My Tomatoes Are In A Jam

With today’s post another short one, I thought I’d share a bit more about my Grandpa. When we last left him, he had just finished painting the trim on the two-flat’s peak and had invited the neighbors to come into the backyard to “see my tomatoes” …

(Those interested can read the painting story by clicking HERE.)

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Tomato Jam 2

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Grandpa was well-known throughout our neighborhood and he could often be seen strolling about, his hands behind his back, with his right hand holding the index and middle fingers of his left hand. The little boy across the street took note and would often mimic Grandpa as they walked together or on opposite sides of the street. For Grandpa, this was the highest form of flattery.

He did more than just stroll about, however. If he heard the rumble of heavy equipment or the whir of power tools, he would be at the job site or backyard within minutes. Having once owned a contracting company, Grandpa knew and understood quite a bit about building and repair work. It wouldn’t be long before he’d be advising the worker(s) and oftentimes he’d pitch in, showing them how whatever it was should be done. His opinion was respected and very often sought out by our neighbors and the parish.

For example, the front of our church was a massive, floor-to-ceiling mosaic depicting a number of Grandpa & Cookiesaints and religious symbols. As the church settled, a large crack began to appear in the center of the mosaic at its base, stretching upward like some leafless tree. Grandpa was called in to repair the crack and to replace the tiny colored tiles. Not long after that, following a lightning strike, Grandpa’s knowledge of masonry was required to help with the repairs to the school. As I said, Grandpa was well-known and respected.

Well, once the heavier garden work — the tilling, fertilizing, and planting — was done for the season and with no repair projects to tackle, Grandpa had time to relax. You could often find him sipping a beer while resting in his hammock under the grape arbor, listening to George Kell announce the play-by-play for the games of his beloved baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. Sometimes he watered the garden from the hammock, using a sprinkler to get those places beyond his reach. Eventually the game would end and that was cause for concern for some of the wives in the neighborhood, for Grandpa would go for a walk.

It didn’t matter who you were — neighbor, passer-by, parish priest, mail carrier, etc. — if Grandpa saw you, he would strike up a conversation and, at just the right moment, invite you to “see my tomatoes.” Within minutes, there you were, looking at his 2 dozen tomato plants, tied to their hockey sticks in neat little rows. He’d show you the brick barbecue, his very much prized Chinese pheasants, the lettuce patch, the grape vines, the potted lemon tree, and his latest attempt at growing a fig tree. Within minutes you’d be invited into the patio and he’d have a cold one in front of you before your rear end settled into your chair. What’s this? You don’t like beer? Not to worry. There was a jug of red wine under the table. Oh? You prefer white wine? There just so happened to be a jug of white wine next to the red. Well, that first beer or glass of wine led to another and another and then another. Somewhere along the line, shot glasses would appear and whiskey was introduced into the conversation. Although the length of these backyard tours varied, they usually ended in the same way, with his guest leaving the yard, though quite a bit more wobbly than when the tour first began. In fact, there were a few times when one of us kids was asked to walk his guest home.

These visits did not go unnoticed by the wives in the neighborhood and a few men refused Grandpa’s subsequent invitations. Others would accept but leave abruptly after Come Into My Parlor ...the first beer. Of course, there were a couple who, for whatever reason, accepted the invitation with no apparent qualms at all. It was after one such visit that a neighbor approached Mom, angry because her husband had ignored her wishes and had returned home moments before, more wobbly than usual. I don’t recall whether she wanted Mom to control Grandpa, her husband, or both but Mom, recognizing a no win situation, did nothing of the kind, The husband, perhaps wisely, kept his distance and I don’t recall ever seeing him in the backyard again.

That’s too bad because he missed one of the greatest parties held in our yard. It was Grandpa’s birthday, though neither Zia nor I can remember the exact one. As was the case for each of his birthdays, all 13 of us ate dinner together in the patio, with a couple of family friends seated at the table as well.  Once the dinner was finished, neighbors and friends joined the party just in time for cake and liquid refreshments. As I said, Grandpa was well-known and you never really knew who’d show up. This year, even the parish Pastor stopped by. The poor man didn’t stand a chance, for the wine, beer, and whiskey flowed freely. I’ve no idea how much time had transpired but I do know that my Dad was seated on our front porch as Grandpa walked the priest back to the rectory. (You may recall the rectory was located at the opposite end of our block.) Dad was still on the porch when the two returned a while later. Apparently, when they finally reached the rectory, the priest kindly offered to walk Grandpa home, he accepted, and so they returned. Realizing that this could go on for hours, Dad offered to walk the good priest home and sent Grandpa to bed. Oddly enough, although he was invited, our Pastor was a no-show at Grandpa’s next birthday party. That was OK, however, for another priest, a recent transfer from Wisconsin, unknowingly took his place …

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I first became aware of tomato jam last year through my blogging friend, Marie, when she posted a link to a recipe for tomato jam that used Sungold cherry tomatoes. When I mentioned it to Zia, she remembered that Grandma had made tomato jam when both she and Mom were little girls. The way I saw it, I had little choice but to make a batch, which I enjoyed very much.

This year, my tomato plants did much better than they have in recent years but the weather was far from cooperative. Though Summer started quite warmly, the sun and high temperatures soon departed, not to return until late August. Up until that time, my tomatoes grew but never got the sun and heat needed to ripen. Then, as September started, so did the ripening and soon I had more tomatoes than I could handle. That’s when I decided to revisit tomato jam, making two batches within days of each other.

Unlike last year, however, my tomatoes weren’t Sungolds. In the first batch, I used only heirloom plum tomatoes. In the second, I used an even mix of tiny cherry tomatoes and more heirloom plum tomatoes. Since my tomatoes weren’t as sweet as Sungolds, I referenced Mark Bittman’s recipe for tomato jam, as well as the one suggested by Marie.

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Tomato Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3.5 lbs (1590 g) tomatoes, cored, and roughly chopped (peeling optional)
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 green Thai chiles chopped, seeds and veins removed (see Notes)
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Place sugar, chiles, and tomatoes in a thick bottomed, non-reactive pot. Stir and allow to sit for 1/2 hour.
  2. Using medium heat, add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil, before reducing to a simmer. Stir often to prevent scorching.
  3. Continue to simmer until the mixture resembles jam. This could take as little as 90 minutes or as long as 3 hours, maybe longer. If unsure whether your jam is ready, perform a plate test. (See Notes.)
  4. Once your tomatoes are jammin’, fill sterilized jars to 1/4 inch of the rim. Place the lid on each jar and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from the boiling water, place on a towel lined baking sheet, and place them all in a draft-free area where they will remain undisturbed for at least 12 to 24 hours.
  5. Check to make sure each jar is properly sealed and store them in a cool, dark place. Those not sealed should be refrigerated and eaten within two weeks.

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Notes

When researching the amount of time required to process these jars in a hot water bath, I came across 3 different time requirements; 5, 10, and 15 minutes. Preferring to err on the side of caution, I processed my jam for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Although I peeled the tomatoes in the first batch, it was virtually impossible to peel the dozens of cherry tomatoes, so, I didn’t. I was surprised to find there was no detectable difference in texture between the two batches and I won’t be peeling tomatoes for jam in the future.

After cooking for an hour or so, I used a potato masher to crush any of the cherry tomatoes that remained whole. This released their liquid into the pot and, I believe, shortened the cooking process.

In the first batch, I used 3 green Thai chiles, removing both seeds and veins, thinking they would be too hot if used whole. Well, I could not detect them at all. In the second batch, I used one green Thai chile, leaving seeds and veins intact as I chopped it. It’s heat was barely detectable. I’ve yet to figure out what I’ll do next time but I’ve a feeling there’s one batch of very spicy tomato jam in my future.

There are a few ways to test whether your jam will set. I use the plate test. While your jam is boiling on your stove top, place a dish in your freezer. When you think your jam is ready, take about a half-teaspoon of jam and place it on the now chilled plate. Allow the jam to rest a few minutes before using another spoon or your fingertip to see if the jam has set or is still too runny. If the latter, continue to simmer the jam while returning the plate to the freezer to await the next test.

The cherry tomatoes that I used are an heirloom variety called “Mexican Midget”. One plant will produce a great deal of fruit, though smaller than “normal” cherry or grape tomatoes. The largest of these tomatoes are no bigger than my thumbnail, with many as small as the nail of my little finger. Up until I used them to make jam, I tossed a handful of them into each of my dinner salads — and still dozens remained on the plant.

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Tomato Jam 3

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Black FigsSince this is a jammin’ post, we might as well be consistent. Today’s blast from the past is a recipe that I shared last year, Fig Preserves with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper. Not only is this jam great when served with toast and, say, goat cheese, but it works beautifully when used to stuff a pork roast. WIth figs now filling our markets, this is one jam you won’t want to miss. Just click HERE for the details.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Braised Goat over RIce

Goat in the Moorish Style

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199 thoughts on “My Tomatoes Are In A Jam

  1. Well, I needed a laugh and absolutely loved the story of your hospitable grandfather: hmm – would he have invited someone friendly from the opposite gender walking by? Perchance not . . . well, I would have had to wait till the white wine jug appeared methinks anyways 🙂 ! Absolutely love the tomato jam recipe with all the spices mixed with lime I so like to use . . . THAT recipe is already waiting for our tomatoes. If the present weather continues Down Under, this may be sooner rather than later !!!

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    • Grandpa was, first and foremost, a gentleman, Eha. Our neighbors were all welcome to see his garden but, unless the husbands were present, our neighbor ladies left as sure-footed as when they arrived. 🙂
      I do hope you give this recipe a try, Eha, and enjoy it like I do. I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

      Like

    • Thank you. When I made it last year, I was surprised at how flavorful it was. Not only is it good with cheeses, as you mentioned, but it makes a great glaze for roasted or grilled meats, too.

      Like

  2. I’d love to have taken the tomato tour! Your grandpa sounds so much fun. The tomatoes are fantastic and I bought so many recently without realising. Well maybe there was a purpose behind this mistake and that is to make this wonderful tomato jam 🙂

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  3. Hahahaha…c’mon let me walk you home..oh you’re very kind…we’re here now, hmmm…maybe I should walk you back… 😉 That’s what neighbourhoods are about, John, and folks like your grandpa were right at the centre of them! Out of curiosity, did you call him grandpa or nonno? And your tomato jam looks and sounds delicious! x

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    • You are so right, Celia, and I think it a shame that neighborhoods have lost that community feel. I know and speak to more neighbors than most but I still do not know who lives across the street from me. I miss the old days.
      Grandpa was never called Nonno. Growing up, ours was a mixture of Italian and English languages and I’ve no idea how some things came to be expressed in Italian and others in English. It all worked out in the end, though. 🙂

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    • I just googled “green tomato jam,” Roger, and got 4.5M results. I think you may be able to find a good one from a site you trust. I’ve not tried one but may have to by the end of the season. If I do, I’ll let you know which recipe I’ve chosen.

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  4. The world needs more people like your grandpa. What a wonderful story. He was very generous with his topping up of the drinks! My mother used to make a tomato jam and it was wonderful. I wonder if she still has the recipe. I’d love to make it again – if her recipe has disappeared, I can always turn to yours! xx

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    • Thanks, Charlie. Grandpa was really something and we can hardly get together without his name and memories of him being mentioned. He was such a big part of our life in the two-flat. I hope you do find your Mother’s recipe. I’d definitely give it a try if you do. Family recipes are the best! 🙂

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    • Tomatoes can walk? Who knew? 😉
      I was surprised how mild this jam was. Definitely give it a taste midway through cooking to see if it is spicy enough for you, keeping in mind the flavors will continue to concentrate as the mixture reduces.

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  5. Would have loved to meet Grandpa and see his tomato plants! Not too sure about the beer and wine. Maybe just a sip, or two, or three …. Would have been in trouble, that’s for sure. I don’t know how anyone could have resisted that charming man!

    Meanwhile, I’ll be jamming this week, with Sungolds! Thanks to you and your recipe!(Actually mine is SunSugar, very similar to Sungold, supposedly sweeter, but I can’t really tell that much difference.)

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    • I’m sure Grandpa would have loved to meet you, too. He was very out-going and would welcome all to his garden. Before you start simmering your SunSugars, be sure to check out the recipe that Marie gave me. That recipe uses basil, which goes very well with the sweet tomatoes. Good luck!

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  6. I far prefer tomato jam to tomato sauce (ketchup) although Celi’s homemade version may convert me. One day I’ll try making my own, both, probably. I’m looking forward to the Moorish Goat which I’m sure will be more-ish as well.. I love your Grandpa stories. I’m quite sure I’d be one of those who could be led astray into staying just a little too long 🙂

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    • Thanks, EllaDee. I make ketchup and it is a far cry from that which you find in a bottle on your grocer’s shelf. You really cannot compare the 2. This jam was such a surprise. Sweet like you’d expect jam but with a tomato-y flavor. I really enjoy it. I’m fairly certain that few entered Grandpa’s web expecting to eventually leave “wobbly.” It just happened — with great regularity. 🙂

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  7. I always enjoy reading your family stories, John. Your photos ar wonderful, too.
    My gardening friends were disappointed with their tomato crops this year. Too wet, blight, not many good tomatoes. Glad yours were so healthy .
    And that flat of figs looks so tempting!

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    • Thanks, Ruth. After such a slow start, I was surprised when they all started ripening — at the same time, no less. They’re all just about gone now, though I’ve a few heirloom Brandywine tomatoes to pick yet. Considering how abysmal the last couple years were, this season was fantastic.

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  8. Oooh, great spice combination! I’m still trying to find the time to make a batch this year, and thinking about going with rosemary instead of basil…Another great use for this (or any other preserve or fruit pickle) is to put a few tablespoons into the mayo when you make chicken salad. Been doing it all summer and loving the variety 😀
    Thanks for the shout-out!

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    • You’re welcome, Marie. Had it not been for your mention last year, I never would have made tomato jam in the first place and it brought to Zia’s mind a memory of Grandma. Good idea using rosemary and adding it to the mayo for chicken salad. That salad is getting pretty crowded. I’ve been adding a tablespoon or two of giardiniera since a friend suggested doing so last year. It’s soo good. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Stefan. I’d never heard of tomato jam until last year and I really do enjoy it. Serve it on toast with or without cheese, as a chutney, or use it to glaze chicken, pork, and even fish. I hope you do give it a try. I’d love to see how you’d use it. 🙂

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  9. Crying with laughter at the story of your Grandpa, especially the bit about him and the Pastor walking home and back again – you couldn’t make it up! I love family parties like that and fortunately we get to relive them here in Spain too – I can picture so clearly the neighbours wobbling home as the same happens here (sometimes we’re the hosts, sometimes we’re the wobbly neighbours!).
    Now, did you put this recipe up for me knowing that I am still under attack by the Killer Tomtoes? Have just bottled a couple of litres of them this morning but there are plenty more. Sounds gorgeous – do you eat it like a chutney?

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post, Tanya. I can certainly see the similarities between your life on the Mountain and our old neighborhood — and why I can see the attraction it holds for you. Those were truly some of the best times.
      You can eat this jam as you would any jam, Tanya, smearing a bit on toast or bread. I’ve served it with a variety of cheeses and crackers or, as you suggest, as a chutney alongside the dinner’s main. I’ve even used it to glaze chicken and pork ribs that are being grilled or roasted.
      The one thing to be sure to do is to taste it midway through the cooking. Depending upon how you may wish to use it, you may want to add a bit more chile or spice. I didn’t want to add too much because my/your ketchup is spicy enough and i didn’t want the two to be too similar. Either way, good luck!

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  10. Your Grandad sounds like one cool dude. Would of absolutely loved to have a glass of red with him, then the shots of whiskey 🙂 Can’t wait for tomato season here, our weather is slowly warming up and it’s all very exciting. I’d love to try this jam once we get our glut of toms 🙂

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    • Thanks, Lisa. Grandpa would have loved your company — so long as someone else was there. He was, after all, a gentleman. 🙂
      I cannot wait to see your garden grow this season. When mine is covered with snow, the least I can do is garden vicariously in yours.

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  11. Glad to learn your tomatoes finally ripened, and you are having a great harvest. Those sure are good looking cherries. Tomato jam is a clever way to use the garden bounty and enjoy at a later date when the garden is all snow covered.
    I would enjoy a tour of your grandpa’s garden and could learn a lot about gardening from him, what a generous and hard working person he was.

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    • Thanks, Norma. My tomato harvests have been pretty bad the past couple of years.Though I had my doubts about this year’s crop, they all proved groundless. I’ve had a very good year, tomato-wise. Next year we’ll work on timing. 🙂
      Grandpa was generous. He never asked to be paid whenever he helped around the neighborhood or when he worked for the parish. He saved the parish a great deal of money.

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  12. I loved your reminiscences about your Grandpa, and could clearly see in my mind’s eye, those young boys mimicking his walk. He sounds like he was quite a character. 🙂 Loved the “wobbly and more wobbly.” 😀 You write so well, and should write a book with all these fabulous childhood memories, interspersed with some of your wonderful recipes. The tomato jam looks absolutely delicious.

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    • Thanks. Yes, Grandpa was a real character and I cannot imagine life in the two-flat without him. He was the driving force behind so much of what happened there — and a great source for stories.

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  13. I think your Grandpa had it all figured out.. neighborhoods today are missing those garden visits and late night summer walks home. Perhaps we bloggers need to resurrect the practice.. all at once on the same night and then blog about it? Wouldn’t that create a food revolution!! Er, maybe a drink revolution! Love love the look of your tomato jam! My one little tomato plant has long since met its demise.. so I’m hoping there’s some sweet tomatoes available at the market or our Italian grocers! xx

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    • It was such a different time, Barb. We all lived in neighborhoods and knew each other. And, ours was the stereotypical Italian extended family living under one roof but, I’ll freely admit, I would not have had it any other way. Put it all together and it was pretty special.
      My tomato plants have just about had it, too. I’m hoping to pick some up tomatoes at the farmers market on Saturday. I’ve given away quite a bit of this jam and may need to make more. Besides, I want to figure out the chile component. I’m still not content with it. Have a great week. 🙂

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  14. Oh, nonno sounds like a charm! You had me laughing when he and the Pastor were taking turns walking each other home. And when you metioned that nonno always had advice to give people on how to go about certain jobs… It reminded me of my dad who used to say that it was the Italians who built Montreal because before that no one knew how to work well with the brick-layering, the ceramic tiling, basically anything to do with building! This was his way of informing me that Italians were the best at everything! Oh, I’m missing my dad right now!! Your tomato jam looks wonderful and I bet it woul be amazing in a grilled cheese sandwich! Thanks John!

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    • I think your Father and my Grandfather would have gotten along just fine, Lidia. They definitely shared the same philosophy about the role of Italians in their cities and I’m glad this post reminded you of him. I love a good grilled cheese sandwich and often put a slice of tomato in mine. You’re right. This jam would be perfect in one and you can bet it will be a part of my next grilled cheese. Thanks for the idea, Lidia. Have a great week!

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  15. Sounds like your grandpa and I would have gotten along quite nicely. Nothing better than taking a break in the middle to end of the day with friends, with a bottle or not! I do have a friend who always wants to show me her garden, but never is there a bottle attached. If I’m lucky she gives me a few tomatoes. This year some were on the ground and she wouldn’t even part with those! Next year I think I’ll try your grandpa’s style and just bring her the bottle! Good memories and good jam.

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    • Thanks, Abbe. If you had brought a bottle to Grandpa, you had better have been able to clear the rest of your day. He would not have let you get away too quickly and depending upon when you arrived, at least one meal would have been involved. It would have been a day to remember, that’s for sure. 🙂

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  16. Loved reading about your grandpa, so eager to help and connect with people. 🙂 I have never tried tomato jam, but it sounds iteresting. I’ve tried growing tomatoes, but here in CO, at least at our altitude, they require a plastic/hot house type cover to retain overnight heat and the hassle just didn’t provide better tomatoes than I could buy at the farmers market. So I gave up. :/ So glad your tomatoes finally ripened, it really does take heat and sunshine for that to happen and your havest looks beautiful.

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    • Thanks, Judy. i didn’t realize that the Colorado climate didn’t suit tomatoes. As beautiful as the country is around you, I now understand why we Bartolini have only visited your fair state. No tomato plants? Never!
      I hope the recent floods have not affected you, your family, and friends, Judy, and pray that a dry spell is on the way.

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  17. Fabulous story John! What a wonderful grandpa. Maybe I need to invest in some hockey sticks to prop up my tomatoes too. I am so intrigued about tomato jam. I have never had it before and sounds so incredible. I know I would love it. I love this post.

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    • Thank you so much. It was an annual ritual, us kids scrounging around looking for the hockey sticks Grandpa used in his garden. No matter where we hid them, he always seemed to find them. I made tomato jam for the first time last year and loved it. Now I’ll make it every year. It really is that good.

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    • Thanks, Sarah. This is the first year in a few that I’ve had enough tomatoes to make anything other than a Caprese salad — and am I ever glad. It worked out great and I made 2 batches of jam.

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  18. I think I would have definitely fallen for his “come and see my tomatoes line”! He sounds like such a charmer. Grandpas are great and I really miss mine.

    Love this tomato jam, John. I am liking the flavours and already thinking of some others; like mustard seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves. I can imagine all kinds of uses for this wonderful condiment. Thanks for the inspiration John!

    Nazneen

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    • I miss mine, too, Nazneen. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. 🙂
      You’re right about the jam. There are many ways to go with it and, once done, so many uses. I like to use it as I would a barbecue sauce with grilled chicken. I hope you do make some and give it your won twist. I’d love to see what you did. 🙂

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    • It really is not as spicy as you would think. I was surprised at how mild it was. Maybe it was the chiles. I’ll make it again and try a little more chile. I’ll find out soon enough if the chiles used in the original batches were “normal” or uncharacteristically mild. 🙂

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  19. Oh John, I cannot stop laughing, especially thinking about your grandfather and the priest walking each other back & forth. At least they weren’t driving & after a while I’m sure the effects of the refreshments. My father in law was an electrician who continued to take his required courses & exams until he was into his 90’s. He never charged for his work after he “retired” but wanted to be up to date in case a neighbor or the church needed any electrical work done. When we moved into this house 23 year ago, after a quick “warm me up shot” he immediately went down to the basement to inspect the wiring.
    And now I know about tomato jam – you’ve always got me adding something to my “list”.

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    • It is rare when we reminisce about Grandpa without that story being mentioned. Even though its been some 35 years, we laugh as if we’ve just witnessed it. Your father-in-law and Grandpa would have gotten along very well. I can see the two of them working on some project together. When there was a major job to do around the building, Grandpa often started his day off with an egg in his glass of beer. I’ve yet to try it but, then again, I’ve yet to paint a peak or plant 2 dozen tomato plants, too. 🙂

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  20. Your grandfather was such a dapper looking man, John, and sounds like quite the character, too! It’s lovely that you have so many great memories of him. I’m bookmarking this jam recipe for next year, when perhaps my spring and summer will go more smoothly, and I can attempt to grow some deck tomatoes. I do love tomato jam and yours sounds perfect. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Betsy. That photo of Grandpa was probably taken on a Sunday morning. He walked to mass every Sunday morning, his Old Spice announcing his arrival a few seconds before he actually got there. 🙂
      I’m sure next Summer will be a far better one for you. I’m sure you cannot wait to bid the workmen “Adieu!” and hopefully for good.

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    • You’re welcome and I share your fascination. This is only my 3rd Summer canning and much of it is new to me. I check and double check the recipes just to make sure nothing can go wrong in the processing.

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  21. What a fantastic story….I can envision the story of your Grandpa and the Pastor walking each other home….LOL. My dad has really enjoyed the IL weather this summer but I guess his tomato plants didn’t. I’ve been enjoying pickings from my sister-in-laws garden this summer in western Colorado….it’s been warm and sunny.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Ingrid. Grandpa was one-of-a-kind, that’s for sure. It’s been an odd year for tomatoes here. At first, it looked like I’d have a bumper crop. The vines were so growing very tall and were loaded with green tomatoes. I had to cut the tops of the vines because they were falling to the side and getting ruined. Then the weather cooled and became overcast and the tomatoes didn’t ripen at all. Very strange. At least enough ripened for me to make 2 batches of jam and a few Caprese salads. It will be better next year! 🙂

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  22. Great story about your Grandpa! I would have loved to have seen his tomatoes. 😉 He’s my kind of guy. And this jam is my kind of jam! We’ve finally outwitted the squirrels, so we’re getting tomatoes. And like yours, they’re all ripening right now! So we’ve been eating tons. I probably have enough to make some of this jam – I really like the idea of it. Really fun post – thanks for sharing with us.

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    • Thanks, John. Grandpa would have been only to happy to show you his tomatoes. I think you two would have really hit it off. Glad you outwitted the squirrels. If I put tomatoes that had fallen to the ground on a table in the yard, my Nemesis would take them and leave my plants pretty much alone. Yes, he might swipe one every now and then but it wasn’t a few a day as he had been doing. I guess he preferred to dine at the table. If you try this jam, you may need to up the spice content. I was surprised how mild it was even though I was using Thai green chiles. I had expected more heat.

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  23. Wow, John, this post is a classic, even among your multitude of standouts! I *love* the story of Grandpa’s life as a Pied Piper, leading all and sundry very [ahem!] happily astray from their appointed rounds, and all three recipes referenced sound absolutely spectacular. I’ve been wanting to make a sweet tomato (or possibly, half tomato, half strawberry) jam, so as soon as I get a chance I’ll use your recipe and process for reference, and now I want to make some figgy goodness too! And I have yet to meet your goat recipe, which also sounds stellar. What are you trying to do, keep *me* from all of my appointed rounds???

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    • Thanks, Kathryn. It’s genetic. I cannot help but try to keep you and others from their rounds. I’m not nearly as successful, though, as Grandpa was. Maybe I need a bigger jug. I’ve not thought of mixing tomato jam with something like strawberries but I bet it would work just fine. That fig jam is great, too, and is wonderful if used to stuff a pork roast. Yum!

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  24. I love the story about your grandfather. Sounds like a wonderful person! Makes me reminisce about my own grandfather. 🙂

    I also love the tomato jam you’ve made. My tomatoes didn’t fare so well this year, so I’ve enjoyed mine in salads.

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    • Thanks, Amber. Grandpa was really something and he made our building quite a home. Except for that 2 week burst, my tomato plants didn’t do well at all this year. Hope springs eternal for next season though … 🙂

      Like

  25. Although most of G’pa’s cakes were store-bought for his birthday, I decided I would make him one for I think his 83rd birthday.  I decorated it with frosting tomato plants.  I was super proud of it.  Alas grandpa was not impressed.  That was the last time he had a birthday cake.  A lesson yet to be learned by the Italian clan: Don’t mess with Donna.  

    >________________________________ > From: from the Bartolini kitchens >To: grimleafer@yahoo.com >Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:20 AM >Subject: [New post] My Tomatoes Are In A Jam > > WordPress.com >ChgoJohn posted: “With today’s post another short one, I thought I’d share a bit more about my Grandpa. When we last left him, he had just finished painting the trim on the two-flat’s peak and had invited the neighbors to come into the backyard to “see my tomatoes” … ” >

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  26. Hooray for grandpa and his fabulous den of iniquity! That poor young priest from Wisconsin had no idea what he’d signed up for. Love the look of your beautiful sticky tomato jam John. Great combination of flavours – the limes are an inspired addition. Gorgeous photo – is the little Tudor-style building in the background the church?

    Like

    • Thanks, Saskia, but you needn’t worry about the Wisconsin priest. He became a frequent guest in the garden and I remember walking him home a few times. 🙂 That building you see was a neighbor’s home. The church couldn’t be seen from our house though it was down the block.
      I like citrus in my jams. I use lemon in my strawberry jam and lime here. It seems to cut the sweetness of the jams a bit, which I like.

      Like

  27. This is a wonderful jam recipe! I think somewhere in my childhood I’ve had tomato jam, but I can’t recall the circumstance. I can somehow bring back the taste.Thank you, too, for the very specific details with the chiles. I get very uncomfortable cooking with them, always fearful I’ll overdo it! My tomatoes were so pitiful last year I didn’t even plant any this season. That’s a first in many, many years, but again, our summer was actually cool until a few weeks ago. Maybe I’ll try again next year. I did use the Farmer’s Market a lot. You have me thinking I might need to try again!

    Your grandfather was a wonderfully hospitable man who appears to have really loved life, being content with a rich garden, wonderful friends and family and his usefulness to others. He left a rich legacy, I can see. 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Debra. I hope you’re feeling better. There’s really no need to rush back into things.
      I’m still not happy with the chiles and need to make another batch, I think, to get it right. i wanted a bit of heat and didn’t quite reach that point. It’s such a great jam that I won’t mind having a few extra jars on the shelf this Winter.
      Grandpa was really something, Debra. He did enjoy his life and lived it to the fullest. He left his mark on all of us. 🙂

      Like

  28. What a fantastic tomato jam recipe…sounds delicious! Love the addition of the chiles. Glad you removed the seeds–my mouth would be on fire if I didn’t do that. Darn that low spice tolerance!

    Like

    • Thanks, Caroline. One of the cooking show reported that in a chile, most of the heat is actually in the veins of the pepper. I always take out both, seeds and veins, but I was surprised to learn that the veins were the real culprits. 🙂

      Like

  29. Ah, I missed your irresistible stories during my absence! I love the deep ruby color of your jam. While I love the flavor of Sungolds, the salmony color is just not as dramatic. I’m hoping to squeeze another batch of jam from my next trip out to the garden–the temps have been in the 80-90’s this week so the tomatoes are still going strong out here. The fuzzy dog; however, is wilting.

    Like

    • And I missed seeing you around, Cam. Good to have you back!
      My tomatoes are pretty much done for the year now. I may get a couple more but not much. I’ll have to rely on the farmers market for the next few weeks. I imagine theirs are about to give out, too. Oh, well. TIme for apples! 🙂

      Like

  30. Pingback: My Tomatoes Are In A Jam | Italian Food & W...

  31. I love the punchline about Grandpa and the priest walking each other home! We often forget that Jesus was an excellent winemaker and that parties in his day often lasted a whole week; your poor pastor must have suffered the raised eyebrows of more than one parishioner.
    This recipe looks really good; I would probably call it homemade chunky ketchup. Last year I made tomato jam which really is jam, just sugar and “sweet” spicing.
    Also last year, I tried making smooth ketchup, threw WAY too much chipotle powder in it, and ended up labeling it “for barbecue and baked beans.” So don’t worry, if you add too many Thai chilis, you’ll have created something new! 😀

    Like

    • Thanks! This is one of my family’s favorite “Grandpa stories.” I don’t think many parishioners saw our Pastor walk home. It was pretty late and we lived close to the rectory. And they all knew Grandpa. Most probably thought it was only a matter of time before he had each priest over to “see my tomatoes.”
      I make ketchup, too, though mine is a spicier version than store-bought. My jam isn’t nearly as spicy. Last year, the tomato jam I made was more like a jelly, with very little texture. I wanted this year’s to be more like a preserve and didn’t purée the tomatoes before cooking. It worked and this jam has a nice texture to it.

      Like

  32. What a great story of your grandfather, John. I know JT would have loved to be neighbours for sure. In fact, we had a similar situation in our previous house; when ever JT was no where to be found, I knew that I could look out the kitchen window and see he and our Latvian neighbour, Andris having a cold one on his back porch. Never failed. And there may have been one or two times that we wobbled back to our house across the shared driveway!
    I’ve never had tomato jam but I can tell you that you have my interest. What would you use it on?

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    • Thanks, Eva. Your Latvian neighbour sounds just like Grandpa. So many of the wives in our neighborhood came calling whenever their husbands were missing. Depending on the wife, she often joined the two of them. 🙂
      I use this jam as I do any jam, on bread or toast. I, also, use it with a variety of cheeses and make crostini with it. It makes a great glaze for chicken, too. I’ve yet to use it on fish, although I’ve heard that the two work well together. I wish I could send you some. I’d love to see what you would do with it. 🙂

      Like

    • Thanks. That photo must have been taking on a Sunday morning. Grandpa went to Mass every Sunday morning and that was his “Church Suit”. 🙂
      ur weather was strange this year. Very hot early on and then cool and overcast until the end of August. The heat returned and all of my tomatoes ripened at once. I was inundated and made 2 batches of this jam. Now, i’ve only a few tomatoes left to ripen. Like I said, weird.

      Like

  33. I will have to be repetitive, and echo all others who said they loved your story and your Grandpa!

    well, well, well, I tried to comment yesterday early in the morning as I had my capuccino and enjoyed your writing – wrote a pretty convoluted comment, and got kicked out of your site three times in a row… I prefer not to believe that you blocked me, so maybe the gremlins were at work..

    If I promise to behave and never convolute-comment again, would you let me stay? 😉

    Like

    • Sorry about the problems posting, Sally. Another was having troubles but I believe she was using an iPad. I hope your problems have been resolved. If not, we’ll need to notify Support. I wouldn’t dream of banning you from here or anywhere else. 🙂

      Like

  34. Your stories about your Grandpa remind me of the good old days when neighbors new one another. Not so anymore. People are not as friendly and the turnover of people who rent is very frequent. I miss those days.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    • Thanks, Francine. It’s true. The old neighborhoods are gone. Far too many couples both work leaving no one at home. I pride myself with knowing a number of my neighbors but I still know no one that lives across the street. I never see any of those people. People today do not know what they’re missing. At least people like you and I know what it was like and have happy memories of those times.

      Like

    • Thanks. We had our Grandpa around 24/7. I know that’s just not possible today for most. Still, the more time your Boys can spend with their Grandpa Wally, the more memories they’ll all have. And I bet Grandpa Wally will love it! 🙂

      Like

  35. Love the story about your grandfather. Too bad most people don’t know their neighbors anymore. The jam looks great. I made lots of jars of tomato jam last year with my yellow pear tomatoes. I had more than I could ever use. This year though my tomatoes didn’t do so well…..I am missing them dearly.

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  36. upon readng your recipe I now realise why my tomato jam went to the pigs! This is SO MUCH BETTER! I will begin a batch tomorrow, the september challenge does not apply to preserving thank goodness. The more I hear about your grandfather the more i understand you. Gregarious is the word that springs to mind for you both. Wonderful is another. Generous for sure. Coffee time for me now, then out to finish the chores! c

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    • By now, I hope you’ve made and are enjoying your jam. Well, I hope it’s good enough that at least you won’t throw it to the pigs. Comparing me to Grandpa is quite the compliment, Celi. Thank you.

      Like

  37. What a wonderful family story… yet again, John! Your Grandpa must really have been quite a Man: I would have loved being invited over to see his tomatoes! 😉 Also, thank you for a lovely tomato jam recipe!

    Like

    • You would have gotten along just fine with Grandpa, Stefano. You wold have passed the time swapping stories about the Old Country. He would not have let you leave until you were fed, too. 🙂

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  38. Endearing man, your grandpa. So funny though, men getting into trouble with their other halves, hahaha! I would have love to be a fly on the wall to watch the fun. Such heart warming memories to carry. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of that life.

    This is totally my kind of jam. Thai green chilies and tomatoes, totally sold!

    Like

    • Thanks, Minnie. Why be a fly when you could have joined in on the fun? You would have been welcomed with open arms. He was really something and that was a very special time.
      I would love to see what spices you put into your tomato jam and how you’d serve it. Why not make a batch? 🙂

      Like

  39. Never in my life have I heard of tomato jam which is too bad, because it looks really tasty. My mother has Big Plans for her tomatoes next year and I’m going to try to talk her into trying this jam.

    Also, wanted to say what a beautiful portrait of your grandfather you’ve presented. It’s so vivid – I can just see him walking down the street. He would make a great character for a novel, or memoirs, if one were so inclined…

    Like

    • This jam is surprisingly good, You Mother won’t be disappointed if a few pounds are diverted to the jam pot. You’ll see.
      Grandpa was a character, all right. When the family gets together, it isn’t long before he’s mentioned in one way or another. A book, eh? I’d never really considered it. Hmmm…

      Like

  40. Very funny story about your grandpa and the priest! I’m very excited to try this jam. I just need to wait for more of my tomatoes to ripen first. It’s been cold and rainy here lately, so I may have to make a trip to the market instead!

    Like

  41. What a lovely tribute to your grandfather. In your words of him, I sense great self dignity and pride in one’s profession.

    Your jam recipe too seems to be do-able so let me think of doing it one of these days.

    Shakti

    Like

    • My Grandpa was a real character, Shakti, and I’m fortunate to have had him in my life as a boy. I hope yo do try this jam and come back to tell us whet you think of it.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment.
      John

      Like

  42. What a great story 🙂 I still have plenty of tomatoes ripening in the backyard…I would love to give your jam recipe a try and try my hand at canning. It’s something that I must admit that I have never tried!

    Like

    • Thank you. I’m glad that you enjoyed the story. If you do not wish to can, you can make the jam and freeze it. Frozen jam will last up to a year. I have jam in my freezer right now. Good luck!

      Like

  43. I see tomato jam here from time to time (and eggplant jam, come to think of it…) but have never thought if making it. I might give it a whirl! I love your stories about your grandfather. Watering from the hammock – he obviously knew how to live life!

    Like

    • Thank you! What I didn’t mention is that Grandpa also kept a bottle of whiskey hidden by the hammock. You know, for when the watering was done and he needed something more than a beer. 🙂
      Eggplant jam? I’ve never heard of it but now I want to try it. We all love eggplant and making a jam with it would be wonderful. Thanks for the tip. I really do intend to search for it.

      Like

  44. This is a great way to still enjoy your garden tomatoes long after the warm weather has departed.
    Loved the story of your grandad. I can imagine all those angry wives when their husbands arrived home after a visit to your yard 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Colline, and you’re right. Nothing like a bit of tomato jam on a cold Winter’s morning. It’s such a nice reminder of Summer.
      The wives didn’t stay angry for long. Soon they, too, would be in the yard with Grandpa and their husbands, admiring the tomatoes — a glass of wine in hand. 🙂

      Like

  45. Thanks for sharing another grandpa story! What a great man! I would have love to have met him on the street and been invited to share a glass or 2 or 3 of wine. 🙂 What a great man! Definitely canning season! I made a spicy tomato jam yesterday. I love tomato jam and make it whenever I have some tomatoes that have set too long. Love the Thai chilies and the great spices in your recipe! I’ll have to try this one next time.

    Like

    • MJ, no doubt you two would have gotten along just fine. Of course, now I’ve ruined the surprise of that first chance to “see my tomatoes.” 🙂
      If you do try this recipe, especially since you already make a spicy jam, you may want to increase the amount of the other spices. i didn’t use much because I already make a ketchup that is pretty spicy and didn’t want the two to be too similar. This jam is more sweet, the ketchup savory. And I love ’em both! 🙂

      Like

  46. Using Thai Chilies for the Jam was a gutsy move 🙂
    P.S. I find your Grandpa insanely charming 🙂
    Please visit me whenever you can with some of your homegrown midget tomatoes; as you said that tiny plant isn’t stopping producing tomatoes!

    Lovey, enjoyable post; as always 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Nusrat. I was surprised at how mild those chiles were. I expected quite a bit more kick than they gave. Maybe these were just uncharacteristically mid? I’m afraid to add more to the next batch because I could en up with fire jam! 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post but I’m sorry the tiny plant has run out. It has stopped producing. I guess I should be happy it did so well and I’ve got some wonderful jam from it. 🙂

      Like

  47. I enjoyed reading this entire post John… the beautiful stories about your grandfather (such a character, I love it!) and the rich, glossy tomato jam. But then I got to that photo of the glossy, succulent Moorish goat… and, argh! My mind is completely consumed by it! Cannot wait for the recipe. But for now, I’m going to track me down some tomatoes to make this spiced up jam!

    Like

    • Thanks, Laura. Grandpa was a card, all right. This jam is a good one but I’ve given much of mine away. When I return from Michigan, I think I’ll make another batch and not tell anyone. 🙂

      Like

  48. I just loved reading this story John. He reminds me a lot of my grandpa and his friends. And in a way it reminds me of our neighborhood now. Fortunately the wives get to join in the fun too though. 😉 My favorite part was your grandpa and the pastor walking back and forth. How funny is that!
    Your tomato jam sounds delicious. I could think of several ways I would enjoy this – especially with all those spices in there. It would be a great flavor fest. It has me hungry again now. Mmm!

    Like

    • Sounds like you’ve got a great neighborhood, Kristy. They’re so rare these days. I pride myself in knowing my neighbors and still don’t know any of the people across the street. It’s a shame, really. There’s just no substitute for that sense of community.
      Yeah, Grandpa and the Pastor walking to-and-fro is always sure to crack Zia up. She loves that story. 🙂
      This jam is surprisingly good. I made it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. These batches are an evolution from that first attempt. Who knows what next year’s will taste like?

      Like

  49. To be honest with you, I have never tasted tomato jam. Such an intriguing concept! I guess at this point I have no choice but give it a try. 🙂
    I looooove your grandpa’s pictures. They remind me my grandparents’ pictures…

    Like

    • Thanks, Francesca. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that the photos remind you of your Grandfather. I bet you’ve got stories of him to share, too. 🙂
      I think you’ll find tomato jam surprisingly good. It goes so well with a number of cheeses, too.

      Like

  50. So you have inherited your “tomato-growng” skills and enthusiasm from your grandpa, reading about whom seemed like he is a very interesting person and someone i would have loved to meet! Well, your tomato harvest is only making me jealous, as we do not even have a blacony for growing any plant here in the densely populated city of Mumbai. But I loved these healthy-looking tomatoes. Your jam sounds great! Wonderful post, John!

    Like

    • I’m sure that Grandpa would have enjoyed meeting you, as well. He loved meeting people and talking with them. I have lived in apartments, too, Purabi, and know what it is like to go without even an herb garden. One of the reason’s I bought this building and not a flat was so that I could have a yard and a garden. I bet there’s a garden in your future, at least I hope so. 🙂

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  51. I enjoy your grandpa stories my friend. He reminds me of my dad. He is passionate about talking to people and sharing his knowledge about animals and plants. He studied livestock and agriculture in college. A shock to my grandma learning after when she taught he was studying for medicine. Surprise, surprise! Who can argue with fate , right? Another award winning recipe.

    Like

    • Thanks you, my Friend, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that it reminds your of your own Grandpa. There’s something really special about Grandparents and I feel lucky that I was able to spend so much time with him. I’m glad your Grandfather was smart enough to follow his heart. I’m sure he was much happier doing what he loved. That’s a lesson for all of us. 🙂

      Like

  52. Buono Sera John! It sounds like your local pastor learned his lesson when invited for what seemed like an innocent little B-day party with the Bartolini Family with some cake and candles and ended up stumbling back and forth.. LOL Great story about your grandfather and glad you found some photos from the archives to share with us. Tomato jam sounds delightful and I bet with your fresh tomatoes and all of the lovely spices, herbs and Thai chilis, it just has to be good. I am sure once the snow is about chest deep you will be happy to have a few jars in your pantry. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buona notte, BAM! You would have loved Grandpa, BAM. Once you mentioned that you knew how to make pasta, he would have been putty in your hands. 🙂
      This is a really good jam and I do hope I can keep a few jars until Winter. It’s going fast, I’m afraid. 🙂

      Like

    • Thank you, Maria. Glad to see you’re back. You’ve been missed. Grandpa was quite a character, all right. It was wonderful having him in my life for much of my youth. 🙂

      Like

  53. Your Grandpa’s stories are always a pleasure to read. The part I loved most was: how he watered the garden from the hammock, using a sprinkler to get those places beyond his reach” I can even visualize this scene. The other funny bit is the beer and red and white wine being whisked mysteriously from under the table. I bet in those days women were not invited for a drink and men happily drunk and wobbled home only to be lectured and grounded. That jam sounds like some special and spicy tomato sauce. It has all the ingredients I love to use so I know it must taste very nice. Thanks John for sharing another hilarious story and a great recipe. Life in Ontario is very busy and hectic, I wish I was queuing for some special honey too. Maybe I should be queuing for some maple syrup instead. Enjoy your trip and best wishes to Zia and hugs to Max.

    Like

    • Thanks, Liz, I’m glad you enjoy my Grandpa stories. He was a real character and our lives much richer because of it. Women were offered drinks but only when their husbands were present. Grandpa was too much a gentleman to have it any other way. Too bad you live so far away. I’d gladly trade you some honey for maple syrup. Maybe next year we can meet at the Sarnia-Port Huron bridge and make an exchange. 🙂

      Like

  54. Oh man tomato jam! I tried to make some with my tomatoes but I burned em. So sad. I’ve meant to try again, but I haven’t gotten around to it. It looks amazing. My mouth is watering!

    Like

    • Gosh! I hate when that happens. A perfectly good pot of sweet goodness can go from jam to burnt in seconds. I hope you can get more tomatoes to make more jam. It really is a great treat, perfect for some toast on a cold January morning. 🙂

      Like

    • Yours wasn’t the only one, I’m afraid. I just pulled the last of mine this afternoon. It was a disappointing year for me, too, though still better than last. Next year will be better. (The gardeners’ refrain.)

      Like

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