Muffy Vhay: Recovering after recent hail storm
For the Nevada Appeal
About three weeks ago now, we had the hail storm to end all hail storms. In just 12 minutes, our vegetable garden was reduced to shreds and sticks; all the trees lost many of their upper leaves — which were, of course, all over the place. There were deep channels full of water and hail stones, and mud cascading down hillsides, and a good inch of hail on the ground everywhere. The east side of Washoe Valley, where we are, and parts of Carson City, took the brunt of that particular storm cell.
When it stopped, we went out to look around. It was pretty devastating at first. It looked as though the fields and trees and garden would never recover. We thought the apples were too badly damaged to survive. The corn — which I usually have frozen a lot of — had lost so much leaf we were sure it would not be able to ripen. The tomatoes looked just plain awful. Winter squash vines, which cover a lovely arch over the garden path, were decimated, though it looked as though the base of the plants were undamaged. Alfalfa plants in the fields were stripped of leaves and broken and bent. Grass hay was bent over and badly damaged.
What could we do? Some things were obvious. The beans were a total loss, as was lettuce, and maybe broccoli. But we thought it might work to cut back chard, beets, basil, and some other plants, tidy up, and see what might recover. We’d have to wait and see on the fields, too.
Now, three weeks out, after lots of trimming, clipping and cleaning up, the regrowth has been amazing. Still no beans, still lots of bruised apples, but we have corn and broccoli and chard and much more. So many of the tomatoes were damaged I wasn’t sure there would be enough usable ones to make our usual winter supply of juice and sauce. A friend suggested we roast the damaged ones, because we could remove all the bad parts and still have tomatoes this winter. Thus, today’s recipe for roasted tomatoes and herbs.
ROASTED TOMATOES WITH HERBS
A disclaimer – remember, I am a “dump cook,” so the amounts here are not definitive at all. Use what you have. These tomatoes are wonderful in pastas, soups, stews and casseroles.
Have ready glass, ceramic, or stainless steel flat baking dishes. Don’t use aluminum. Dishes such as pyrex-type glass that are 9-inch by 13-inch or 11-inch by 15-inch work well. The measurements in this recipe are for the larger pyrex-type glass baking dish. Set the oven at 325 degrees. If you have a convection oven, use that option.
Tomatoes (I prefer red, but others work well also) — about 8 or 10 pounds
About 1 cup olive oil
2 or 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (or more if desired). Your choice of basil, parsley, thyme, oregano and rosemary.
5 or 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar (aids browning and adds flavor)
Salt and black pepper (can be added later, to taste)
Pour just enough of the olive oil into the bake dish to barely cover the bottom.
Cut stem and blossom ends and all bad spots from tomatoes. No need to peel. Seed if desired.
Cut in halves or quarters. Spread in pan in one layer, just touching.
When the pan is full, mix rest of oil with remaining ingredients and pour over the top, mixing very gently.
Place the bake dish in 325 degree oven and roast for about 3 hours to 3:30, checking every hour or so. When the tomatoes are nicely browned on top, they’re done. Freeze in single-use size containers or use right away.
David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.