Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tomato Man

The tomato bisque is another example of a soup rich in body and flavor, but without any dairy.  Well, almost none.  I used some butter to sautee the mire poix.  The butter softens the edges of a potentially acidic soup and lends a very nice fragrance to it as well.  But most of the body comes from baby lima beans – cool trick huh?  Some pretty dried tomatoes from our garden and jars of canned puree bring that summer flavor together in full effect.  The secret sweetening ingredient is some frozen sweet corn!

After a fair bit of trial, error, and shuffling I have settled on our tomato supplier.  His name is Rodney Denu and he owns Brookside Gardens here in the Village of Mazomanie.  The operation is mainly wholesale vegetables that get shipped out, as far as I can tell, but he also operates a self check-out vegetable ‘garage’ that residents frequent during the summer months.  There are baskets of produce from green beans to eggplant lined up on tables. Against the back wall a bushel baskets with the names of those placed orders on the cork board Rodney checks when he gets home from his days at the construction site.

No, the produce is not organic, but the tomatoes are usually not sprayed after fruit set I’m told and I carefully wash the hundreds of pounds of tomatoes I process nonetheless.  Actually, half of this year’s haul of toms are organic.  I found them so disappointing I had to process and label them separately.  I use them in small quantities paired with Rodney’s to cover their shortcomings.  The organic tomatoes also represent a minor betrayal to me: I had cancelled an order to Rodney to accept these organic tomatoes from a different farm, because they were organic. Never again.  We have our tomato man, members - and no trivial matter since we handle over half a ton of tomatoes each year. Rodney is personable, helpful, honest, reliable, and a neighbor.  His tomatoes have been of excellent quality and his prices fair.  So is organic important?  Yes it truly is, but it does not trump all.

Enjoy your meals!

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