Tomato – word of the week

My first experience of bottling tomatoes was in an Italian kitchen of a family friend. Bizarrely, the wife was American and the kitchen staff were from the Philippines, so with us Brits thrown in the mix and the kitchen being in Italy, it was a truly international affair. I was a teen. Maybe pre-teen, but I was given the best job of the lot. Standing at the far end of the pleasantly warm and fragrant kitchen, it was my role to pop the basil leaves into the neck of the bottles, before the caps were added. A cushy number.

Now, you’d think that with three continents worth of knowledge of bottling tomatoes and an undemanding role in it all, I would be on the fast track to becoming a guru on the subject. I had time. No. All I remember are the plum tomatoes and the thick, red sauce they made, filling bottles that I’d only ever seen wine in before. Lots of smiling faces, as homegrown food was preserved for later. Oh, and also that no tomato should ever exist without basil somewhere near it. An undisputable fact that I still live by.

Several decades later and I’m still stumbling through the process. This year, I have grown more plum tomatoes, in the hope of recreating that thick sauce, I remember. I do have a passata gadget, but I still find the best way to de-skin tomatoes is to score a cross at the top and cover them with boiling water for 10 minutes or less, off the heat. Wastes less.

This week has certainly been punctuated by tomato processing. Sun dried, ratatouille, pasta sauce. Ketchup next on my list. Once I’ve dug out my glass ketchup bottles, I keep specially for this process. More squat and chunky than the wine bottle shaped ones of my childhood experience, but if I close my eyes…..

(unicorn pepper waiting to ripen)

There is more to bring in yet. I’m not even looking at the apples, if I can help it. Between you and me, I’ll admit that I’ve reached the point, where I’m a little bit jaded. Grateful for everything growing so well, but not so gleeful about getting the beans or raspberries in, each day. Happens every year. Temptation to put up a PYO sign at the gate, but I’m holding on to the thought that in the cold months, I’ll be glad I made the effort. I find myself scowling at myself for thinking that way.

Probably doesn’t help that it also seems to be peak season for school to send forms and information out. Seriously, my laptop notification beep was on overload yesterday, as a stream of emails from them came in. Fun and games going through them all this weekend, with the appropriate child.

We’ve also been in to school for an information evening for Middle Teen. How we can support her through the next two years running up to her GCSE exams. We’ve already been through this once with Eldest, but the school has changed its method (again), so not a waste of an evening, after all.

Over the last year or two, I’ve been more aware of how many of their friends are getting tutors. It’s not something I’ve rushed into, but I can see how this advantage is really making a difference, and gaps are appearing. I have avoided it. I’m no tiger mum.

Once saw a tiger mum shouting up a climbing wall, to her offspring, to climb faster. It shattered the quiet and considered climbing of the whole wall for several minutes. At that point, I knew I could never be a tiger mum. Not my style, but I’ve come to realise that extra tutoring is not about pushing, but more providing. The school cannot give 1-2-1. Of course not, but we can. A pass just doesn’t seem enough, in my mind, after all those years in school.

I’ve done my research, and we are heading down that route, with our first lesson booked. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not as if I haven’t tutored other people’s children, so I know the advantage. Anyone else gone down this route?

There goes another week. A week where I channelled my inner tiger mum and roared quietly. Where I brought more garden goodies in and started to feel like I’d had enough. Also, a bit of making going on that I can’t really show you. Is it the weekend yet?

Joining in Anne’s Word of the Week. My word is tomato. When you start to dream about them, you know it’s taken over your week.

Word of the Week linky

11 thoughts on “Tomato – word of the week

  • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 12:35 pm
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    OH, I’d love to have loads of tomatoes. I’ll have to learn how to preserve them, home made ketchup sounds good.
    I had a tutoring program offered as a review for my daughter who was falling behind her peers. but she really didn’t enjoy it. Then when I was home schooling my son I found it hard to keep his interest unless it was online programs. Thankfully, there are plenty of them, and he was more willing with hands on learning than writing things down. I just leave it to the schools now and hope they achieve as much as they can. I am also not a tiger mum, but I do try to incorporate learning into things we do and places we go. The sort of learning that they don’t realise they are doing but it sticks with them a lot better.

    • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 12:40 pm
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      That has been my approach so far, which serves well when they are younger, but not so much in the later years. Subjects are specialised. I’m hoping it will boost confidence and help with exam answering too, which I think is definitely lacking. I am not a natural tiger mum, so I keep arguing with myself!

  • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    Have you ever watched a show called brambley hedge? Or read the books for that matter? There’s on story, during harvest, when every kitchen is stored to the brim with fresh picks and reading your post immediately makes me think of that! I’m 28 now but the illustrations from the stories still make my heart happy! If I could give myself some advice looking back at my school years it would be to do mini study sessions each week to go over what I’d learned. It all comes at you so fast and I found most of the information disappearing almost as quickly! I hope you find an approach that works for you all 🙂 #wotw

    • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 9:36 pm
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      I’ve seen the Brambly Hedge books and they look so appealing! The illustrations, I mean. Kind of Tasha Tudorish.

    • Saturday 12 October, 2019 at 12:56 am
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      We have the books. They are delightful. Yes, she has to find a method that works for her.

  • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 8:48 pm
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    Oh wow! You have been busy with the tomotes. It sounds like you have grown so much.
    My dad has apple & pear trees and he has far too many so is letting people pick their own.
    I think it’s annoying how you get the hang of getting kids through GCSE’s and then they change things. Good luck with the tutoring. x

    • Saturday 12 October, 2019 at 1:02 am
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      This year has been very successful on the growing front. It is lovely to have surplus. Even better to share it with others. Your father’s garden sounds wonderful.

  • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 9:38 pm
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    I think my brother would really like it if I tried to make sauce with some of our tomatoes, even though they’re not romas. I have so little inclination to do this – I would far rather eat them until they are coming our of our ears, truly, because they’re so delicious to just eat. But if we can remember to grow some plum tomatoes next year, I should try sauce.

    • Saturday 12 October, 2019 at 1:07 am
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      I think some tomatoes just need to be eaten as they are. I have one plant of Russian black tomatoes and I can’t resist helping myself to one every time I go in the greenhouse. Even better when warmed by the sun. The plum tomatoes do work well in a sauce.

  • Friday 11 October, 2019 at 10:21 pm
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    Reading about all the things you’re making with your tomatoes and the photos of your harvest makes me feel hungry. I can imagine though that it does get to the point where you have to keep reminding yourself that all the effort will be worth it later on. Good luck with the tutoring. We’re some way of having to think about things like that just yet although it seems everyone does it for the 11+ which I have quite mixed feelings about but not something to worry about just yet. I’m not sure I’m really a tiger mum either. Hope you have a lovely weekend x #WotW

    • Saturday 12 October, 2019 at 1:17 am
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      I’m glad we didn’t have the decision when it came to 11+, as we don’t have it in this area. I’m sure we would have opted for it. The tomatoes have been good this year. I’m going to enjoy them in the winter.

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