Monday, September 29, 2014

HOW

when you cross the street, even when you're alone, you reach back to take a child's hand.

How when you slam on the brakes, your right arm flies up to protect a little front seat passenger. Even when he's sitting in the back. Even when he's not in the car.

How before you pour boiling water through the coffee filter, you look over your shoulder to make sure all creatures are at least six feet back.

How every homeless person is someone's lost child.

How through the mundane movements of every meal, every load of laundry, every trip to the market, a piece of you is drifting back to their births and forward to their deaths.

How parenting feels like a fucking crap shoot.

How you practice looking into each other's eyes, interlacing fingers, squeezing hands together like they're superglued.

How you remind him that he can control his body. He can listen. He can sit still. He can even change.

You can't learn to fly, mom.

How your breath deepens.

You can't learn to vomit every second of every day.

How you start to laugh.

How you will never ever tell him how much you love him because it would feel like too much of a burden.

How, instead, you start yammering about how you left tomatoes to slow-cook in the oven all day.

How he rolls his eyes with indifference.

How his face lights up when he sees them after school, neon and glistening on the sheet pan.

How he tells you you're the best cook in the world.

How you take this with a grain of salt.

How you ask him to repeat it. Again. And again. And again.
I know it's the tail end of the season, but I've asked around and I hear that there are a few tomatoes left out there in the world. Here is something to do with those stragglers.

There is something very gratifying about throwing food into the oven in the morning and retrieving it at the end of the day. But I would be lying if I told you I had a recipe for these slow-cooked tomatoes.

Just do this: Preheat your oven to a very low temperature. Maybe 200°F. Unless your sheet pan is pristine and perfect and nonstick, line it with a Silpat or parchment paper. Halve some cherry tomatoes and place them on the sheet pan. It's okay if they're from the back of your fridge and all sad and smushed. Stem and thickly slice some whole tomatoes (at least 1/2 inch thick or they will melt away). Add to the sheet pan. Pour about a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into a bowl. With a pastry brush, paint the tomatoes with a light slick of oil. Take a pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle it over the tomatoes, evenly coating, moving your fingers the whole time until the salt is dispersed. Repeat with more salt until all tomatoes have been lightly touched. Do the same with granulated sugar. Flip the tomatoes over. Repeat steps  Slide sheet pan into the oven. Check after 2 hours. If you're leaving the house, turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes to coast until the evening. If you're sticking around, check them every 30 minutes or so. I find that they are best when shriveled up but not dry. Keep tasting. You will know when they are right.

Where to put these goodies: Store in a jar as is. Or, tuck thinly sliced garlic in amongst the tomatoes and drown everything in olive oil. Throughout the week, pull out tomatoes for sandwiches, pastas, and omelets. Bella eats them on her mac and cheese. I eat them in arugula salad with avocado. Throw them in everything. Or freeze in a jar until deep December when you're desperate for some summer brightness.

15 comments:

  1. I love doing this with tomatoes at precisely this time of year. I plan to do some more this week if I can find tomatoes at the market on Wednesday.

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  2. Some deep, beautiful and painful truths here, Phyllis.

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  3. I love your beautiful poem. All of it is so true!

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  4. It feels like I know you when I read your words. Thank you.

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  5. I just love your whole thing, lady. xo

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  6. Yes, yes, yes. To the overwhelming love I feel for my kiddos, to the hand jutting out to hold back a child (even though the front seat is empty), to the awesomeness of slow roasted tomatoes. You nailed it once again, dude.
    xoxox
    E

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  7. Somehow although your kids may be adults for many years, those unbidden responses remain.
    My son told me, when in his 30's, that I'd been a "good enough" mother. Whew

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  8. These look fantastic and so delicious. And I love the way you write about your family and really just everything.

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  9. Phyllis, It's always a pleasure to read your writing. To nod in agreement with your sentiments, laugh out loud at the funny shit, swallow back the tears at the hard truths, and drool in hunger at your pictures. You have inspired me to go mix those tomatoes that have been hanging out on my counter with some olive oil, salt and thyme and stick them in the oven. Actually I'm gonna try the dehydrator.

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    1. you help me move forward to the next story. thank you! and i think i need a dehydrator.

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  10. I savor every word you write. I hold your new post aside until I can sit down and enjoy it fully, and then I read it again. Thank you.

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    1. oh wow that is so amazing to hear. thank you.

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  11. How I come here because of the atmosphere of your kitchen, the wild love you throw down on the page!

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