It’s one of my enduring childhood memories, a gift from my mom.  I was seven or eight, my mom in her early thirties, late morning, august sun, we stared at the six full tomato plants we grew behind our garage.  I don’t know if she actually spoke but her urgent and determined movements said, “Let’s do this.” She wrenched two ripe tomatoes from the vine. I followed her to the kitchen. She rinsed both tomatoes briefly under cool water but they stayed hot the sun.  She gave one to me.  She shook salt on the one she held, and it stuck to what water remained.  Something was going on, but I didn’t know what.  Then she bit into the tomato as if it were an apple, closed her eyes once.  She salted the exposed flesh, Read On »

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Video: learning all about the tomato.  The state of the UK tomato in Europe, via The Independent UK.

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A basic tomato sauce is easy and delicious on its own and an elegant cooking tool as well. Braise beef, pork or lamb in it, add it to ground meat for a pasta sauce, poach eggs in it. It’s delicious plain. I returned from New York on Friday and saw a 24-ounce jar of a “celebrity chef” sauce on the counter. Donna said, “It’s really good.”  Then added, “But it cost nine dollars.” Make your own—50% more sauce, 50% of the cost, 100% more pleasure. The above photo shows the difference between a tomato sauce cooked raw, top, and a tomato sauce made by sauteing the tomatoes before pureeing and cooking them.  Both work fine. The fresh sauce tastes fresh and raw, the sauce made with cooked tomatoes has more depth and complexity. If you Read On »

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Dinner, last minute vegetarian delight in this heat: a good toasted baguette, butter, and fat tomatoes that ripened whilst we discovered bahn mi in little Saigon in LA, hiked up the river to Copake Falls in upstate New York, leapt off of 40 foot ledges at an old quarry outside West Stockbridge, swam in the rivers around Dorset, Vermont, swung in hammocks as the sun descended, grilled chicken and corn, drank cold wine and sent paper lanterns to the stars. I have never had more work on my plate, two major books due more or less simultaneously this summer, and rarely has a summer included so much travel and mandatory relaxation, so many hours outdoors with Donna and the kids.  And now I’m home, work weighing on my shoulders a fortunate yoke, while the summer Read On »

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