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Not Putting Up With It

August 23, 2010

It’s summer’s bounty.  And this is the time that people are doing all kinds of great things with it.  They are canning, freezing, pickling, and all other methods of preserving.  They are trying to take some of the summer sunshine and put it away for the long cold winter to come, so they can pull it out when they need it most.

But not me.

Me?  I’m going through orgiastic feasts of summer produce.  I’m stretching the limits of what is humanly possible.  My family went through more tomatoes this week than I could have ever imagined, and loved every minute of it.

Well, almost every minute of it.

There was one misstep with a tomato-based cocktail that does not need to be repeated.  Maybe this goes without saying, but I learned the hard way that a tomato-based cocktail should be stirred and not shaken.

Despite that setback, I made yet another jumbo panzanella salad with obscene quantities of juicy tomatoes and plenty of dried-out bread to ensure not a single drop of precious tomato juice was wasted.  Somehow my B.L.T. failed to materialize this week, but I’m hopeful there will be more tomatoes to come on Tuesday.

I continue to tear through corn on the cob, satisfied with that alone as a delicious simple supper.  Just warmed with a one-minute soak in boiling water and slathered with butter and salt.

The green bell peppers are what do me in.

When confronted with these capsicums my thoughts turn to fall and winter.  I think of the sacred trinity of Cajun cuisine – bell pepper, celery and onions.  And that makes me want to cook a big steaming pot of red beans for red beans and rice.  I also think of the assertive green pepper flavor in a cauldron of Cuban black beans.

Both of which I’ve made in the cooler days and nights of the past week.  And each of which has made its way into my newly defrosted chest freezer.  Honestly, I do not think of this as putting up food for the winter.  But as I am writing, the impulse seems oddly similar.

Perhaps if I’m lucky enough to get another bunch of basil, I’ll put up a batch of pesto in the freezer.  The secret is to omit the cheese (and the butter) before freezing, and to add them once the sauce has been defrosted.  I admit, it is nice to have a brief reminder of summer’s life during the doldrums of winter.

But I love winter food.

I’m looking forward to making long-simmered stews with winter storage vegetables like carrots, potatoes and onions.  Last year I failed to make a batch of true Bolognese, simmered in milk and then in wine, with just the faintest trace of tomato.  This year I hope to not make the same mistake.

Of course, before winter comes fall, with its apples (and apple cider donuts), pears and squashes.

So in these fast fading days of summer I’m going to spend my energy eating all I can.  Getting the last vestiges of the season.  Enjoying them thoroughly.  And knowing that when they are gone, there will be other tasty treats right around the corner.  Sure, I’ll have to be patient until I get another juicy tomato, but the wait will just make it all that much better.

Young Master Fussy is pretty good about living in the moment.  But I know he is looking forward to next year’s peas.  But he’s also been looking forward to hot cocoa with marshmallows since the spring thaw.

That boy knows what is good.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jean Patiky permalink
    August 23, 2010 11:29 am

    I LOVED this post. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Boy..can that guy write!!!

  2. Ellen Whitby permalink
    August 24, 2010 12:39 am

    Here’s an idea for your extra tomatoes. Cut them in half and put them in a roasting pan, cut side up. The pan should be just big enough for what you have so they’re crowded together. Drizzle olive oil and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.) as well as salt and pepper to taste and put them in the oven at its lowest temperature overnight. In the morning, your tomatoes will be wonderfully roasted and your kitchen will smell gorgeous. This is also a good way to use the fresh rosemary (and in my case, oregano) from your garden.

    As for basil, when your CSA falls short, I’d be happy to share.

  3. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    August 24, 2010 10:20 am

    Whole tomatoes can be thrown into the freezer as is in a plastic bag. When you thaw them, they slip right out of the skin and are ready for addition to any recipe requiring canned tomatoes. Also, for decades, I have frozen my pesto with cheese and olive oil included: contrary to popular opinion, there is no loss in quality (except for a tiny loss of total freshness), and it’s obviously way easier.

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