August 6, 2015

I love to use a variety of things as table decor that go far beyond flowers. One reason for this is that I find I can’t reuse flowers and if I’m going to buy something for the table, I like to turn it into something else afterwards. Over the years, I have used many different fruits, vegetables, branches, and more as centerpieces. A few holiday favorites are persimmons and pomegranates that can later be turned into a spiced persimmon cake to give as gifts or tasty pomegranate margaritas for cocktails. For a recent “Gingham Style” party that I threw with a girlfriend, we used plum tomato tin cans to hold the wild flowers that ran down the length of the table. The extra plum tomatoes became the party favor – I made one of my favorite summer spreads, a spicy ginger tomato jam, and piled this into jars for each guest to take home and enjoy later.


Tomato Chili Jam

Open a 28-ounce can of best-quality plum tomatoes and drain the liquid into a food processor or blender. Reserve the tomatoes. Roughly chop 1-2 seeded and de-stemmed jalapeños (less if you don’t want this too spicy) and add to the blender or processor with 2 large garlic cloves, chopped; a 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped; and 1/4 cup fish sauce. Blend until smooth. Dice the tomatoes and add into a pan with the blended ingredients. Add 1/2 cup rice vinegar, and 1 cup sugar. Simmer until thick and syrupy, about an hour.  When cool, transfer to containers or jars, and keep refrigerated. This lasts up to a month in the refrigerator.