Back to the Core through Traditions – Tomatoes


Hello everyone! It has been a super long time since I’ve posted anything to the blog…not since May in fact. It was a sad time. My friend had just experienced a couple of losses in her family and I felt her sadness keenly. But just when I was coming to the end of that tunnel, we had a scare. Brian had a stroke. Three days in the hospital, followed by prescriptions and physical therapy. It was the first of June. I shall tell the rest of my story while sprinkling in photos of our tomato canning experience over the Labor Day weekend.


We always take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend to can tomatoes and we always get them from Dagdagan Farms in Yakima, WA. We bought a total of 150 pounds of roma tomatoes.

He is doing quite well now. He is actually in better shape than he was before the stroke. We both took the episode as a warning sign and as a result he is making an effort to walk twice a day and ride his bicycle daily. However, about three weeks after his incident, I wound up with shingles.


I taught Brian how to can during our first year of marriage in 1980 and he has been obsessed with it ever since. I’ve created a monster! We do whole canned tomatoes and roasted tomato sauce. There’s usually a few tomatoes left over to make some salsa.

The doctor figured it was brought on by the stress of dealing with Brian’s medical emergency. Perhaps…all I know is that it was a debilitating experience. After that, another issue cropped up. After a little weekend getaway trip to Northern California, I came back home with a serious ringing in my ears. A couple weeks later I began to develop dizzy spells…like the whole room spinning. It got so bad one day that I actually threw up! That’s when I decided it was time to see a doctor.


Tomatoes getting a bath

She couldn’t find anything wrong in my ear but prescribed a steroid in case there was some swelling in the inner ear and sent me home. The medications did not help and it would take a few more weeks before our insurance would finally approve my seeing a specialist.


Tomatoes briefly dunked in hot simmering water

My last dizzy spell was last Tuesday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t return. I had a hearing test on Friday, which confirmed my right ear has a slightly diminished capacity for hearing when compared to the left ear.


Tomatoes in the ice bath

I have the long-awaited appointment with the specialist today. We will go over the hearing test results, go over all my symptoms again, receive an exam and God knows what else to determine whether or not I have an inner ear infection.


Ah, now the skins peel right off. Easy peasy!

Given the length of time and that the dizziness seems to have subsided, I suspect that I probably did have an infection and that by now is healing up on its own. I was inclined to cancel the appointment but Brian said no!


And so what does all of this have to do with canning tomatoes?


Whole Roma tomatoes canned with a few basil leaves.

Well, nothing really…Except, after such a long time passed without my posting to my blog, I had come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m done with blogging. After all, I had been arguing with myself over this blog thing for some time. But then


Bath canning the quarts of tomatoes for 20 minutes.

Brian wanted to to the canning that we always do over the Labor Day weekend every year.


Lunch break!


Ta-da! We would up with 32 quarts of whole tomatoes.

I had never photographed our canning tradition and decided this was the year.


We also made our Roasted Tomato Sauce. Yielded 26 quarts of this.

After the weekend was over and I was looking over my images, I had an overwhelming desire to share them. And so, this tomato canning tradition has brought us both back to the core of who we are, what we do, and what we’re passionate about. Perhaps that is the real purpose behind traditions…bringing us back to our core, helping us to remember who we are, however humble. Perhaps that is worthy of a blog post after all.


Here’s our recipe for the Roasted Tomato Sauce, which makes about 5 quarts:

15 cloves of garlic

8 lbs of ripe tomatoes, any variety

10 medium onions, quartered

1 cup fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, Italian flat parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and/or chives will all work)

ΒΌ C olive oil

Β½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper

3-4 T sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop 5 cloves of garlic. Leave the remaining cloves whole. In a large roasting pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, whole and chopped garlic, onions, herbs, oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Roast for 25 min. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes. Stir again. Roast another 45 min. or until tomatoes are softened and broken down in a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.
  3. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning. If slightly bitter, add sugar and stir. Puree in a blender. Pour sauce into clean, sterile jars or freezer bags and refrigerate, can, or freeze.

PS – Since I’ve decided to keep blogging I will be doing a bit of a makeover. I’ve started by putting up a new header. What do you think? Not sure when the ‘new’ site will be finished, but in the meantime, I shall endeavor to show up and be counted here a little more often!

Cheers everyone!

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About Carol

Thank you in advance for respecting my art. All the images and text posted to this blog are owned my me and protected by copyright law. Copying any of the content here without permission is against the law and you know, not cool. Many thanks again.
This entry was posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Back to the Core through Traditions – Tomatoes

  1. Kate says:

    Carol, I for one have missed your posts! Thanks for sharing your story and your photos. I hope that you find resolution to your ear problems and that both Brain and you continue many more years of sharing and traditions.

  2. LeΓ³n says:

    Carol, I’m so glad you decided to come back. I have missed you here. Of course, I do see your beautiful photos on Facebook and Instagram, but it’s not the same as “hearing” your voice through your stories here on your blog. You have been through such a lot in the past few months. I’m so glad Brian is doing well, and I hope your dizziness problem has resolved itself. Thinking of you and wishing you both bountiful good health!

  3. Michelle says:

    Glad to see you posting. Sorry to hear about the health issues. I enjoyed the pictures and the canning process. Nice header.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Shingles is horrible . . . And yes it can definitely be brought on by stress. So enjoyed hearing your voice again through your blog. You are a wonderful storyteller and have an amazing way of chronicling the everyday bits of life. Glad you are on the mend. Look forward to more if your stories with amazing photos. Thanks heaps for the recipe. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ’žπŸ’ž

  5. Sarah says:

    I am so happy that you are back to blogging and sharing your stories as well as your images. And I am so glad to hear that you are both on the mend. I think it has been a rough summer for many of us.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Sarah, Thanks so much for stopping by. It seems this summer has been particularly challenging for many of us. So many of my friends have either lost a loved one, or they or someone they know are struggling with illness. I pray that we all find ourselves in good health very very soon! Cheers my friend.

  6. Nancy says:

    I love traditions and so glad you shared one that you and Brian have enjoyed for a long time…Your photos are beautiful…

    So glad Brian is better and hopefully you will be back to you old self soon…You’ve had a hard summer…My husband has shingles right now and even though he has a light case he’s still been in a lot of pain….

    • Carol says:

      Oh Nancy, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband battling shingles. It is a painful experience. Hope he is on the mend very soon. Thanks so much for your kind words. Take care…both of you!

  7. Dorry says:

    Carol, I loved the photos because my son just tried canning for the first time a few weeks back. He did peaches. Your (should I say Brian’s?) tomatoes sure looked good. But I am so sorry to read about the health challenges. I’m wondering about menieres? Hope you get some answers soon. I am a big blogging fan – you can use both words and photos and it becomes a much more complete way to tell your story. I loved this story from you.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Dorry! Thanks so much for stopping by. Both Brian & I are on the mend…thank goodness! Your kind words touch my heart. Have a great Autumn!

  8. kelly says:

    carol i loved following along with your canning process. i’m happy to hear that it brought some well deserved peace and clarity. hoping the rest of the year brings you a wonderful harvest of goodness.

  9. Aina says:

    So creative and interesting. You are such a great food photographer and blogger

    • Carol says:

      Thanks so much Aina for stopping by and taking the time to leave some love! Cheers!

      • Aina says:

        I read this blogpost again today, really read it just because i wanted to see the process, just want to say good luck to both of you. Hope you will continue blogging. I am a big fan

  10. Ann Davis says:

    Your photos and blogging is amazing.
    But your health and what feels right is what important. You and Brian seem to know what that path is. Shingles is a difficult journey to
    Go through, I experienced it last January right after we finished dealing with a illness with David. Take care my friend. I love your art whether it is blogging or Instagram or FB. Ann

    • Carol says:

      Thanks so much Ann. It does impact your life in a big way when someone you love falls ill. Hope David is doing better and that both his and your health are good. Have a great Autumn!

  11. Viv Halliwell says:

    Love love your new look and your wonderful images documenting your canning.

  12. Beverly says:

    Carol, it was so good to see your blog in with my emails. Thank you. How many times when I would see you on Instagram, I would wonder how both were doing and now I know and so glad both of you are doing better and hanging in there. It’s not the bad things that happen to us but how we handle these things we just wish would go away. And from seeing and reading your story, I would say you both are blessed to have each other. And we are blessed that you are telling your story and in the very best possible way. It’s like reading a good book but not fiction. Glad you are back and well.

  13. Carolyn says:

    I’m so sorry you have had such a rough year. Glad to know Brian is better and I hope and pray your dizzy spells will not return! Love the tradition of canning tomatoes. This has inspired me to can some next week as a gift to my mom for Christmas.

  14. Joy Gerow says:

    Dearest Carol,
    The new look to your blog is quite comforting and of course canning is a comfort activity which brings one down to earth. Your recipe sounds very tasty indeed.
    I am so sorry to hear of your health issues but stay positive and grounded and this too shall pass. Definitely make sure you keep any doctor appointments you’ve waited so long for …
    I feel for you on all levels as I have experienced Shingles and the ear thing … sounds like Vertigo or close to it, both of which can be brought on by severe stress. You’ve had that. The Shingles themselves are enough to send anyone over the edge.
    The sensitivity in the region will last for quite some time after kind of like a severe rope burn sensation at the slightest touch so be aware.
    I have also experienced all that occurs, as the wife, of husband who’s had a stroke amongst other things. It does my heart good to see your Brian and you managing the canning … this is good therapy for both of you. Your photography will be your savior, I truly mean that. The sharing and nourishment you receive from the act of documenting again will get you through anything that is thrown at you.
    To be honest, when you posted originally about Brian having the stroke, my heart sank but I knew what you were in for but you’d come through this … and I totally meant to contact you to let you know you’re not alone.
    As the spouse/caregiver, It doesn’t take much to consume us to the point where we don’t have the energy to do things like ‘shoot or post’ because we’re so busy trying to take care, listen to doctors, make sense of the emotional changes that occur in a person who’s had a stroke along with all the other upheavals an illness brings.
    However, … there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it sounds to me that you and your Brian have entered the flip side of your journey this year with the proper education from it. Believe me, everything will move forward now in a more knowledgeable and grateful fashion because you’ve survived. Use what you have learned to live your days.
    Keep envisioning good things and being healthy into the future and it will be so. We are our thoughts.
    Funny, I missed you without knowing I did until you popped up in my inbox.
    Be well, soak up the moments, breathe your words and share like you do so well … it’s therapy and you need it and you know as well as I that when you share, the support you receive back is good medicine.
    You guys are going to be okay … this coming from a woman who has seen it all, felt it all and knows that it is your own love and determination to see things through that will be what gets you through it. Mine is a very long story … one I have been meaning to blog about for years and haven’t. It started before blogging was a thing but my camera got me through most of it. Maybe now I’ll get off my hiney and take some of my own advice.
    Your photos are wonderful as always showing the perfect moments, exposing the human side of life that is the answer, by way of soul nourishing.

    Have the most awesome week and don’t let anything bring you down, you are a beautiful soul. I’m willing to bet this sharing was what you needed. Good luck with the doctor.
    I sincerely hope each day brings renewed health and wellbeing. Say it will and it will be so.

    Love and hugs from about 125 miles north of you,

    Best regards,

    • Carol says:

      Oh Joy, you have touched my heart with your kind words and sharing a bit of your own story. Thank you. Keeping our eye on the good things that already exist in our life is what we are focused on around here. Bless you my friend, xo

  15. Glad you are continuing. You never know whose heart you will touch. Me. I have had tomatoes sitting on my counter for days. Today you showed up and I know just what to do with the tomatoes. love to you.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Sally, thanks so much for your encouragement. Hope you like the roasted sauce if you end up going that route. Having tomatoes on hand is never a bad thing!

  16. Jana says:

    So glad to see your posts once more, I had really missed them. I so understand the impetus to do things differently or to leave aside traditions and patterns, and sometimes that is the right thing to do, but you are so right about being who we are and getting to the core of ourselves. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, you sing be cause you have a song and just because some of the verses are painful or sad or speak of challenges and fears, they are still your song and it is so lovely to see them woven into the everyday sacred that is your life and who you are.- JBV

  17. Marilyn Gallas says:

    Carol, I’m so sad that you have had to go through all this. I hope all is well now. I truly love your blog posts. Your new header is beautiful – simple and clean. I have let my blog slowly die and just can’t seem to get excited about it any more. Hopefully, you will continue on with yours. I, and I’m sure many others, love your images and you do tell a great story in words!

    • Carol says:

      Hi Marilyn, thanks so very much for taking the time to stop by. Appreciate the feedback on the header. Hopefully the rest of the site will look a little cleaner too once the update is done. Cheers!

  18. Mary Underwood says:

    So glad you are back ! What a time you’ve have had. I hope you and Brian continue to heal and that the rest of the year is all that you want it to be.
    Thank you for the recipe, YUM.
    U like the new banner, Mary

  19. Sherry G. says:

    This is such a wonderful healing post, Carol. You have shared a beautiful process — preserving fresh produce and meeting challenges with grace and strength. I love all your images, most especially the tomatoes in the ice bath. Thank you for your inspiration, oh yes, and the recipe!

  20. Carol,

    I’m sorry to hear about your recent health problems, but was happy to find a post with your beautiful photography in my inbox again. It sounds like your doctor never mentioned the possibility that the vertigo may have been a manifestation of celiac disease/gluten sensitivity. Doctors still have a lot to learn about the myriad ways in which gluten affects the body. Here is just one article on the connection between gluten and dizziness:

  21. Dotti says:

    Oh, dear, Carol! I knew about Brian but had no idea your health woes had been multiplied. Sending great big healing hugs and hope that you’re right – the ear infection is a thing of the past.

  22. Late to the party, for whatever reason it only showed up in my Feedly this morning. Whats up with that? Love that first shot and yes traditions are always so sweet in this life. So happy you are feeling better now you and Brain stay that way. πŸ™‚

  23. What an inspiration you are!!!

  24. Jill Ruskamp says:

    Good to see you back here. So much going on for you two! I hope it’s smooth sailing for awhile now. I had appt too for tinitis and a little dizziness and basically I have to live with it. However the dizziness is long gone and I hope it doesn’t come back. The ringing…seems to be getting worse. πŸ™ But, there are worse things for sure.
    Thanks for the recipe! I thought at first, shoot I needed this weeks ago as are tomatoes have been done for weeks but then I remembered I froze a bunch because I didn’t have time to can them. So Monday I think I’ll make this sauce. Your pictures of course are spot on gorgeous!

  25. Karen Olson says:

    Carol, I must say I always love reading your blog, for as long as you decide to do it, I will enjoy it. It can be really had when hubby has health issue, I can certainly relate. Interesting to note also, there has been an increase in inner ear infections and vertigo as of late, several of my friends have had it recently. I find it kind of odd. But it does seem to be something that heals eventually.
    Take good care my friend.

  26. Christine says:

    New to your site…roasted tomato sauce looks divine! Thanks for sharing…please keep blogging!

  27. Petra says:

    Carol, I’m sorry to hear about all the health issues you had to go through, it must have been tough experience. I’m pleased to hear that you opted for blogging, I need to come here more often. I always love to read your posts on Kim Klassen’s blog. Your new header is nice… and the tomato canning is a lovely tradition, your photos have documented it beautifully. Thank you for sharing! I’m going to try and prepare that roasted tomato sauce, it sounds good. We use a different metric system here but I figured out that C = cup, T = tablespoon, and degrees = degrees of Fahrenheit, am I right? And you don’t peel the tomatoes to be roasted, do you? Have a nice day!

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