Taken with Tomatoes

Tomatoes are out in full force. Tomatoes that are full of flavor, have ripened naturally and cost a dime a dozen (almost). Everywhere you look, they are being served up in a myriad of ways.

This past weekend at Big Summer Potluck, a food blogging retreat in Pennsylvania, we ate them sliced in a simple salad of tomato, red onion, feta cheese and olive oil. Fresh pepper and salt was the only condiment needed to finish off that simple salad.

On Friday, at New York City’s famous Clinton St. Bakery Company, I ate tomato jam on a buttermilk breakfast sandwich, a perfect accompaniment to a rich breakfast of eggs, bacon and cheese. I now can’t get the idea out of my head for homemade tomato jam. It was perfect.

I herald the arrival of the fresh summer tomatoes as enthusiastically as sundresses and bare feet. Like most produce, they are best enjoyed simply adorned. Here are a few more ideas for serving up tomatoes.

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Paella, Simple Summer Fare

Rising temperatures and backyard parties means – it’s paella time!

So often in the States we think of paella as a gourmet dish meant to be eaten on special occasions or when fine dining. In reality, a paella in Spain is a casual meal eaten outdoors, served at summer festivals and enjoyed as simple midweek meals.

The paella originated in the countryside of Valencia, España, where rice fields were (and are) in abundance. Local farmers and peasants raised chickens, rabbits and collected snails.

After making a rich and nourishing broth, the rice and local meat were combined creating the first paella cooked over an open fire.

This simple peasant’s dish has since influenced the entire world and is now made in many different variations.

All photos by Diana Bauman

A real and traditional paella is made using only a few seasonal ingredients and meant to highlight the rice. The rice is really what makes a paella.

As long as you have a good quality rice and a few other ingredients, you’ll be on your way to an amazing rice dish.

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Mid-Summer Update and an Announcement!

UPDATE: Thank you all SO much for the kind well wishes! I’m truly touched and appreciate all your comments. Thanks!

A funny thing happened last week. I received my favorite cooking magazine in the mail and when I flipped through it, not one thing looked good, not even the sky-high meringue pie on the cover.

Then on Monday, I was making the weekly menu plan and strangely enough, could not come up with any meals that sounded appetizing. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was hungry.

What’s up? Why the lack of interest in food? Well, you can probably guess – we’re pregnant!

Danny, Noah, Mateo and I are very excited to welcome a new member into the family sometime in early 2012. I’m feeling exceedingly blessed, as we’ve been hoping and praying for this gift, and the timing seems to be really right.

Of course, I’m a little terrified to be doing this all over again! However, there is plenty of time to wrap my head around this pregnancy, and still many months ahead to prepare for the arrival of a newborn.
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Lacto-Fermentation: A Healthier & More Sustainable Way to Preserve

This post was originally published on July 16, 2010. Written by Shannon of Nourishing Days.

In March we ate the last of 5 1/2 gallons of lacto-fermented vegetables. They stored for over six months in our refrigerator and I didn’t boil a single pot of water.

I think everyone should try lacto-fermentation for three reasons:

  1. The product is a living food, full of enzymes and probiotics.
  2. The process is much faster than waterbath or pressure canning.
  3. The process (and storage) can be done with zero energy usage.

A healthier product in less time and with less energy usage? Yes please!

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Weekend Links