There is so much going on in our small town this week that regrettably, I can only touch upon a few.
First up is the Concord Farmer's Market along Main Street this Saturday (hurricane pending.) This is a wonderful event featuring the lushest produce and freshest flowers from our very own farms. Main Street is temporarily transformed into a pedestrian-only Times Square, as local farms set up stands to sell their wares. I highly recommend you attend this event, if for nothing else but to see the beautiful fruits, flowers and vegetables grown right here on our fertile soil.
This will be the first year I am unable to attend the Farmer's Market, as I will be headed to another prominent area of produce, the Big Apple. (If Earl does beat down on us this weekend, West Concord 5 & 10 has all the essentials you need for hurricane survival.)
I did, however, spend the past few days reaping what my neighbors' sowed. I made both a tomato soup and a tomato sauce, using only produce grown in my own neighborhood. George grew the tomatoes, Bob the basil and parsley, and the onions and garlic were grown by Frank at Scimone Farms. They were very easy to make, and I must say, truly delicious. It is quite rewarding to create meals from ingredients grown in our friends' backyards.
Here are a few quick tips. By omitting two cups of cooked rice, I slightly modified the soup recipe from Anna Thomas' "The New Vegetarian Epicure," (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996)
- Four pounds ripe, red tomatoes (about 10)
- Two tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion finely chopped
- Three to four garlic cloves, finely chopped
- One teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped (though I used whole leaf)
- Two cups vegetable broth (I used bouillon)
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
Peel and de-seed tomatoes. You can do it by hand or machine.
By hand, first wash the tomatoes, then remove the stems and gently slice crisscross indents in the skin. You can scald them by placing each tomato in boiling water for less than a minute, then quickly dipping it in ice-cold water. The skin will peel easily. Slice each tomato in half and, over a cutting board that allows for juice overflow, gently squeeze each half. With the end of a spoon, remove the seeds from each section. Puree the de-seeded tomatoes in a blender.
The other option is to quarter the washed tomatoes and place them in a de-seeding machine. It works much like a coffee grinder as you churn the mill, and the skin and seeds pour out one outlet, while the puree pours out another.
I didn't set timers, but I estimate the machine took about a quarter of the time, and the puree was smooth and seedless, though I did get a seed in my eye. (Don't ask.) Both are equally messy. I did benefit from the meditative process of the old-fashioned method and believe the peeling helped me resolve some potential personal crisis. To each her own.
You need to sauté the onion in the olive oil for about three minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes longer. Add in the pureed tomatoes (however you pureed them) and basil. Simmer for about half an hour, add the broth and rice if you are using it. Return to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Tuna melts are an excellent accompaniment.
To make the tomato sauce, puree the tomatoes, then sauté onion and garlic in olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the puree, chopped basil and Italian parsley, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Simmer for at least half an hour. Serve with your favorite pasta.
In keeping with the homegrown farming theme, I recommend placing all the tomato skins, seeds, onion skins, etc. in a compost bin in your yard. I finally took advantage of Concord Public Works' stock of compost bins. For $50, I purchased a sturdy composter. This is easily assembled, coyote-proof, and has a perforated floor so worms and other insects can get in (Concord, as you know, is all inclusive.) There is also a little door so that next spring, I can easily access the compost for my plants.
Can't beat the price
While at the CPW, I learned about Concord-Freecycle. This is a website linked to www.freecycle.org. It works much like Craig's List, except all the items are free. You post what you may no longer need, with a brief description, and hopefully, someone who needs that will see it and offer to take it off your hands. Sure beats a yard sale, which in my experience, is a lot of work for a little cash. Go to http://groups.yahoo.comgroup/concord-freecycle/.
Missing loved ones
Two Concord families deeply miss their four-legged members. I know how hard this can be, as our beloved cat Pepper hasn't been seen since 1996. Our son still hangs up Pepper's stocking every Christmas.
Kaiser (pictured), a tuxedo cat, has been missing since Aug. 20. Kaiser was last seen in the Route 62 section of Old Bedford Road. Yes, it's been awhile, but the family is still hopeful. Email me here if you have a tip.
Charlie, an Italian greyhound, was last seen on Cedar Jones Road near Hanscom Air Force Base. If you see Charlie, call any of these three numbers: 978-371-0734, 978-831-3381, or 978-771-4791.
Wouldn't it be really nice if Kaiser and Charlie return home?