August 3, 2009
August = Tomatoes!
August is always a mixed bag for me. This is because it brings all kinds of contradictory emotions wrapped up in one month. Maybe because I have spent the better part of my life until recently working in the academic world, and as soon as August rolls around the dread of going back to school creeps in and makes me realize that summer is almost over. On the other hand, I was always a very eager student who actually looked forward to going back to school and couldn't wait to show off her new school clothes and meet her new teachers. (I know, geek alert).
Now that the academic calendar no longer rules my life, I still have remnants of the mixed desire/dread that plagued me for so many years. It's like a learned reaction that I can't quite kick. I dread that summer is almost over and I feel like I haven't done enough canning, preserving, traveling, swimming, biking, etc. And pretty soon it will be winter. I mean, it's almost Christmas! (can you see where this is headed?) On the other hand, I love the month of August for its mixture of carefree summer days and the promise and potential of new beginnings that lie just around the corner.
Oh, and what would August be without those beautiful, shiny, irregular homegrown tomatoes? I am lucky to live in a place that not only prides itself on its tomato crop, with many different heirloom varieties in all of the farmer's markets right now, but it seems that every single person in my neighborhood has a few tomato plants in the backyard. One cute elderly woman even sells hers on a folding table in her front yard. The sign reads "homegrown tomatoes for sale." Even if there is no garden to speak of, there are a few tomato plants in everyone's backyard off in a sunny corner, promising a tasty month of homegrown goodness.
We even have our very own Tomato Festival in East Nashville -- the premiere neighborhood event of the year. It's next weekend and I can't wait!
So what do I do with my tomatoes? I posted about the soup last time, but usually I do something much simpler that involves no cooking. A simple caprese salad if I can find fresh mozzarella, because together with the tomatoes, I have basil coming out of my ears right now.
Or, I boil some water, throw in some thin spaghetti and toss the hot pasta with roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, basil, two cloves of minced garlic, some capers and a few black olives if I have them, a splash of balsamic vinegar and the best olive oil I can find. It's my man's favorite use of tomatoes. I have to agree.
I can honestly say that if it weren't for Tennessee tomatoes, I would be rather blue this month. There is something missing in my life and that may be the student/teacher in me speaking. But, if I can't go back to school, I can at least get into the fun that August always brings and be grateful for the celebration of a perfect fruit.
So...tell us. What do you do with your tomatoes?