it’s been a cool, rainy summer here in the east, so the typical summer bounty hasn’t been what it usually is. my tomato plants are laden with green tomatoes that are waiting for hot weather to ripen so i’ve had to resort to buying tomatoes.
there is nothing else in the world like a freshly picked jersey tomato. honestly. i’ve had a lot of good tomatoes, especially in texas and mexico, but there’s something about the new jersey soil that makes a tomato smell and taste a particular way.
we’re getting a lot of tiny heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market this year– little multi-colored gems as sweet as candy. i’ve been indulgently turning them into tomato confit. if you’ve never done this, i highly recommend it and if you do make this, have a loaf of good french bread handy.
Tomato Confit Recipe
1 quart of heirloom cherry tomatoes
good olive oil
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4-5 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of fresh garlic
fleur de sel or the best salt you can find
choose a dish that will fit the cut tomatoes snugly. cut the basil leaves into strips. chop the garlic cloves. distribute the basil, thyme and garlic in the bottom of a baking dish. cut the tomatoes in half. layer the cut tomatoes over the garlic and herbs in a single layer, cut side down. pour enough olive oil over the tomatoes to cover them halfway. sprinkle salt over the tomatoes. bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the tomatoes are lighly browned.
c’s parents have a house in salem nj on the delaware river and for as long as i’ve known him, we’ve enjoyed some summer days there. there’s screen porch that wraps around 3 sides of the house so you can enjoy the breeze and the view from the water, even from the back of the house. there are rocking chairs on the porch. when the weather isn’t terribly hot and humid, you can leave the doors and windows open and enjoy a breeze through the entire house.
there’s just about nothing to do at the salem house but relax. reading is a big pastime, magazines mostly, big stacks of them piled up against the wall, ready for consumption. often there are boats and jet skis zooming up and down the river, sometimes big vessels making their way up the channel in the distance. there are long conversations on the porch at night while enjoying a cool beverage and quiet mornings at the picnic table at the back of the porch.
when the tide went out there used enough of a sandy shore for the kids to play in the water when they were little. the water was only about 2-3 feet deep going out about 30 feet. since then the river has been dredged to deepen the channel, which pulled sand away from the shoreline. even at low tide there’s not much beach. the sea wall is ideal for fishing at high tide. there’s a lot of screaming and squirming when the hook has to get retrieved from an angry catfish. more screaming and squirming the time we found a dead squirrel hanging off of the front gutter.
the usual dinner fare in salem is freshly picked corn and tomatoes from the farmer up the road and something grilled, often steak or hamburgers, rarely chicken. there is often a beer with lunch and cocktails before dinner and a bag of bugles to dip in the bacon and horseradish dip, a tradition that was started by c’s mother.
for the last few years i’ve been working on perfecting a blueberry pie recipe, so i’ll be making one of those. somehow when we’re at the salem house for a few days i’m compelled to bake something.
i can tell that the light has changed and we’re getting hints of fall weather. i’m going to savor the last few weeks of summer in all of its glorious bounty.