tomatoes and lazy peppers

Princess_1 I spent, what felt like a whole summer, but more realistically was probably a stretch of two days, making fresh summer tomato sauce. Marking each tomato with an X, dipping each into a pot of boiling water, inspecting them for when the skins began to curl up like the corners of a page. I’d fish them out, with a bowl of ice water at the ready. "Blanched." It sounds like a grandmother who wears short white gloves and long white pearls, a small hat pinned to her head with a fine netted veil pulled down, lipstick on her teeth. A real tomato.

I skinned each tomato, revealing a mealy, veined, translucent oddball, filled with seeds. How they haven’t been commonly compared to testicles is beyond me. I slipped a finger up its center, then broke through each of the chambers, the viscous seeds slipping into my garbage bowl. I passed the broken bodies through a chrome food mill, cranking the handle over a mixing bowl, as beads and mash passed through. A raw puree.

I should take the time to savor more than summer. Continue to delight in the small side roads that give me a strange sense of peace. I should go outside more and let grass stick to the backs of my thighs. I should learn how to make a fire in my fireplace. I should toast some marshmallows and work on a good ghost story. I shouldn’t feel guilty about the fact that I’d love to spend an afternoon doing nothing but planning the perfect fall picnic menu for when the leaves begin to change. I should learn how to tailgate properly. I still need to buy a flask. I love the smaller moments, but I need to be better about sharing them.

* * *

200711trumptowerandunw650 Speaking of sharing and capturing moments: A friend of mine has a gallery show in New York, and this week is the last chance to see it! His work is stunning, especially if you love New York. Imagine one of his prints in my New York room?! Stop by for me. I wish I could be there. Information below:

Group show with Joergen Geerds, Richard Roth and Carol Salmanson
532 Gallery (
532 West 25th St, second Floor
Open: Tuesday to Thursday, 11-6 and ALSO by appointment
Close: August 15

And for anyone checking in on Phil’s results, they still are not in, which makes my stomach squirrely.



  1. Sadly, I can relate to your post. Even sader is the fact that I work full time and don't have the time to appreicate the moments you speak of the way I should. I have too many "moments" to list here without seeming like a blog-hog, but the most important of those relate to my beautiful daughter… who is nearly 9 months old already…I'm dealing with a lot of guilt, needless to say…

  2. Interesting what a summer tomato means to other people. To me, the best way to eat a good summer tomato is raw (and not blanched); sliced, fleur de sel, or sea salt, and pepper, with the juices dripping down your hand or chin.

  3. I think I spend a lot of time in the summer feeling like I'm grasping for something – and quite nostalgic for that something ( that "feeling" or mood) that I just can't quite get to. If this makes some sense…it's kind of like a profound homesickness.
    I am lucky to be on vacation with my family, and even then, it can sometimes feel difficult to make things "fill me up" as much as I wish they would. Maybe it's a *quality* of presence that I'm looking for?

    FROM SK: That's exactly right. I know that cloudy feeling. I find I'm most in it when I have my camera and can capture the smaller moments, when I'm thinking. If I'm in a hammock, I might later go back with my camera and take a photo of the view (just for me) because when I see that photo, I'll think of/remember that moment of thinking. And that somehow makes me feel connected to something/ to myself–I'm not quite sure, but it means something.

  4. Oh my, the perfect fall picnic! I have loads of magazines with recipes waiting for those wonderful, crisp afternoons.

    Homemade cream of tomato soup in a thermos, pressed sandwiches, mulled wine, some sort of tart with chevre and figs.


  5. Home-made tomato sauce, you domestic goddess you! I am waiting for my home grown tomatoes to ripen, then I'll dig in and make salsa, chili sauce, fruit sauce…..yum. Summer is flying by way too fast. Create more moments if you can.

  6. Definitely figure out your fireplace. It just doesn't feel like the holidays without a crackling fire, although getting it started was always considered "men's work" in my house growing up. A bit of advice: get yourself a cheap hair dryer and keep it within reach of the fireplace – works like a charm to get the fire really roaring. Then again, as I'm typing this, it's dawned on me that you probably have one of those gas-powered fireplaces that you turn on with a remote control. In which case, invest in the firewood scented Bendel candle. Almost just as good as the real thing.

  7. can't wait for my cuisinart to come in the mail. the folks that own our neighborhood supermarket also garden, and sell bunches of basil from their garden. i'm thinking batches and batches for fresh pesto, frozen to last through the winter…

  8. I loved your comment about "planning the perfect fall picnic menu for when the leaves begin to change." However, here in Austin, we don't have the kind of trees that change color in the fall. Unless you count the Chinese Tallow Trees (aka trash trees). It's been my sorrow every autumn. However, take the family to Bastrop State Park this fall, there are pine trees that smell great and an occasional hardwood tree with colorfull leaves. Or go to Lost Maples State Park. Those trees are the last vestiges of a large maple forest from the old, old days. Enjoy your moments!

  9. Last nite my husband and I sat outside and toasted marshmallows, made smores. Such a simple thing but it was so fun and good!

    I am looking forward to fall here in NY. I am so wanting to break out my fall candle cinnamon…

    I would also love to see a pic of your NY room!

    Still thinking good thoughts for you and Phil…..

  10. Thanks for the great post. Our tomatoes are just starting to turn from green to red and I can't wait for the mother load. I just finished your first book and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. Not only were you speaking about my life (not in NYC but doesn't really matter) and my angst about being single, dating and learning to love myself. You have a wonderful gift for the written word and I wanted you to know how it resonated with me. Looking forward to future nuggets from you and enjoy the rest of your lazy or not-so lazy summer!

  11. Yes, and there's no greater gift to your children than taking the time to savor those small moments. We let the worries of adulthood take up so much of our being, especially when we become parents. Yet the magical moments our children remember sharing with us when they're grown are the ones that are meandering, seemingly aimless and purposeless, purely experiential, like exploring a tiny side road or making a fire, or watching an anthill. I guess it's an adult parent's job to worry about the big stuff, but it's also our job to continue to savor the small, for our children's selves as well as our own.

  12. Do you slice each tomato with an X to mark the spot for treasure?

    Hey, I'm in Austin too! That sitting in the grass thing sounds good and all, but the only thing that would stick to the backs of my thighs are fireants.

    Fire in the fireplace, Baby THAT'S EASY!! Mail me, I'll come show you how to do it. And show you how to get that delicate golden brown on your mallows too.


  13. Thanks for the vicarious visit to nostalgia. I had this great memory of when my father is starting up our fireplace how he always steps outside in his socks and sweatpants and tracks in wood pieces before curling last weeks newspaper beneath the logs. He checks the water on the wood stove – so it wont get too dry in the room. It's not the fire at all I find charming – its with the unromanticized experience of it in my house.

  14. I experienced a similar sensation the other day – picking the ripe raspberries from the vine, smashing them – adding sugar – bringing them to a slow, sweet bubble on the stove…

    I love picking fresh borage from the vine and dropping it lusciously into my white wine…

    Plucking a tomato from the vine, and polishing it off on my shirt before popping it into my mouth…

    Sitting outside when the rain falls from a clear blue sky and watching the birds go crazy eating the worms from the lawn…

    god, I love summer. Every little thing about it.

    The smell of meat on the grill…
    the taste of sweet, summer corn…
    fresh bread…
    peas picked from the vine…
    hot coffee with cold cream and time to do the NY Times crossword puzzle on the balcony where there is nothing but heaven all around…

    Oh, fall, – please hold off. Life – and summer – are too short.

  15. I too know that feeling of not getting to the "deeper" experience in smaller things, which can make one very sad (especially on holidays). But when it does happen, I drink life in big gulps, and those memories are worth a million.

    Oh, and for fall picnics i get my inspiration and recipes from Delicious magazine (not sure if you get it in the states though), which I highly recommend.

    Anyway, great shot of the city, I really like that sort of thing.

  16. Well, tomatoes are often known as 'pommes d'amour' which translates as 'love apples' – which I suppose can be another description of testicles…

    FROM STEPHANIE: I'm totally using that in my next book. In fact, I call shotgun. Forever on, I will refer to testicles as "Love Apples," which one-up's the term "mangerines" in my book because it originated right here instead of in a writers room. So cool.

  17. Well, I'm glad SK has a new idea for her next book and all. . . but I'll never look at tomatoes the same way again! Too funny.

  18. live in actual moments instead of trying to create perfect ones! moments will never "fill you up" the way you yearn for if you keep imagining these perfect secenarios for every situation.

  19. Since we are talking fresh summer produce, I just have to say that I went blueberry picking yesterday & loved it! Also bought some great corn from a road-side stand, delish! And by the way, nice summer list from 3 teens' mom. I hope Phil is having a good week.

  20. I'm due to visit New York for the first time (first time to the States, actually) in early September – any tips (where to stay, where to go) for the first timer?


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