Sow There! Too much of a good thing — tomato hoarding, Sept. 13, 2019

Great-grandma’s cookie jar was the perfect keepsake for holding this year’s stash of dried tomatoes. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)
September 13, 2019

Any visitor to my small house can quickly assess that I have trouble with clutter. I’m lucky enough to have lived half a century and each of my collected treasures is important: Books, rocks, seldom-played board games and enough furniture to fill a much larger house. Yet, when you add them all together, you get a busy mess.

My grandmother traveled extensively. Could I get rid of her trinket from India – an inlaid mother-of-pearl image of the Taj Mahal? Could I part with my music box from childhood? A jar of ocean-smoothed glass from multiple visits to Fort Bragg? Have you been to glass beach lately? Tourists, like me, have picked it almost bare.

Did I mention my house is small? And yet, I still have the customary collection of “things” we keep in hidden proximity, such as Christmas ornaments, sentimental brick-a-brack and bad poetry from my teen years.

One night I came across the Netflix show “Tidying Up,” ( with Marie Kondo. I must admit, I resented this woman from the start. She’s so sweet as she walks around other people’s homes, kindly pointing out how simple life would be if one would wear the same pink cardigan sweater four days a week, thus making room under the bed for neatly-arranged shoes.

At my house, I bought plastic risers to hoist my bed up 6 inches. This is where I store my winter wardrobe in plastic bins.

Sweet Marie goes into a solemn place as she suggests holding an item in your hands. If the miscellaneous belonging does not bring you joy, give it away, she urges. Maybe it will bring someone else joy. I’m guessing Marie tossed out all sense of sentimentality when she made her first million.

How many racks of dried tomatoes is too much? Apparently 15 is not too many. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)

I’m easily pleased. Most things, especially my things, bring me joy.

Another helpful source recommends cleaning one section of a room at a time. You can’t stop cleaning until you have decided to give away at least five items. Paperclips and old copies of Via magazine don’t count.

I’ve tried this as well. The problem is, once I decide to toss five things, I stop cleaning.

Tomato hoarder

For several weeks now, I’ve been bragging about my amazing season of cherry tomatoes. I’ll credit my third-graders from last year, who undoubtedly planted those tomato seeds with love. So far, I’ve harvested enough cherry tomatoes to fill my food dehydrator (with five trays), three times. Children? What is 5 x 3? Yes, that’s 15 trays of dried tomatoes.

Of course, I’ve found it in my heart to be generous. I’ve decided a little jar of home-dried tomatoes is the best hostess gift. (This is indeed a hint that I would love to be invited to more end-of-the-summer barbecues). My largess has extended to my close family members, who may or may not appreciate the amazing goodness that dried cherry tomatoes can be.

I eat them like candy, one after another, from the jar.

Here are more ideas from the University of California Master Food Preservers of Orange County: (

  • Add to deviled egg filling
  • With scrambled eggs
  • Garnish for any meal
  • In batter of biscuits, cornbread or any other grain dough
  • Puree the dried fruit and store as a powder, then mix with water when you need tomato paste. Sprinkle the dried goodness on tasteless tomatoes purchased in winter.
  • I wonder how this would taste on popcorn!
  • Tomato pesto. The recipe is basically the same as green pesto, but leave out the basil and add tomatoes.

All this, and you can see why I have come to become a tomato hoarder. With so many dried tomatoes on hand, I am really glad I did not give away great-grandmother’s cookie jar. When I found it in the back of the cupboard, it was the perfect vessel for this year’s ruby red, dried crop.

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