition with myself. But also, I open to change as the years go on. Just because I never did something before, doesn’t mean that I can’t do it now and vice versa.

Thursday night was the time to bring my entries to the fair. The tough part is knowing what is going to be looking good by then. The timing is just a week or two later than my peak for veggies and flowers. Everything was looking picture perfect not long ago. The entry form has to be submitted ahead of time, and then they mail back to you tags to attach to your entries. So I signed up for things that were looking good at the time, not knowing if they’d make it or not.

So Thursday night, I was having a hard time getting myself together. Just one of those days. All the tasks that had to get done looming over me, made me feel as though I was stuck in molasses or something. I started to think about throwing in the towel and forget about entering anything. Hubby rallied me and after some coaxing, I snapped out of the molasses and kicked it into high gear. These were my entires:

Sungold tomatoes in the Tomatoes – cherry – orange category, 10 to a plate.

Black Cherry tomatoes in the Tomatoes – other category, they didn’t specify how many, but I figured it should be 10 like the cherry categories.

Viva Italia in the Tomatoes – Red Plum category, 5 to a plate.

Aurora Peppers in the Peppers – other category, 5 to a plate.

Annual flowers- Nasturtiums – 2-5 stems

Baking – Sugar Cookies – 6 to a plate.

Baking – Banana-bran muffins in the muffins other category.

Canning – Spaghetti Sauce

Canning – Salsa

I had signed up for some other things, but really didn’t feel they were perfect enough to enter that day. So they stayed home. Here are the results. Of the nine categories I entered, only two did not result in ribbons. Not bad for a first try.

My first year making Salsa for canning purposes. Third place is not bad. The volunteer working the canning section, told me Spaghetti Sauce was their biggest category with the most entries. Said first place was impressive.

My first place plum tomatoes. They sure are pretty. We ate these folded within some chicken cutlets for dinner Sunday night. They finally fulfilled their destiny. They were some tasty prize winning tomatoes.

My first place Sugar Cookies. I make a mean sugar cookie.

Black Cherry tomatoes took second place in the "Tomatoes Other" class. First place went to some tiny current tomatoes.

My favorites, Sungolds took second place to only a slightly larger, less orange entry.

Aurora Peppers took first place in their class.

Sunday, I got to take my entries back and pick up my ribbons attached to them. According to the premium book, I have some money coming to me too. It’s not much, a few dollars for each prize. I think that just may cover my seed purchases that will resume this winter. Well, SOME of my seed purchases at least. Hey, it’s seed money!

We harvested a lot of tomatoes this weekend as I mentioned. I forgot to weigh them, but the dining room table was covered with all types, large beefsteak, medium, paste (plum), and cherry. I fretted about what to do with this wealth of lycopene enriched goodness. I ate one for lunch, not much of a dent in the pile, but every bit helps. I sent some over to various neighbors, but still had quite a bit left after that. Already exhausted from making sauce and pickles this weekend, I couldn’t face doing anymore this week.

I put the tomatoes gently in a box and set them by my mailbox in front of my house. “Free Tomatoes” a sign read. Went about my business of going to the fair to pick up, returned home and it did not look as though anyone had helped themselves. Sad, but Sunday is a quiet day around the neighborhood. I really couldn’t stand to think of them going to waste. I thought, maybe some of the staff would be around at the town golf course up the road. It never hurts to butter them up. Drove my box of ‘maters up to the golf course and it was pretty desolate with a sign on the door “Course Closed”. Huh? Turns out it was a tournament.

The restaurant, CafĂ© on the Green (a nice place with pretty views of the greens) and snack bar were both open with golfers hanging around. Hubby thought maybe they might take some tomatoes home. He brought the box in to the snack bar and spotted the restaurant owner sitting there eating his dinner. Tracy is his name. Hubby had played golf with him a few times, being paired up as singles. He asked him if it would be okay for us to give away these tomatoes. Tracy popped a few cherry tomatoes in his mouth and said, “Don’t give them away. I’ll pay you.” He gave us $20 for the box of tomatoes. Considering we were going to give them away for free, that was pretty good. More seed money! I was quite tickled by the exchange. Tracy told me to bring up any extra I cared to sell him in the future. Voila! I’m now officially a farmer.


Marcia said...

WooHoo! Congratulations!

Pam said...

So cool - Farmer Jen!