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July 26th, 2012

Tomato Times: Livin’ Large

So. Who’s picked the most tomatoes so far this year? Who cares? I don’t because I just picked my first tom this season. ‘Pilcer Vesy’ by  name. One pound of sugary slurpy sweetness the color of a goldfish, and lifted gently from the branch of a 6ft tall plant. If this tomato was a gal, she’d be called “statuesque”. I knocked myself out. Him Indoors was pretty impressed too. It’s a variety we are testing for next year’s tomato story, and THAT is all I will give away.

It deserved a photo so I propped it on my best piece of glass — a ladeedah Tiffany candlestick — and paid homage with my lens. It mesmerised me: The way the sun-kissed skin glowed, its little blemished shoulder turned shyly to the shadow. It rested quietly, demurely even as I captured its tender image — not like some glossy ol’ red Big Boy as thick as a red neck aiming to punch out  my lights….tomato1

The next step was to slice into this beauty. Selecting my sharpest knife I approached with reverence. All too often I’ve been disappointed:  too many seeds, wet soggy innards, mealy flesh. This fruit was as good inside as out.

sliced

Next came the all important taste test. But this was not to be just any old chomp-a-slice and see. No! This was the first tomato of the year, and after the Tiffany candlestick, only the best would do: A succulent 6 ounce burger of grass-fed organic Angus beef, with organic trimmings, including a generous shredding of home-reared lettuce-leaf basil, a freshly baked white roll, mayo, not too much ketchup, a shmeer of English mustard (Colman’s thankyou very much), and a slice of Provolone melted into a milky mantle.

Whoooa Buddy! now that’s what I call a meal fit for a tomato.

burger

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June 10th, 2012

Frontier of Flavor

Cleaning the kitchen cupboards is not my idea of a thrilling weekend, but that is the task Him Indoors set us, and I have to say, not before time! Tackling the spice and seasonings cupboard was akin to an epicurean archeological dig. Some of the chili mixes went back to the Austinscene era. Seriously….ten years plus. Gads. It also revealed a trove of Indian curry spices and herbs that clung to their flavor by their fingernails. That stuff was O.L.D. No wonder my curries pack not the punch they ‘ere once did.

The upside: Getting rid of all that foodie flotsom made more space for the Frontier spice blends that have been my default for evening meals when I need a flavor boost but can’t face the old grind with the pestle and mortar. Which I do have. Huge ruddy great thing made by Wedgwood for pharamacists use in the days when they called themselves apothecaries. All very handmade, but really. Life is too short to grind fenugreek seeds.

So,  these blends are all you could hope for: ORGANIC ! Fresh, authentic — I’ve been futzing with blends for curry and tagine and harissa for long enough to know when something is not quite the thing. Frontier has it down (although their coriander dressing/marinade never quite lost its dried powdered lawn-clippings taste). Probably the key to their success is the lack of adulteration. But the spice mixes. Oh yes. Especially the Mexican mole mix. Norma Garza, my opera-singing BFF who knows about such things (La Paloma in Austin had the best mole last time I consulted Norma), would be, I think, impressed with my culinary acumen to have prepped such a succulent sauce.

Hey, cheating is okay if the ingredients you are playing with are the real deal.  At this stage of the game I abide by having someone else do the pulverizing for me. Thank you. Frontier! Can’t wait to try the turkey brine blend: I’ll bring the bird.

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