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 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.
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.