So one of the first things that I’ve grown to love about Knoxville in the summer is the Grainger County tomatoes. Grainger is the next county to the north, and they know how to grow ’em. So we decided to go to the source last Friday and head up to Ritter Farms about 45 minute drive north of Knoxville. They grow and sell wonderfully fresh produce, and cook up delicious meat and three lunches on weekdays.
The lunch we had there was the best. I had been craving some serious southern style meat and three since we got here, and this place serves the best for 5 bucks a plate (plus a dollar extra for the sweet tea). And on the way out we picked up a bunch of those tomatoes, some pickling cucumbers, half a dozen ears of corn, and some homemade apple butter. With a giant lunch for two and three grocery bags full of produce and preserves, it only set us back $27.
So what to do with this beautiful, perfect produce? Well, I’m in research and training for doing some real canning and preserving this fall, so with the cucs I decided to make some refrigerator pickles. I had done this before, but with a recipe from Roy Finamore’s book that turned out too sweet for my taste. So this time, I had to turn to homemaker extraordinaire, Martha Stewart for a recipe. This one didn’t have any sugar at all, so we’ll see how they turn out. Only 5 more days to wait. I did half of them as spears and half as slices to see which work better.
As for the tomatoes, I’ve never made a real sauce before from real live fresh tomatoes. But I figured it couldn’t be all that different from using canned whole tomatoes, especially if you simmer the hell out of it for a few hours. So I winged it and made a marinara sauce from the best fresh tomatoes I’ve ever had. It was absolutely delicious; I’ve never had a red sauce that actually tastes like all the vegetables that are in it. And I’ve got a freezer full of it.
Before the ol’ blender stick went in: