Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lush Late Summer

Processing our garden produce is often accompanied by serenading insects. Their captivating chorus drifts through the open kitchen windows as I rinse, chop, simmer, and sieve. Their identity? Doubt they are the beloved cigales of southeast France. Or grasshoppers. My bet is the chirping being given freely as August heat envelops and dusk closes in belongs to crickets. In the last two weeks, thirty-six kilograms/eighty pounds of tomatoes have been turned into concentrate and sauce. I no longer skin tomatoes for sauce because after several hours of simmering they cleave off the tomatoes on their own accord. I just pick them out once the sauce is cooled. To make around 3 litres, in a large, non-reactive pot like stainless steel or enamelled, saute in a little olive oil 4 Toulouse sausages (Italian sweet can be substituted) which have been removed from their casings. Breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, stir for a few minutes, and then add 4-5 crushed, large garlic cloves. Keeping the heat low, rinse and quarter 7 kilograms/15 pounds of tomatoes. Add them to the pot as you work. Toss in 1 tablespoon of dried basil, several bay leaves, and a few scrubbed Parmesan rinds. Simmer, partially covered, for 3-4 hours or until the sauce is thick and luscious. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cool. Scoop out those skins. Portion. Freeze.


Though the tomato harvest is well past its peak, there are still quite a lot in the process of ripening on the vines.


When romas are ripe, they are fully and deeply red.


I quarter the romas. The crickets sing.


I have been meaning to get some Opinel knives for many a year which I finally have done so.  Only a French knife could boast of a denture velours (velvet teeth). It slices through food effortlessly.



Thinly sliced tomatoes? Some mozzarella remaining from making lasagna? Potted basil waving at you from a sunny window sill? It's a cinch to make caprese salad. Layer tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with chiffonade of basil.


Now that I am somewhat on top of tomato processing, it's the peaches' turn, and then the plums'.


There still are strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries here and there which get sugared and topped with cream whipped by The Calm One.


Though my focus is on preserving the bounty of peaches of which I am guessing will amount to about twenty-two kilograms/fifty pounds, we still make room for fresh ones which are pitted, sliced, and topped with whipped cream.


The Calm One's social creativity is always a delight: suggesting that his sibling reunion take place in the large garden of the Huddersfield home in which they all grew up (across the street where the familial dwelling of James Mason once was) though the house now belongs to strangers (who would be invited, of course); getting our niece and nephew to go racing out on our balcony to see who would be the first to spot the faint footprint of the international space station slowly padding its way across the night sky; most recently, his listening intently with a thoughtful facial expression as I announced the passing of some hot air balloons, and then his softly saying, lets photograph the universe in a glass against the backdrop of the balloons

The universe in his hand

À la prochaine!