I take things to extremes. When I get excited about something, I pursue it with my whole being. I immerse myself in it. I want to know everything about it. And then I can become a bit of a purist about things. I have to do it completely, obsessing about the details, getting everything perfect. I’m a perfectionist. I admit it. And this is something that I’ve been working on, and the move to Beaver Island has forced me to confront this in our food.
I’ve made all our family’s tomato sauce for over 10 years. I started by buying bushels of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and making sauce. Then I grew our tomatoes and made sauce, and eventually switched to all heirloom tomatoes, grown organically. That is the best sauce ever. Each batch had a couple of varieties of tomatoes, but the big batches had over 20 varieties of tomatoes, each adding it’s own flavor profile, making for the best, most complex, delicious tomato sauce.
And this year we sold that garden, and I moved in August. No tomatoes. I didn’t even bother planting heirlooms at the old farm because I knew that I wouldn’t be there to harvest them. And no tomatoes at the new farm. The soil is too acidic to grow much. We have a lot of work ahead of us to make the gardens that I know we will eventually have. But the big question, how was I going to feed our family this winter?
And then I started to explore ‘good enough.’ We have to eat. Tomatoes are a staple of our grain free diet. I use tomato sauce and lots of it. We don’t eat spaghetti, which is what most people do with tomato sauce. I make tomato soup, curries, salsas with eggs, serve sloppy joes over mashed potatoes. Tomatoes and tomato sauce are so versatile and useful. I needed canned tomatoes, sauce and paste that was acceptable. I needed to buy canned food! I hadn’t bought canned tomatoes in over 10 years. Well, maybe once or twice a can here or there, but not like this. I needed cases of canned tomatoes.
After doing some research, I figured I had to just try different brands and types and see what was acceptable. I believe that our taste buds can tell us where the nutrients are. The best tasting will be the best for us. I had also heard that the San Marzano tomatoes grown in Italy on their rich volcanic soil are excellent. One friend even claimed that they are better than any sauce he’d made from locally grown tomatoes. So I tried some. They are good. Not as good as my heirloom sauce, but pretty tasty. And I found my answer. Good enough. I bought cases of San Marzano tomatoes grown in Italy. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to make my own tomato sauce again. But the perfectionist in me had to learn a lesson, sometimes we just need good enough.