Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Complaints--nothing fresh tomato soup won't improve.

It's been awhile, and even so I should be a) drafting protocol for volunteer inspectors for the NWTA documentation-inspection brigade (not really called that, but ought to be); b) laying out the next issue of the NWTA publication I edit that should have gone out two weeks ago (but I'm always late and no one's counting...right?); or, c) any multitude of other projects, large (writing, volumes of writing) or small (cleaning kitchen). But honestly, sometimes the simple production of a little piece of written work can have much more weight of completion than finishing a task one is assigned to do.
In any case, it's been a pathetic sort of week--not enough to do at work to keep the real substance of challenge in the job, and too beautiful outside to ignore the fact that I'm stuck inside with too little to do. The great irony, of course, is that I have heaps of jobs to finish at home, but of course cannot do those at work. There's a quote my boss uses fairly often that describes the antithesis of my feelings of late: "I rise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and enjoy it. This makes it hard to plan my day." By contrast, I am stuck stewing over the fact that I can neither be productive nor simply enjoy. This, like the night, shall also pass.

Lest I sound too unproductive, I did make tomato sauce last night. Randy was out, so I put on my goofy little apron, turned up the Glenn Miller, had a Coke from a nostalgic little bottle, and boiled, chopped, and stewed tomatoes into sauce. It felt very 1940s Victory Garden. All that was missing were the Ball canning jars and the fear of botulism to truly complete the picture of "putting up my tomatoes." Roughly, the process:
1) Core tomatoes while you get a stockpot of water boiling. Have a bowl of ice water at the ready.
2) Place tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minue (until the skin splits or wrinkles). Remove (slotted spoon works nicely) and place in ice water for a minute or so. The skins will peel right off. Slice in half and squeeze out the seeds and juice.
3) Chop. It doesn't need to be pretty.
4) Since I wasn't canning, I just used ingredients that sounded tasty. (When canning, you have to be careful to keep the acidity at the right level, or the aforementioned botulism can develop.) I sauteed garlic (almost a whole head) in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then added about a cup of white wine and cooked most of it off. Then I threw in the tomatoes and some salt and pepper and cooked it down for about an hour. Spoon off extra juice to speed things up. Chopped a few leaves of basil and stir in at the end, but any herbs would do.
----Amazing discovery midway: I hate tomato soup. But as I spooned off some of the extra juices that were cooking out of the tomatoes, it smelled kinda good. So I tried it. Pretty darn good. Then I ate a bowl topped with garlic croutons and fresh-grated Parmesan cheese (two of the five things currently in my pathetic pantry). Flipping amazing. Never underestimate how much better real food can be than fake processed food.