Well, it’s hot, especially now that I’m sweating for two. I’m nestled in our small office where a humming window air-conditioner is doing all it can to keep me optimistic. The tips of my fingers are rouge from tucking now into a bowl of local, sweet and dark cherries. And the baby is kicking to boot.
I have, as promised, been canning quite a bit of fruit this summer for later presents. Both strawberry and raspberry jams turned out spectacularly, as bright of red as you can imagine. I even jarred nectarines for jam, which turned out well, subtle and not terribly sweet. Once the tomatoes start kicking around, which will be incredibly soon, I’m going to roast them by the sheet drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, whole garlic cloves and maybe some saffron tossed in, later on adding some sea salt and black pepper. Either with my potato masher or food processor I’ll create a sauce and jar a bunch. And I long to can some apples, by either making a straightforward applesauce or maybe a jelly. The St. Paul Farmers Market always has plenty of good apple vendors and so I think I’ll begin there, but I do always feel particularly loyal to the local Hoch Orchards, for their strawberries this year were maybe the best I’ve ever eaten. What are some of your favorite apple recipes to can? Let me know.
Let me give you my roasted tomato sauce reicpe, for it so simple requiring none of that peeling or seeding or coring.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
A quick sauce to make, with a robust roasted flavor, you can use it on pasta, as a pizza sauce, or as a filling for lasagnas, or anywhere a basic tomato sauce may be required. Improvise on this sauce too by adding in any herbs you may have on hand or spices such as saffron to give it a unique flavor.
Pile of Tomatoes (in-season only, prefferably local and organic), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Bulb, Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for a quicker sauce, or 300 degrees for a more slow-roasted sauce. Rinse your tomatoes and sliced them in half at their equators. On a cookie sheet that will hold them snug place them cut side up. Break open your garlic bulb and toss some peeled, slightly crushed cloves into the mix. Drizzle over the top a good bit of olive oil and then a bit of balsamic vinegar. Roast the tomatoes until they are beginning to fall apart and feel soft to the touch.
Once you’ve let them sit for 10 minutes or so, scrape your tomatoes into a food processor and give a few quick pulses. (Do not make a puree, just pulse quickly enough to break it up into a chunky mix). Or you can scrape the tomatoes into a big bowl and use a potato masher to create a good chunky sauce. At this point you’ll want to add in your sea salt and pepper to taste. Voila!
What else? I’ve been hitting the farmers markets these past weeks pretty hard. How many ears of local sweet corn have I eaten already this month? If I have to ask then you can be sure that it’s an embarassing amount. And I’ve been snacking on green beans like french fries. What I’m most excited about is the heirloom melon vendor to show up at the St. Paul Farmers Market this year. If you can get your hands on any of those unusual and seriously flavorful varieties then you can call yourself lucky. Since I’ve become pregnant I’ve already shared with you some of eating challenges and hankerings; melon has been one of those foods I cannot enjoy a meal without. I’ve been buying the California organic orange honeydew from the Wedge the past few weeks. Pick up one of those if you’re over there and make sure to slice it into wedges and make a mess all over yourself while eating it; it really is the best way.
Good news for Farm to Fork, I was just featured in the last issue of the glossy local mag Saint Paul Illustrated Magazine. An interview and a recipe for my asparagus and fontina bread pudding turned out pretty well. Have already received a few inquiries and compliments from folks regarding that. And I should let you know I’ve decided to take a maternity leave this fall to watch the little gremlin grow up for a few months and work his/her way into life. I will be out of circulation from the end of September until January. I will try my darndest to keep up with the blog to keep you in the know, or maybe the tables will turn and I will desperately be begging you to keep me in the know.
There is a book I look forward to coming out this fall or winter that I want to mention. One of my favorite food writers, Nina Planck, is shoving out a book on baby food, the ins and outs of and plenty of recipes for how to feed our children. Her Real Food was such a present to me and to many others I’ve passed it on to I certainly believe this one will be just as life-changing. One of these days it will dawn on us that our children have been too long living off of a limited diet of chicken tenders, pizza bites, and pop tarts. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to a book on the subject. There are a few other titles I am about to get to and will give you full critique when I’m through, such as the new one by Barbara Kingsolver on her family’s year eating only out of her garden called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Russ Parson’s How to Pick a Peach on the world of produce. Don’t worry, I do get outside of food once in a while, I just finished a novel called Links by Somali writer Nuruddhin Farah on the political and social upheaval of Mogadiscio.
That’s it for now. Hope this finds my readers well, keeping cool, and eating extravagantly.