Strawberries and Tomatoes: A Chronicle of My Life in the Good Food Movement


The daily need to eat, and the search for food it requires, is humanity's umbilical cord to the rest of the planet. Every action we take as we feed ourselves and our families reinforces and recreates our connection to the millions of other species on Earth.


The work I do is to make that connection explicit at a time in human history when it is tragically far from being so. I love what I do, and it's high time I write about it. This is a chronicle of the 17 years I've spend connecting people with the sources of their food, and of what I hope are many more years of that work to come.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Excellent Night in the Kitchen

Arrived home last night and began my sous-chef duties for the frittata on the evening's menu. My spouse has a way with egg dishes (which I rather definitively do not) and thus would be executive chef for the evening. I was happy to do the veggie prep in exchange for not having to worry about the mysterious transactions between eggs and heat.

We had a whole mess of yummy produce in the fridge that needed to be eaten, all of it from the CSA garden at a good friend's co-housing community up in Southwest NH. The residents there are overwhelmed by the abundance of their garden and I was happy to relieve some of the stress on their kitchens, freezers, and canning operations.

So after a rainy drive home from the office, I fastened on my apron and enjoyed a cozy hour in the delightfully warm kitchen (not a phrase you hear often in August!). I chopped and boiled potatoes, sweated leeks and shallots, halved cherry tomatoes from Papa-in-law, assessed the edibility of zucchini and summer squash that had been a bit too long in the fridge (whoops ...), and generally puttered around joyfully.

About an hour later we sat down to the best frittata I have ever had, paired with a red wine from a family-owned vineyard local to the archeological dig site my spouse worked at last summer. My general rule for wine is to drink from vineyards I have some connection to whenever possible, and since this red was the go-to for the whole team at the dig (being available in refillable bottles a quick drive from the site!), I feel pretty good about it.

While the frittata was cooking I had been prepping the tomatoes for a test batch of Sherri Brooks Vinton's quick roasted tomato sauce, so as we ate the rich smell of ripe tomatoes roasting in olive oil and garlic wafted from the oven. I am confident that the frittata and wine were all the more delicious enjoyed between breathfuls of that heartily fruity air.

After about an hour and a half in the oven, the tomatoes were done, and wow, were they good. "Essence of tomato" was the phrase that kept running through my mind as I spooned the sauce into a glass jar for later use. Not as rich as sun-dried, but significantly more mature in flavor than a raw tomato or even a fresh tomato sauce -- a bit like the difference between grape juice and red wine, perhaps. I can't wait to serve some up over pasta, and we are definitely making more to freeze.

For all the details on the recipe I urge you to check out Sherri's book , but the basics are simple. Core and cut up a bunch of dead ripe tomatoes (I chopped mine to about 1 -- 2 inches square ... ish). Toss them in a glass baking dish with 1 -- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and as much thinly sliced garlic as you desire. Add salt and pepper if you want, and bake at 350 for an hour or two. You'll want to stir and keep an eye on things, but with the smells coming from your oven you won't want to go too far away, anyway!

Tonight we'll enjoy the rest of the frittata accompanied by a fresh salad with ingredients from the Davis Square Market and yet more cherry tomatoes. Dessert will be the peaches we can't live without, the ones that get me to Davis every Wednesday 'til frost. Nothing fancy, just good, fresh food. Just how we like it, and just the perfect meal for Day 4 of Massachusetts Farmers Market Week.

** Today's blog post, like yesterday's, was brought to you by the Loving Local blog-a-thon, hosted by Tinky at In Our Grandmother's Kitchens with support from the Mass Dept. of Ag Resources and Mass Farmers Markets. The Federation of Mass Farmers Markets is the charitable beneficiary of this blog-a-thon, and it's staff and board (who I might know rather well) would be most grateful for your support. **

2 comments:

  1. I want to make BOTH the frittata and the sauce--well, maybe tomorrow! I'm still tinkering with my own recipe for the blogathon. Thanks, Hannah! I'd love to be in your kitchen.

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  2. Crackity Jones y Slim SeamusAugust 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    mmmmm..yr spouse is cool!

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