Last of the tomato glut

The joys of dealing with Government civil servants: they knew that I use a screen reader but still wanted to send me documents in large print!   I’d be more empathetic to their ignorance if they weren’t under a legal responsibility to make their services accessible.   If they don’t understand the basics as part of their professional skills base, what hope is there?

But, in case you too are befuddled by some of the adaptive technology speak, here’s a little crib:

Braille: used by some visually impaired people; often those who have had limited sight since an early age; learning Braille after about age 50 is difficult due to reduced fingertip sensitivity; many Braille users may also use other forms of IT accessibility; they may “print” Braille on special printers and may have electronic Braille readers.

Large print: some may require documents in different sizes (I used to use 36-point font in Bold; many will use other IT accessibility methods; many will adjust the size of an electronic document to print the appropriate size if they need a hard copy.

Screen magnification: various features enable the text, cursors and other features displayed on the screen to be enlarged; often this means that individuals cannot see the whole screen at one time (avoid material that is on the right); they may also print in large text.

Screen readers: people like me can only access documents independently that are provided electronically and formats other than Word may be inaccessible with their particular screen reader software; pdf documents are often inaccessible; tables ditto; images and logos are inaccessible; punctuation needs to be immaculate especially at the end of headings and in lists or all the words are read as a long sentence; documents don’t need to be in any different size font; Excel spreadsheets are highly risky; form completion can be impossible.

Hope that this little taster is useful –it doesn’t attempt to cover speech recognition and more.   Accessibility of electronic information varies between different software as some is free with such as Microsoft and Apple whereas other costly software is specifically created for disabled people.

Now for something much more fun and positive: immeasurably precious after months of nurturing, the last tomatoes are ripening and I wanted to make the best of those that had split or gone a little soft.   A pasta sauce was the answer:

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped.

4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped.

2 sticks celery, peeled and finely chopped.

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped.

10 pieces dried tomato, finely chopped.

tablespoon each of thyme, rosemary and tarragon leaves, chopped.

teaspoon ground black pepper.

3 tablespoons olive oil.

750-1000g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped.

large pinch of salt.

tablespoon basil leaves, torn.

 

Sauté the onion, carrots, celery and herbs in the oil over a gentle heat for about an hour.

Add the tomatoes and salt and continue to gently cook,

Add the basil and any other fresh herbs to hand and continue to cook for about 30 minutes.

Serve with cooked pasta, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped black olives or the garnish of your choice.

My Tips:

The key to this sauce is the slow cooking.   I used a heat diffuser over the lowest gas flame possible and let it splutter away for at least two hours.   With the lid on, the vegetables reduced to about a quarter of their size before the tomatoes were added.   It took no effort after the initial chopping other than to stir occasionally and check nothing was sticking.

Delicious, robust and full of fresh goodness that celebrates tomatoes.

 

The next on-line cooking demo is at 1030 on 11 October.  Please do join in.  The links are:

Eventbrite link:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/winter-warmer-baking-session-with-penny-for-visually-impaired-people-tickets-171094306677

Facebook Link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1073961713195536

 

 

 

 

Two for one

Even in these times of restrictions, life can be hectic so one cooking session that provides at least two different meals can be a boon.

Here it has been rather a mad house of activity.  Enough mix for sixteen Christmas puddings was lovingly tied up with string for steaming in the individual bowls.  Long-term builder Rodney and his lads, Wayne and Andrew, were all over the garden for a week installing a magnificent new fence.   I reckon that the trellis topping will provide over 130 square feet of luxuriant sun-bathed growing space for productive climbers  (kiwi, blackberries, grape vine) plus annual climbing vegetables (sugar snaps, beans and more) plus some evergreen fragrant plants too.  The noise was pretty dreadful for the neighbours as they dug holes for new posts, chopped down neglected scrub outside the boundary and groaned to instal the heavy panels.  No peace for the neighbours as the security team tested the alarm system for what seemed hours.  Thankfully the plumber/heating engineer was distinctly more peaceful as he worked his special magic with a couple of leaks.

Most of these tradesmen have been here on and off for nearly 20 years.  It makes such a difference, when you can’t see to check the work, to have people whom you can trust entirely and who have become friends.  Although they still send the bills …

A quick cooking session was the solution with so much going on – perhaps an hour in the kitchen and at least two meals ready for later.

3 pieces of fresh rosemary

Good handful of fresh thyme

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped.

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

6 red peppers, de-seeded and cut in half top to bottom

2 handfuls of pitted black olives, cut in half

1 tin of tomatoes

6 fresh tomatoes, chopped

Salt and black pepper.

250g sausage meat, divided and rolled into marble size.

Remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme and chop finely.

Sauté the onions and half of the the garlic in the olive oil in a large ovenproof pan.

Add 4 halves of pepper, chopped, plus half the olives and herbs plus the tin of tomatoes to the pan – season and bring to a gentle simmer.

Mix the remaining herbs, garlic, olives with the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and season well.

Place 3 or 4 marbles of sausage meat in each of the remaining pepper halves and top with the tomato/herb/garlic/olive mix.

Add the remaining meat marbles to the pan.

Place the filled pepper halves in the pan and cover with a lid or foil.

Place in the oven at Gas 4 for an hour and then reduce to Gas 2 until the peppers are soft  (an hour or more).

Remove the stuffed peppers for one meal (they reheat perfectly in the microwave on a medium setting).

Use the sauce left in the pan to make another meal with pasta.  I prefer shells which capture the pieces of vegetable or meat.