Thursday, 16 September 2010

A Declaration of Affection: My History With Tomatoes

There aren’t many things in this world as beautiful in their simplicity as a plump and fresh, homegrown tomato. I remember being a young’un, my parents fretting that my premature acne was due to the acid I was consuming via tomatoes. I must have been eating a lot of them. I still eat a lot of them. I still have the odd outbreak of acne. (I don’t really think tomatoes are the culprit). I am letting them off the hook.

Tomatoes have a fair claim to being one of my favorite foods. Lucky them! Let us be grateful to tomatoes for their versatility and their privileged position in the fruit vs. vegetable debate. Isn’t it nice to be fought over? Caprese salad, warm pasta bolognese, fiery arrabiata, the list marches on, just as tomatoes seem to in the months they bless us with their presence. It is sad the season must end, as it is about to. At least they are happy to be frozen in sauces and soups for winter.

Tomatoes and me? Our history is far reaching. Obviously the reference to acne is probably the beginning, and soon came Newman's Own spaghetti sauce, and then I remember having thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes, by themselves. Those slices grew tired of being solo and soon asked to be sprinkled with salt and black pepper and sandwiched between slices of Merita white bread, sealed with a very generous portion of the best mayonnaise in the whole wide world! (Oh Britain you are missing out when it comes to Duke’s). It wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of culinary creativity but what utter pleasure!

As I grew, so did my taste buds and I soon discovered the splendor of freshly made salsa. It must have been the joy at receiving a basket of warm and glistening tortilla chips at the Mexican restaurant in Concord, North Carolina. The one across from Applebee’s and beside Harris Teeter. Is it still there? If not, rest assured the memory is. The accompanying salsa was blended, a smooth cooperative of its integral parts. From smooth salsa beginnings I now tend to prefer it chunky. I like to see what things are made of.

I later made the jump from larger than life, fleshy tomatoes to cherry, roma and their plentiful cousins - petite nuggets of flavor gold. Small things sure can pack a punch!

And here I am, tonight, trying to make sense of the large numbers of tomatoes that have arrived from my Father-in-Law Bill's allotment (the quarters of his gardening mojo). I decide to take a hint from a simple pizza sauce recipe. I skin medium-sized bowl of tomatoes in hot water and chop some garlic to fry. After a few minutes I add the tomatoes to the softened garlic and let it simmer for a little while then add some fresh basil, a little salt to taste and a little extra water if necessary. To such an undemanding recipe I would toss in one more portion of goodness - some grated hard Italian cheese, like parmesan or pecorino. (And giving credit to the Mexican restaurant I like this one smooth and blended).

Your heart will be warmed, I promise.


xxx Laura xxx

Thursday, 9 September 2010

We Needn't Be Anything but Together

Time together falls through our fingers, but always leaves us something to hold. We take our bodies from the routine, from the actions we're told to do, and do what we want with the ones we love the most. We sleep in or wake early, and wake not to a rush, but to one another and the chance to catch the crisp of summer morning. We meet the cusp of Autumn when the sun's gone and citronella illuminates the laughter of good and old friends-- a sound not heard enough.

I'm always overcome with inspiration when Laura comes or I go to her. The cinnamon red of a sunset walk, the drizzling rain at Daddy's wood shop, the holding and comparing of hands-- who's got whose? The past ten days have once again proved rejuvenation with the changing backdrop of the Outer Banks to the Yadkin Valley to our very own dogwoods and pines. While we grow and are growing into our adult selves, we irresistibly enter our bubble built with giggles and silly voices. The best parts of us never grow old (we are learning).

So shall we let the homemade pizzas, Sanderling sightings, Italian grapevines, washcloth lessons, Swan Creek cartwheels, chicken stew, and Blueberry Yum-yum sink into our toes as we take our post vacation steps.

And to satisfy your viewing pleasure:

Sunset at Atlantic Beach

Sipping Vermentino, resting our eyes on the Brushy Mountains

Enjoying the chicken stew in Swan Creek

A cute couple of pizza makers!

A circle of good and old friends.