I know, I’ve been MIA for a bit. I’ve been up to my elbows in tomatoes, literally. September is looking like a pretty hectic month and I needed to make sure I got my tomato canning in. With the next three weekends booked, last Saturday seemed like my only option so I headed down to the Fort Greene Greenmarket and my favorite farm, Wilklow Orchards, to pick up 50 pounds. Where they sat, all weekend while we visited family in Jersey. Part of me hoped we’d return to find them magically transformed into chopped and sauced tomatoes, but alas, these weren’t the self canning variety. Instead, I’ve spent the past three nights canning. Coming home around 5pm, and peeling, cutting and canning until near midnight each evening.
It’s the peeling that really gets me, a step required for chopped or whole tomatoes. For marinara sauce, you can leave them unpeeled and push everything through a food mill before cooking it down to a thicker sauce. Though if you’ve ever messed around with a food mill in tomatoes, it’s not the easiest or cleanest job. I feel like I loose half my tomatoes with the skin and end up with a fraction of the yield promised. BUT this year I discovered the secret to easy sauce, higher yield and less skin problems.
The cooler weather has had me thinking about fall. Whether we want to admit it or not, August is almost a third of the way through and Labor Day is just around the corner. I like the summer, minus the July heat wave, but fall has always been my favorite season. Produce is at its peak, leaves change, and just enough chill enters the air. Too warm for a winter coat, but just perfect enough for a brightly colored scarf or light blanket. To me, fall is the perfect time for a stroll or hike in the woods, apple picking, or a long train ride to take in the foliage.
I love garlic bread. Well, I love anything garlic, so I guess that’s no surprise. Roasted garlic, garlic pesto, garlic ice cream (well, haven’t tried that one yet). But seriously, who doesn’t like garlic bread (carb dodgers do not apply). Split a loaf of French bread sandwich style and serve it open face. Warm gooey bread, spread with garlic, spices and a little cheese for extra measure. Or cut parallel slits almost all the way through the loaf, fill the pockets, bake and rip off slices as you go. How could you possible go wrong?
A few days of warmth followed by so so temperatures. April is often one of the most disappointing months for me. I understand March being wishy-washy with its temperature decisions. Spring, winter, spring, winter. It’s in transition. But April. We are now in full-fledged spring. There’s no excuse for cooler temperatures. I expect sunshine and daffodils from here on out. But yesterday seemed to miss the memo. I wanted to drown myself in warming comfort food to shield myself from the bite of “spring”. Nothing rich and hearty like a winter stew. I wanted something that spoke to the lightness of spring but soothed my winter reality. A creamy soup, warm but light, paired with a salad. Parsnip soup.
Last Wednesday was the first day of Spring. Here in Brooklyn, unless you double checked the calendar, you’d never know. I swear in the past few days it’s actually gotten colder. During a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, I saw one farmer selling buckets of tulips and it gave me hope. At least Spring has arrived somewhere! That was until I actually read the sign: “Greenhouse grown”. Not that there’s anything wrong with greenhouses, but I was kind of looking forward to finding something that actually grew in the ground.