Reduction

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This morning I decided to make roasted tomato paste out of the tomatoes from our garden. I started first thing in the morning. My mom always tries to get her canning done early in the morning, when it’s still cool, because the oven heats up the house. Also, for me tackling the tomatoes first thing in the morning takes away the question of what to do today.

I put on a pot of boiling water and filled the sink with ice water. I gathered all the tomatoes and put them next to the stove, ready to drop in the boiling water.

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At the beginning of the summer, I was really into figuring out what to do with all the vegetables. I was excited about canning and freezing. Then I kind of got tired of the garden. Tired of the cooking. Maybe I fell into a funk. Maybe I just got bored.

A friend of mine once told me I was finicky. I think that’s the word he used. I flitted from one thing to another. I didn’t have staying power. I got bored with things too easily.

He was the kind of person who pumped you up early in the relationship only to deflate you later. I guess he wasn’t really a friend in a lot of ways, but the deflating felt comfortable and familiar. It made me feel like he knew me when he told me I was finicky.

When the water was boiling, I put the tomatoes in for a 30 second blanch. Then I pulled them out and dumped them in the sink of ice water. I turned the oven on to 425, which was really going to heat the house up. It took about four rounds to blanch all the tomatoes.

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There was still a lot of talk this morning on Facebook and Twitter about Robin Williams. Most of it made me sad. Some of it made me angry. I read a post saying that he reaped what he sowed, or something like that. If you don’t get your shit together, you pay the price, and that was the lesson to be learned.

I used to tell myself that if you can survive depression to a certain age, you’ll be okay. Like, say, forty. If you live to forty with depression, nothing really bad is going to happen. Maybe, even, things will get better.

I knew deep down that wasn’t true. But I guess Robin Williams was a reminder. You don’t cure depression. You live with it your whole life. It never goes away. I don’t think that’s really reaping what you sow.

With all the tomatoes in the ice water, it was time to core and peel them. This is the hard part, but I’ve had lots of practice. My mother taught me to can whole tomatoes. I do it every summer, and this step is the same. But because they’re going to be pureed, you don’t have to cut them up as much. And you don’t have to be as vigilant. Just one tiny bit of bad spot or skin will ruin the jar if you’re canning tomatoes.

I pureed the tomatoes in batches in my husband’s new Vitamix, which he loves. It blended the tomatoes up really quickly and then I poured the liquid into roasting pans. I filled up three and put them in the oven. The house smelled like tomato heaven, which given how I feel about tomatoes, is the best kind of heaven.

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I have to go to the doctor today, and I don’t want to. Does anyone ever really want to go to the doctor? There’s nothing wrong with me. Or nothing wrong with me that would make me go to the doctor. She’ll probably tell me that I’m overweight, which is something I don’t need to be told. But I’ve already cancelled this regular check-up twice, so now I have to go.

Earlier this year, I got a urinary tract infection. I’m forty years old. I know what a urinary tract infection is. I know what it feels like. I called my doctor to try and get her to call in a prescription, but she wouldn’t without making me come into the office to see her. I did not have time to come into the office to see her. This annoyed me a great deal. I feel if men got urinary tract infections the way women do, you could treat them with over-the-counter medication. In general, I do not trust doctors to take care of women’s bodies and I wish I could.

The recipe said it would take an hour and a half to reduce the tomatoes to a paste, but it took longer, which was okay. The paste is too thick to can. I bought tiny little plastic containers so we could freeze the paste in little individual servings. Spooning the paste into the containers was very satisfying. Ten pound of tomatoes ended up like this:

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You start at the beginning with so many tomatoes and end up with so much less. But the flavor is more intense. They are reduced.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a great way to spend a day. Any kind of kitchen work I think feeds the soul. Don’t worry too much about what the doctor tells you, and don’t ever let anyone else tell you who you are. Sending good thoughts your way.

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