With my computer up and running again, I can once again join my friends in the food blogging community. So, what have I been up to in my computer-free spare time? I went Amish.
Last week at the farmers market, I was surprised to see Joe at Dirty Girl selling his luscious dry-farmed early girl tomatoes in November. I plucked a blood red wedge off the sample plate. With juices running down my wrist, I popped it in my greedy mouth and audibly gasped as its mid-summer sweetness exploded across my tongue. If only I could bottle that taste....
In that split second, my stomach staged a bloodless coup, momentarily overthrowing the more rational and obviously weaker part of my brain known as self-restraint. "You can bottle that summer goodness," it whispered hungrily to the easily duped, and no doubt dormant, part of my cerebral cortex, the left frontal lobe, the decision-maker that mistakenly believes it holds the purse strings.
Before I knew it, I arrived home with a 20-pound case of tomatoes in my trunk.
After many hours of cutting, peeling, chopping, puréeing, stewing, cleaning, bottling and freezing, I now possess two gallons of sublime tomato sauce, enough to introduce a little bit of sunlight into the cold dark months that lay ahead.
As the days grow shorter, I seem to be unconsciously preparing for the hibernation of the winter rainy season. You'd think I lived on a farm in snowy Minnesota or rural Missouri (perhaps a part of me does).
With two dozen jars of "Dirty Girl Late Early Girl Tomato Sauce" secure in my freezer, I figured why not attempt to bottle every bit of sunshine I can? I scanned the contents of my fridge in search of the next victim to embalm. By now, I was deeply in touch with the Luddite, Pennsylvania Dutch roots on my father's side of the gene pool.
Today I'm putting up a batch of red pepper confiture that my friend Alicia taught me how to make in Catalonia this past summer. Cook together cut up red peppers (including a hot chile or two) and sugar in the proportion of two parts peppers to one part sugar, a lemon (inner flesh only, all peel and seeds removed) and a vanilla bean until soft. Then remove the vanilla bean and purée the whole mess, adding salt to taste. It is unbeatable with sheep's milk cheese on crackers with the morning cuppa or as an aperitif with a glass of Cava later in the evening.