It's been weeks since we ran outside for that last blaze of sun. On a day more summery than any in July. When it feels like all of nature is awash in autumn candlelight. We sat mesmerized in canvas lounge chairs under the liquid amber trees, trying to hang on to what we knew was a fleeting moment. Balancing BLT lunch plates up under our chins to catch the inevitable dripping ooze of dead ripe tomato juice, fresh basil mayonnaise, and smoky bacon fat. That the toast could only pretend to contain.
Licking our salty fingers, we sank into this best-ever sandwich to savor our whole season of tomato madness along with it. Like a side dish you can't get enough of. Remembering tomatoes in omelets, frittatas, pizza and foccacia. Layered into every single sandwich, salad and summertime soup. Tiny ones grabbed as a snack on the go. Meaty ones grilled, slow-roasted and stuffed a la Provencal. And those soaring to new heights when paired with peaches in Eileen's surprise tart. Our consuming passion. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. No wonder they're called "love apples". I was sorry I hadn't put up any sauce for the winter. But now it was time for sweet sorrow, and we were resigned to the parting. At least until next year.
Cloudy forecasts and the first serious frost were right around the corner. So we tied tarps around the outdoor furniture, and changed our bed sheets to flannel. Vacuumed out the heater vents, pulled on our rain coats, bought chickens for broth, and went to get flu shots. On the way home, we swung by Green String Farm. Just for stock veg, braising greens, and another round of keeper apples. It was dark, cold and wet out, but there they were. In all their glory. Like an eye-blinking vision before us. Tomatoes. Still? Yes, stacks of tomatoes. Big, small, yellow and red. Even San Marzano Romas. The final harvest gathered in earlier this morning before the downpour, and priced to move before they rotted. $1/pound, $5/box or $12/crate. I could still make some sauce! We snatched up an overflowing crate, yet more aromatics, and then took off like bandits with loot in the back.
Home to haul it all inside. Then rinse, trim, peel, pound, slice, chop, stir, simmer and puree through the fine disk of our decades-old food mill. This is when an extended family of helping hands would come in handy. But did I mention how every room in the house filled with warm smelling spices? (An advantage to having the intake vent in our kitchen once the heater goes on.) And now we have twelve quarts of sauce. Satisfaction guaranteed. Forget the pork chops I got for dinner. We're having angel hair pasta. Simply straight up with tomato sauce. A shower of parmigiano reggiano and the absolutely last zucchini sauteed to caramelize and sit alongside.
No wonder this is my favorite season. Its abundance even comes with another last chance. And the lingering sweetness of a voluptuous summer. To keep us all cozy when the nights grow so cold.
Bon Appetit! Kay
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