By LYNNE IRONS
I love a rainy Saturday. Last week I trudged around in the vegetable garden in full rain gear. I picked several containers of food needing to be processed. I harvested the herbs (parsley, celery leaf, and basil) and a big basket of tomatoes, not to mention beets and cabbage. I then spent the day in the kitchen preparing everything. I watched Senator Kennedy’s funeral and gabbed on the phone.
Both the parsley and celery leaf were relatively easy. I picked through for imperfect leaves, dirt and/or insects. After a quick rinse and spin-dry I bagged and labelled for the freezer. They can be pulled midwinter and scrunched by hand still frozen into soups and sautés.
I was able to gather perfect paste tomatoes. My heirlooms not so much. I purchase the paste varieties form the Italian vegetable section of the Pinetree Garden seed catalog. I use roma, an excellent paste with a determinate vine that doesn’t require staking. A determinate tomato has a predetermined amount of fruit so should not be pruned. The indeterminates will go on producing endlessly if it didn’t freeze or they are not decimated by the tomato hornworm (yuck!). Another great determinate type which I have grown for years is Principe Borghese. This is the tomato used for sun-drying in Italy. It is similar in appearance to a cherry but more elongated. In Italy, they simply toss the vines holding the ripe tomatoes over a fence to dry in the sun. I think our climate is too humid so I either dry them, in the oven with just the pilot light or use them in sauce like any other paste type.
I also grow San Marzano Lampadina which is very tasty but is not disease resistant so often gets discarded. The shape is similar to a bell pepper.
On Saturday I made a sauce from scratch. I started with lamb sausage from Allen Farm and then oven-roasted the tomatoes long enough to slip the skins, caramelized a large amount of onion, chopped tons of basil and added everything to a pork/chicken stock that had cooked down to the consistency of gravy. I then purchased a pricey, multicolored bow-tie pasta from Fiddlehead Farm. Believe me, it doesn’t get any better.
One important addition to the August perennial border is Goldsturm Rudbeckia. It is positively neon on a cloudy day. I was walking in Edgartown last Friday morning. All of the verses of Faith of Our Fathers were chiming from the Federated Church. I passed a garden with phlox, the aforementioned rudbeckia and longwood blue caryopteris: simply breathtaking!
A big thank you to Terri Young of Cockleberry Farm. After reading about my cucumber failure she left a big bag of hers at my side door. I have been eating them, happily, for days. I was thinking how I could turn this column into a wish list, you know, like a need for cash, or green peppers?
One way to put a quick Band-Aid on an ailing late summer border is simply pulling the dead stalks and leaves of spent daylilies. It will make a huge difference. Someone just did it on West Spring street just before the big turn and now their fence border looks awesome.
I was a history and anthropology minor in college and have always loved those subjects. Thinking about those town hall meetings with all the angry disruptive behavior made me go back to the constitutional conventions in 1787. James Madison wrote a warning against the “violence of faction” that can threaten popular government. This faction, he wrote, can be citizens “whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” I guess shouting down others goes way back.
I have two words to describe the life and work of Edward M. Kennedy: Well done.