Summer can fast and hard. The weather has normalized a bit but before that we had a record-breaking dry streak and quite a few days in the high 80s and 90s. That meant two things: #1 my husband bought a portable A/C unit and #2 my tomatoes and peppers flourished! However, I quickly realized that I was in quite the predicament when, day after day, I would return from the yard with a bowl full of golden cherry tomatoes. They are sweet and delicious and, as you may know, you can’t beat a fresh, homegrown tomato. We ate them by the handful; we tossed them in our salads; we had a lot of tomatoes.
Here’s the “calm before the storm” when I picked the first tomato of the season on July 6.
Here are “a few more” from the end of July, complete with some of the last peas and beans and one of the first padrón peppers.
Oh look! More beautiful tomatoes from just a few weeks ago. At this point, my husband and I were starting to wonder what we were going to do with all of these. We wanted to find a new way to eat them that didn’t make their incredible flavor.
That’s when we looked at the tomatoes, the peppers, and some onion sitting on the counter and thought: SALSA! Now I am a total sucker for fresh salsa or pico de gallo. I border on the mindset that you should just eat the stuff straight instead of wasting precious stomach-space on chips. So we threw everything into the food processor (as well as some garlic), added a touch of salt and pepper, and PRESTO! The freshest golden cherry tomato salsa EVER. So simple. So good. I was impressed with the way the sweetness of the tomatoes blended with the hot peppers and produced some of the best darn salsa I’ve ever eaten. It didn’t taste like a traditional red salsa but I was certainly sorry to see when it was gone.
Beyond the beautiful salsa (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture but that just proves how excited we were to eat it all) is something that I am even more proud of. Nearly everything (with the exception of the salt & pepper and garlic which came from Costco) was grown in my backyard. I actually have some homegrown garlic as well so we could have used that if it wasn’t for the bushel that we got from Costco. I was so proud to produce things that went directly into a delicious dish that my husband and I enjoyed one evening.
When we were at services last Friday night, the Rabbi asked the congregation to think about a blessing in your life. It could be something personal, something you did for a loved one, or something you did for the community. I am a little embarrassed to say that my husband and I looked at each other with the mutual thought of “uhhh what have we done that has been a blessing?” Then we had to share with someone we didn’t know sitting next to us. We politely asked the woman to my right to go first. She had a wonderful example of how she is hoping to write a book on her family’s history in the southern US. Wow! Cool! I was still at a loss. My husband finally said that he is a “fixer” – he helps people at work when their devices (computer, phone, etc.) aren’t working properly. He does quite a lot people. Fantastic! People love you! Maybe now we can be done, I thought. Nope. Nada. No dice. They turned to me with expectant looks. I got very nervous and the social anxiety started to creep in. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to brag about something that someone else wouldn’t think was worthy of being considered a “blessing.” I didn’t want to seem like I thought I was the greatest thing since sliced challah (a type of bread).
Finally I timidly said “Well, I guess my garden is a blessing…?” I explained to the woman next to me that I love to grow things and I try to work towards being a little bit more sustainable every year. She thought that was wonderful and my husband agreed. Thank goodness; bullet dodged. Perhaps I should spend a little more time thinking about what my addiction to growing fruits and vegetables means for the bigger picture. Yes, it does help to calm my inner self and it brings me joy. But it also makes my husband happy to see me happy and to have fresh food on the table. And it also helps out the planet a little as well: more food for bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators (not to mention the critters that enjoy taking bites out of things…) and maybe it decreases my carbon footprint by a smidge. That seems like a success in my book.