A recent Instatgram post by Delores Arabian of Vignette Design (one of the first blogs I followed) said, “August is like the Sunday of summer.” So true. The routine changes, no matter what your routine is. August just feels different. The light is shifting. People seem to move a little more quickly and with more purpose.
I’ve spent the last week deciding what to do with a bountiful harvest of tomatoes and looking for fall inspiration in a few antique stores.
Start with a bucket of tomatoes
First, a little background. A few years ago, we took our kitchen down to the studs for a much-needed renovation. Thanks to a great designer, who took the time to understand what Steve and I each wanted in a kitchen, we got all that and more. It looks great; more importantly, it really works! I can easily spend an entire day puttering around in my kitchen. In fact, yesterday I did. I started with a five-gallon bucket of fresh tomatoes from my husband’s garden (I think you could easily call this “high tomato season”), and things just kept going from there.
This is not the first bucket of tomatoes this season. Despite a slow start, the garden plot has been prolific. It began with radishes and beets, then moved on to cucumbers and beans. Lots of cucumbers and beans. I gave them away, there were so many. Now we have buckets of tomatoes.
I think everyone has their own favorite ways of dealing with tomatoes. We love fresh tomato bruschetta and have been serving it to everyone who’s come to dinner in the last month. BLT’s are a regular feature on the menu. My grandma used to can tomatoes, in glass jars in a water bath. It was a hot, labor-intensive process. Instead I drop the meatier tomato varieties, like Romas, into boiling water for just a few minutes to facilitate skinning. After letting them cool briefly, the skins slide off and I slit them to seed them, then crush this “tomato meat” with my hands (As Ina Garten always says, clean hands are the cook’s best tool!) and pack in quart containers for the freezer.
Then, because there were more tomatoes, I made this fresh tomato soup recipe from The Cafe Sucre Farine (A delicious food blog; if you’re not into cooking, just enjoy the pictures!) It was super easy. No skinning or seeding the tomatoes! Blending at the end takes care of that. (Hint: I did it in batches with my immersion blender.) It’s so yummy, I wanted to lick the bowl. You can find the recipe here.
And, as long as I was in the kitchen, I made a pot of chicken stock. I know this sounds crazy, but I was using my last carton in the tomato soup. I knew I had the ingredients to make more stock, so what’s another pot going on the stove? Now I have cartons of fresh tomato soup, chicken stock, and tomatoes in the freezer.
Tomorrow I’m baking a cake!
When in doubt, go antiquing
Every so often I feel the need to spend some time shopping a few local antique malls. Sometimes I come away empty-handed, sometimes I find a new treasure, and sometimes I come home with inspiration to use what I already have in a new way. But the bottom line for me is that antiquing always fuels my creativity. And I’ve been looking for ideas for a bit of a “fall refresh” around the house.
This display in one booth (above) stopped me in my tracks. My love for ironstone is “well-documented” so I studied this carefully. I have a number of similar pieces, but it was hard to tear myself away (and I’m not at all convinced I don’t need that stack of covered dishes). I did come away with this small ironstone tray and a few hand-painted pieces. (Full confession: I gave the footed bowl and saucer to a friend. It was made for her collection!)
In another another booth, I found a few new blue and white transferware pieces. I’m especially excited about one plate, since a previous owner added this information on a small strip of tape to the back: “from C.C. Penney This came to America is 1830 Given to me May 4, 1969 (from Peggie)”. Isn’t that amazing? Now I’m wondering if I should do the same with a few of my favorite things.
What’s inspiring you this August?
See you next time!