Spring came late and I should have covered the tomato and pepper plants, but I didn't. So when the frost came, they were left naked, and the dismayed plants protested my neglect by immediately succumbing to the chilly temps and turning a brittle, lifeless brown.
The following week I was back in the garden, scrambling to re-plant most of the vegetable plants, of various pedigree, mostly picked up off the bargain aisle of the local grocery store, which were the leftover varieties sold in lots of six for a dollar. So much for my well-planned and balanced array of heirlooms.
Which brings me to my late August dilemma... what to do with the hundreds if not thousands of mini tomatoes?
I've chopped them, turned them into salsa, put them in salads, eaten dozens at a time off the vine like candy. What else is there to do with the remaining... oh, five hundred or so?
The answer to that question came to me the other day - sundried, or rather, oven- dried tomatoes.
I sliced a few dozen of the little gems in half, and laid them out on a pizza tray dabbed with olive oil. I then sprinkled then generously with salt and popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for about four hours.
Every hour or so, I took a spatula and gently turned them in order to make sure they didn't stick. And rest assured I ate one or two in between just for fun.
As they dehydrated, the sun-drenched sugars concentrated and turned the morsels into tasty little tomato raisins. Consider those small jars of the store- bought versions cost anywhere from $4 to $8 apiece, well... one cannot argue with the price my home-made variety.
These dried tomatoes also store well for several weeks - either in plastic zip-lock bags or in a jar, covered with olive oil and perhaps accompanied by a few basil leaves and whole garlic cloves.
I put them on salads and dishes, and sandwiches.
Now my only dilemma is what to do with all the sun-dried tomatoes?