Monday, April 4, 2011


Before I get to all things TOM-AH-TOE, I need to share big news with you......after months and months of hemming and hawing and driving Big Daddy craaaaazzzzzzy, I made a decision. Which is hard for me to do at times. I ended my 3 year run as the Food columnist in our local paper. Every single week for 3 years (well, except for a few vacations sprinkled in) I've faithfully met deadlines and have SO enjoyed testing out new recipes and reading e-mails and letters from faithful subscribers. BUT, all good things must come to an end, and I've got some major health hurdles ahead of me soon, so the timing is good. But still, I'm a little sad about this right now, as I adore my editor and the rest of the staff at the newspaper office. Only one thing will help, and that will be to continue bringing them all of the sweets I concoct for this here blog, regularly! Heck, better in their bellies than in mine, right?

Speaking of health.....had a big pow-wow with my rheumatologist today, and she's decided to bring in the big guns, medicine-wise. See, the Prednisone I take for my Lupus/Sjogren's Syndrome flare ups is nasty stuff; I really shouldn't be taking it anymore, unless I want severe osteoporosis/diabetes/weight gain and other delightful side effects. So, we're moving on to a drug that scares the pants off of me (and a lot of other people, to be sure), an immuno-suppressant that is actually a low dose chemotherapy. Yikes. Soooo, if I'm a little late on my blog posts from time to time, please know that it's probably because I'm in my bathroom puking, or maybe trying to comb-over the bald spots on my already thinning hair! And really, because this is how whacked my priorities are, do you know what I'm the most bummed out about? Not drinking my beloved wine while cooking dinner! Waaahhhh!

Now, onto more pleasant subjects, like gorgeous and plump, nutritious and delicious tomatoes:

Oh tomatoes, how I do covet thee! When we lived in the midwest, we had a large and sunny backyard, and so we had a big, fat vegetable garden. Each summer, I planted over 10 varieties of heirloom tomatoes--red ones, yellow ones, even fried up the green ones! Here, I have to resort to buying them at our local grocery stores this time of year (and our fabulous Farmer's Market in the summertime), usually hot-house tomatoes are what's available.

Have you ever roasted your tomatoes? Oh my goodness, what a fabulous way to cook them; they roast beautifully with a little olive oil and salt and pepper drizzled over them. This Roasted Tomato and Onion Soup is very easy to make, and the soup is just terrific served with maybe some homemade croutons or, my personal fave, a grilled cheese sandwich. To begin, place your washed and halved tomatoes, along with chopped yellow onions, on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, dried thyme and salt and pepper;toss to coat:

Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until they are very tender and look like this:

Place the roasted tomatoes and onions, PLUS any juices, into a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in brown sugar and cloves. Using an immersion blender (if you don't have one, you can ladle the tomato mixture into a blender, but really, why don't you have an immersion blender yet? They're SO inexpensive and are truly an amazing kitchen tool to have on hand) blend until smooth:

In a saucepan, melt butter, then add flour and stir until blended. Add chicken broth and stir until thickened. Add to tomato/onion mixture and simmer:

Cool slightly, then add half and half. Heat through gently and serve warm. Garnish wish fresh parsley and/or croutons, if desired. And suppah is SERVED!:

Here's the recipe:

Serves 4

10-12 medium tomatoes, halved
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3 tblsp. butter
3 tblsp. flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
Fresh chopped parsley and croutons, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place halved tomatoes and chopped onion on a rimmed, foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until very tender, stirring once. Put tomatoes and onions, plus any juices, into a large pot or Dutch oven. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cloves. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. In a saucepan, melt butter; add flour and stir over medium heat until blended. Add chicken broth and stir until thickened over medium/high heat. Add to tomato/onion mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly before adding half and half. Heat through gently and serve warm. Top with fresh parsley and/or croutons, if desired.

Today I'm thankful for:

* This wonderful and warm rain we're experiencing--because after all, April showers bring on May flowers!

*My daughter finding a beautiful apartment for next semester with 4 of her best girlfriends. She can finally cook a real meal, and never complain about dorm food again!

*I am so thankful for good insurance. 'Nuff said!



  1. YAY for YOU listening to that dear sweet heart of your! It's sad leaving a job but windows and doors are wideee open for amazinggg new breezes to flow through!!...are we sisters or what?!!
    OK on to more serious. Have you tried to be gluten free...I knowww harsh words for such a fantastic foodie! BUT my friend has had quite bad Lupus for years and has had fabulous results with giving up gluten. I did 6 months ago and it really hasn't been too hard. Sooo many things got better when I did!
    Just a thought filled with lotsss of LOVE! xoxoxo

  2. You have an amazing spirit Leslie! It's that spirit that will take you to new places with new opportunities. Your talent will always shine and we will be here cheering you on!
    Do I see a cookbook in your future? (-:
    Taking care of yourself comes first...wishing you a happy healthy road ahead. Sending love your way...

  3. Oh, thanks, you two--you're making me cry! And Cindy, you are so right about the gluten free thing--I've pretty much gone gluten free in the mornings--switched up my cereal for eggs or oatmeal, and it makes a huge difference with my stomach issues. Not ready to go full-on yet, but maybe someday soon!

  4. Leslie, just had to tell you that Carol's chicken caccciatore ROCKS!!!! Tell your mom it is a winning recipe that I will be using the rest of my life. Really!

    Take good care of yourself.

  5. Thanks, Debbie! I passed the message onto my mom--her cooking rocks!

  6. Les,
    Don't know how I managed to miss this blog!

    Major lover of all things tomato. I haven't even had the chance to plant any tomatoes here yet, however. I am about a month late! This new puppy of our is a definite challenge, but nothing like what you are going through, for sure!

    I look forward to your informational updates and wish you a wonderful summer with your Abbie, and that your chemo ends up being a good "mix", so that you are well on your way to great health very soon, Sis.

    Love, Debra