Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Harvest Time

Hi again!

What does a girl have to say....
When it has been some time now since I have shared my thoughts, my ideas, my confessions as a food lover...
I think that I need to stop making it seem like such an impossible task.  Stop looking at it as a task.  At first  it was only a week from the last time I had made a post- then two- and then before i knew it- almost ten months later I am sitting in front of this screen and finally ready to share...

I'm confident this is a good way for me to jump back in- I have not stopped writing just so you know (smile)  I have just been using more traditional methods of pen and paper up until recently.  Sometimes it just feels good to sense the ink meeting the paper, the sound it makes as it glides across the page and transforms into the story of my heart.

Here is a taste of what I have been creating lately, its just an "amuse" so to speak, a way to get your palate started.  A way to introduce you to what I have been practicing and creating lately in the kitchen.  We will get back to more heartier confessions soon.  This is the first "harvest" I have shared in a while so thank you for being patient with me my friends.  It feels good to share again and make something good!

The Harvest...

In the midst of harvesting... ok stealing all the tootsie rolls from my kids halloween loot bags after they went to sleep on Halloween night I was actually thinking about tomatoes.

 Funny that I would choose this to be my focus while I unwrapped a twisted end to one of the tootsie wrappers and quickly popped the waxy chocolate deliciousness of my youth into my mouth.  Tootsie rolls are one of the last retro candies out there that still seems to make it into kids halloween bags, bank candy bowls and its also tootsie rolls that maintain themselves as the cheapest piece of candy still available at 7-11 and gas stations.  The classic tootsie roll has always been and still is my favorite candy at Halloween.  Forget the crazy flavored, cherry, vanilla and lime- those all taste terrible to me, but not the original.  My kids know how much i love tootsie rolls too.  Riley saved me a whole bag of them from the last birthday party he went to.  I will have to eat them soon since tootsie rolls are really only good when they are fresh and new.  The older they get the harder they are to chew.  I can't stand how Tootsies will stick in your teeth really bad once they get too stale and old too.

But lets get back to the tomatoes...

Especially the cherry or grape variety.  These are about the closest thing I can come up with that is like natures candy to me.  A much healthier choice for sure but that is a reason very far down the list for why I love them.  To me these little gems are like treasures- their annual vine sweetened arrival is a phenomenal event for me now.
(Truthfully, I had  never really liked raw tomatoes of any kind until much later in my life)

My discovery of this ruby red delight in my later years of my lifetime has been a spectacular reawakening of my palate.  I simply love a handful of grape size tomatoes as my treat.  Even finding just one ripe one off the stem is enough in the beginning of the early harvest to exhilarate me and give me a giddy happy smile.

The harvest of tomatoes is complete now.  The colder weather is tip toeing into the scene, exposing early morning frost covered landscapes.  Their is not much in the way of anything being produced anymore, and basically all of the fruit bearing vegetation is turning in for the season. This is not surprising ever, but always bittersweet to me.  Its hard to say goodbye to the vibrancy and beauty of the gardens, the boxes and boxes of farm deliveries with their golden, verdant, and sometimes even fiery treasures.  All the  amazingly delicious treasures that can be eaten straight from their vines or branches.  I find myself savoring these flavors a little more emotionally.  Closing my eyes as I taste the complexities of the final crops of 2011.  Its been a really great year.


The oven door is left open to spread its remaining traces of warmth into my kitchen as I finish plating dinner.  Their are no fresh tomatoes on my menu tonight.  I am ok with that.  Instead I've already started to reach into my winter storage, the soil laden root crops that I squirreled away these past few months in anticipation of these cooler Autumn evenings.  I don't spend too much time on plate presentation this evening except to make sure the plates are nice and hot to carry my expectations to the dinner fork. 

 Tonight its a table where two of my biggest critics, slash fans await rather impatiently for their meal.  They have already took their turns walking in and out of the kitchen several times, stirring the contents of the saute pan,  and stepping way back by my instruction as a great accumulation of steam releases into the atmosphere during my check of the oven contents.  They have made their guesses, helped make last minute seasoning adjustments and overall kept me company as I prepared this meal.  After I present their plates and go back to the kitchen to pour their apple cider, I instantly smile at the sound of the silverware musically meeting the dishes.  

Returning to the table to join them I get instant feedback.  Riley is fidgeting in his seat as he always does, never sitting still he is up on his knees in his chair and resting on his elbows over top of his place seating.  He is looking into the plate of food as he scoops up his next bite and then he flashes me a sweet sizeable grin... I know he will clean his plate tonight. Yes!  I look over next to me and see Lauren is exploring through the flavors of her dish.  She agrees that I could have been a little more creative with the plating but that the flavors are perfect.  She likes the drop of honey she added to the brussel sprout saute at the last minute for me .  It was a very good call.  She also says I should think about signing up for the Food Network Show chopped in which I reply I could use some more practice.  She reassures me that if I need help with plating ideas that she has always liked to make smiley faces with her food and the judges might like that.  We all laugh and eventually everyone's plate is turned into the dish pit without the need for scraping.

(Dinner tonight:  Brussel Sprout, Mushroom and caramelized onion Saute with Farm raised Smoked Bacon over  Smashed Yukon Gold and Butternut Squash with feta. ~ Could have maybe had a sauce but tonight it tasted great without one too) 

This is it.  Production yields smiles and a memorable experience.  

Tootsie rolls are instant and everywhere, all the time.  They are taken for granted so that in order to enjoy them I have decided for myself that I have to be willing to not think too deeply about what they are made up of.  They are ok once a year I guess.

Tomatoes are special and their flavor profile changes with the intrinsic fusion of the season they belong to.  While they can also be taken for granted when their harvest is good and plentiful, their capacity to make a meal completely special and memorable is powerful.  They are one of my favorite tastes of sunshine.


the first vine-ripened gem sliced in half
delicate splash of seasoning
now close your eyes
go on a taste journey
simple complexity
of sunshine
and rain
the language of pure flavor
It demands your attention

scarlet beauty
communicating clearly
pleasure filled moment
Luscious memory.