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The Autumn Harvest: Last Tomatoes Of The Year...

Well it’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in. There’s a noticeable chill in the air. Leaves are falling from the trees. Chestnuts are strewn along the ground. Birds and squirrels are busy fattening themselves up for the winter months. All of nature is readying itself for winter.

My garden is beginning to show signs of the cooler days and nights. Leaves are turning brown and my once prolific tomato plants are no longer producing the lovely juicy tomatoes that we enjoyed so much these past few months. This is what I believe to be my final tomato harvest of the year and I would like to do something special with them.

When I was younger I had an allergy to tomatoes. Fortunately this was an allergy I ‘grew out of’ because I adore tomatoes. I have a few favourite recipes for fresh tomatoes.

One is a simple – VERY simple pasta sauce that I sometimes make for lunch when I feel the need for a Mediterranean boost.

Luna Raye’s very simple tomato sauce for one.

Ingredients

A handful of cherry tomatoes (approximately 8-9).

1 clove of minced garlic.

Drizzle of olive oil.

Pinch of salt.

Directions

Heat a drizzle of olive oil (about 1- 1 ½ tsp) in a pan over moderate heat.

Add the tomatoes. You can put them in whole or chop them in half if you prefer.

Turn down the heat, add the salt and allow the tomatoes to reduce (10 minutes or so).

Give them a stir every so often and about half way through add the minced garlic.

It will smell fantastic!

Meanwhile put on some water for pasta – Penne is a good choice for this sauce – and cook the pasta according to packet directions.

Once the pasta is cooked drain it and add it to the pan with the tomatoes and garlic and give it a quick mix on the heat.

Season with black pepper and more salt if desired.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Tomato Sauce Extras

The thing about this sauce is that you can keep it very simple. However you can also add some extra ingredients such as caramelized onions, a splash of red wine, fresh basil leaves or parmesan shavings. It does work extremely well though with just the fresh tomatoes and garlic.

Another dish I like to make with fresh tomatoes is a chunky salsa sauce for corn chips. This is a great Happy Hour snack. It is tastier (and healthier) then store bought brands and is once again a very simple recipe.

Luna Raye’s very simple chunky salsa served warm (for two).

Homemade Chunky Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Homemade Chunky Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

A handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half (approximately 8-9).

½ Spanish onion chopped in long thin strips.

1 tsp brown sugar.

1 pepper chopped in bite sized chunks. (green or orange peppers are great for added colour)

½ fresh chilli (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes).

1 ½ Tbsp of frozen sweet corn.

1 clove minced garlic.

Drizzle of olive oil.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions

Heat a drizzle of olive oil (about 1- 1 ½ tsp) in a pan over moderate heat.

Add the onions and the brown sugar. Mix well and allow the onions to caramelize. Make sure the heat isn’t too high.

Once the onions have softened gradually add the minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and the chilli.

Stir until mixed in and then add the tomatoes and pepper.

Cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the last moment add the frozen sweet corn and mix in well.

Season with salt and pepper is desired.

Turn off heat and cover the pan.

Allow the mixture to rest while drinks are prepared.

Serve on individual plates with a side of plain salted corn chips.

Enjoy!

I am still undecided as to what to create with this final harvest of tomatoes! Sometimes however, it is nice to just enjoy the simple flavour of something as beautiful and perfect as a tomato grown in your own garden. I may just eat them exactly as they are while dreaming of what next year’s harvest will bring!

I wish all my fellow Canadians a happy, peaceful and abundant Thanksgiving weekend.

Final Tomato Harvest of 2010

Final Tomato Harvest of 2010

Summer Solstice: A Time of Reflection and Thanks....

It was 15 years ago, on the Summer Solstice – the longest day, that I had an accident that changed my life. I won’t go into the details but the result was that I spent a good few months bedridden in hospital and then a long time after that hobbling about on crutches. It was a challenging time for me, but it was also a blessing. Leading up to the accident I had been feeling extremely angry and frustrated at where I was in my life.

Although I was studying one of my passions, photography, I felt financially limited in terms of being able to fund the basic necessities of my course. Film and processing alone were very expensive and then adding to that props and accessories I was gradually starting to fall into debt.

My job was not a rewarding one either. When I first moved to the UK as a recent University graduate with top marks in Art History and Classical Studies, I had high hopes of starting work in a museum or art gallery. My hopes were soon dashed when I wasn’t even able to find a volunteer position. In the end I did find employment in an Art Gallery, but it was in the gift shop. The pay was barely a living wage with the expenses of London and my photography course. I did my best to stay positive but everything seemed to be caving in on me, and then the accident happened.

It was a shock and I spent the first few days scared, crying and feeling very sorry for myself. Fortunately my mom was able to fly over to be with me and that helped me more then I can say. It gave us a unique opportunity to really bond with one another again and I can honestly say that it was a very special time for me (and I think it was for my mom as well). My mom has a great sense of humour so we ended up laughing a lot which really does help put things into perspective. Laughter really is the best medicine!

I was also fortunate enough to work with a manager who was caring and also sensitive and understanding about my situation. If anyone else had been in charge I could have easily been out of a job and out of pay. He made sure I was looked after and that all I had to worry about was my recovery. Although I disliked my job I realized that there were loving and kind people around me who were doing what they could to help me through this difficult time. That meant (and still means) a great deal to me.

When I say that the accident was a blessing most people look at me like I’m an idiot, but really it was. It gave me time to reflect on my life. Where was I headed? What did I want to achieve? Was I truly happy doing what I was doing? And if not, then What action(s) will get me on the road to happiness and fulfilment?

It was because of the accident that I finally had the courage to study Massage Therapy. Aromatherapy and Reflexology soon followed and I now practice professionally. It also gave me the strength to finish and make the most of my photography course. I graduated and worked for a time as an assistant to a photographer and an assistant to a photographer’s agent. Neither of these career paths felt right to me, but instead of putting pressure on myself to carry on with something I didn’t enjoy, I felt strong enough to let them go without guilt or fear. The accident also got me on a more Spiritual path and I began to work actively with Angels and Fairies, which has completely transformed my life.

This year on the 21st of June, I sat in my beautiful sunny garden surrounded by flowers, tomato plants and Fairies. I thought back to the accident and reflected on the many blessings I have to be thankful for and how that one day, 15 years ago changed my life for the better.

Fairy Hiding Amongst The Fuschias.

Window Box Flower Fairy

Window Box Flower Fairy

Summer Solstice Crystal Heart I found this on my early morning Solstice walk.