Sunday, August 5, 2012

When Not to Cook

This weekend, the Pacific Northwest hit 100 degrees for the first time this year. And I didn't cook. Part of the reason was that I went up to Seattle, and got cooked for by my mom (I know, be mad jealous). But the other was, it felt too hot to think about food, or want much of anything heavy.

The beautiful part of that conundrum (kinda hungry, totally hot, completely lethargic) is all of the ready-to-eat bounty slumping plump from the vines. Tomatoes, zucchini, cherries, apricots, peaches--the heat lasts only a few weeks tops, and so does the peak of the garden jewels, but at least they break together in a perfect natural moment.

While I was in Seattle I went to Metropolitan Market (like I almost always do), and they had all of the produce prizes in these cute little wooden baskets. I couldn't leave without a basket of sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes! Even though the sign said they were grown in Oregon, which probably means they were transported up to Tacoma's Proctor District from about a mile away from our house. The tomatoes in my own garden haven't quite yet popped. I figured they would work into just about everything I could make this week, including a roasted tomato and chicken dish from this month's Bon Appetit (stay tuned!).

This afternoon, when I got home, I sort-of unpacked. I took a nap. I didn't feel like touching the oven. So, when the Burgerville lunch I picked up wore off later in the evening, I used the cool, simple ingredients I had hanging around: tomatoes, a fat cucumber from the garden, and a can of delicious chunky tuna from the pantry. The result was tuna salad on pitas with hummus and cucumber dips.

Maybe it was the heat-induced insanity talking, but this was divine. The tomatoes were divine, and tasted like candies. The tuna salad was cool and tangy, spiked with the last of our bread and butter pickles from last summer. Next week will be time to can pickles again, as the steps and cycles of summer continue. We just seem a few steps closer to the earth this time of year. I love every moment of it.

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