So, Friday we headed up at 2-ish and made it to camp near Manresa State Beach by 4 (after a stop for groceries). We had the tent up, the fire built and dinner together by 5:30. Honestly, I can build a temporary shelter (okay, take it out of the bag and put the poles into it and the tarp under it), fire without chemical starter and food from scratch in 90 minutes while on the road, but I can't drag my ass in the house, change out of work clothes and make a meal in under 2 hours at home. Pathetic.
Saturday we got up early and headed out to Mariquita Farms for a tomato u-pick. The four of us split up into two groups. The Pirate and Peaches took the Early Girl patch and spent just about half an hour getting about 35 pounds of uniform, firm Early Girl tomatoes. The Baby Goddess and I went over to the other patch where there were a couple of varieties of beefsteaks - little ones that were a deep, almost purply red; big giant lumpy, knobbly ones shaped like something a doctor removed from your grandfather; medium-sized ones that were shaped like upside-down pears. Altogether, we picked and brought back about 80 pounds of tomatoes (or just over a bushel and a half).
Once we got home, the Pirate and I shifted into high gear and did what we do best: speed process vast quantities of food into a storable form. Station 1: cleaning and scalding. Station 2: coring and peeling. Station 3: packing. Station 4: processing. With 2 people, you have one person doing jobs 1 and 4, and trading off job 3. The second person does 2 and sometimes 3. The longest part is the hour and a half the tomatoes have to process in the water bath, but it's totally worth it.
We now have 39 quarts of home-canned tomatoes (a quart shy of 10 gallons) to last us through the winter. I totally felt like the industrious ant, laying up provisions for the winter.
SOOOOOOOO, if any of you are at all interested in doing the next tomato u-pick on September 16th, we're definitely going to be going again. Just for reference, the 80 pounds of tomatoes we picked took 3 people (and one 6-year-old, who counts against us) about 35 minutes of actual picking time. We're going to pick early, then come back home and can tomatoes like nobody's biz. We'd be happy for company, happy to teach people how to can tomatoes, happy to let people make use of our equipment. If you're interested, let us know and we can figure out how to hook up, etc.