Whenever I do something in the kitchen that’s a bit out of the ordinary, the little nag on my shoulder asks, “What Would Martha Do?”
The Martha is of course Martha Stewart. I think every woman above a certain age in this country has a love/hate relationship with this woman. With me, it’s mostly admiration, but when following one of her recipes or directives I eschew about 90% of what she claims is necessary because I am not in her shoes. (Her shoes, incidentally: 1. Staff. 2. Deep pockets. 3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.) I admire her mainly because she has both allowed and expected of her readers a very high level of craft and of beauty. There is no way I cannot not get behind that.
So, I am about to can tomatoes yesterday. There is nothing new in that process, as it’s a task I attempt four nights a week at this time of year. These tomatoes, though, were gorgeous. They were of the beefsteak variety: Brandywines, Hillbilly Potato Leaf/Flames, and Goldies. (Before you start saying “how is it yours are ready already, El,” I whisper the magic word to you: greenhouse.) Red, red/yellow/orange/green, and orange tomatoes, respectively, each above a pound and a half. Normal processing of these fleshy things means they’re destined for juice or a really runny sauce: yummy, but, when mixed together, their distinctive visual beauty is lost. So I sliced them up, stuck some red and yellow onions in with them, and processed them in the pressure canner*.
I think even Martha would approve. They’re mighty pretty.
*must be done in pressure canner, sorry. Nearly whole tomatoes and nearly whole onions, even if both are acidic heirlooms, could mean more microbial mischief if not processed at such a high temperature.