• Posted by Califia Suntree on October 14th, 2011, 5:43 PM

    Where I live, early fall is the season of lumpy, oddly shaped, strangely colored last-hurrah tomatoes. They aren’t as vibrantly flavored as the height-of-summer fruits, but they do ease the transition into cooler weather and darkening days. Our fall tomatoes were all yellow (or yellowish), and not quite suitable for slicing into a salad. But they did make an excellent fresh tomato sauce, with a bit of oregano, perfect for serving with seasonally appropriate mushroom ravioli. Here’s how I made it:

    Crush or finely mince garlic and saute it in some olive oil in a wide, non-reactive pan. Just when it starts getting aromatic, toss in some crushed dried or minced fresh oregano. Using a food mill, grind your fresh yellow tomatoes into the pan and simmer until the flavors meld. Season with salt and, if your tomatoes lack acidity (ours did), squeeze a bit of lemon juice overall. (A friend recommends lemon zest, which I haven’t tried.) Toss with pasta and enjoy the lingering taste of summer!

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on May 10th, 2011, 8:20 AM

    It’s time to plant tomatoes people! To inspire you, here’s an excerpt from today’s Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor:

    May 10, 2011

    It was on this day in 1893 that the Supreme Court ruled that the tomato was a vegetable, not a fruit. Their ruling was in light of a 10-year-old piece of legislation called the Tariff Act of 1883, which ruled that a 10 percent tax had to be paid on all imported vegetables. The case, known as Nix vs. Hedden, was filed by John Nix and several other tomato importers against Edward Hedden, the Collector of Customs at the Port of New York. The case wound up in the Supreme Court, where Webster’s Dictionary was heavily cited. The plaintiffs argued that according to the dictionary definition of fruit — the structure that grows from the flower of the plant and holds the seeds — a tomato was a fruit. They called two witnesses, both of whom heard Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on July 6th, 2010, 1:37 PM

    Summer is my favorite food season. I know, I know–I just said that spring was my favorite. But I was just caught up in the lamb and peas and fava beans. I’ve also repeatedly claimed the fall as my favorite–all that squash, and pie!–and winter, since I love pot roast and potatoes. But in summer, we grow our own bounty chez moi, and there’s just nothing can beat that.

    One of our annual harvests is the olallieberry, which winds delicately around our patio and every year gives us just enough berries to top our cereal or desserts. (An almond-milk blancmange I recently concocted was a natural fit.) I was first introduced to olallieberries when I was a kid and spent summers in Santa Cruz. We made a pilgrimage most Julys to Phipps Farm in Pescadero, CA, where we ate and picked our way through the day, and then went home purple-faced to stuff our freezer full of berries for the year to come. Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on March 19th, 2009, 5:52 PM

    The Victory Garden is back! For all the ups and downs of Obama’s first two months–this is a happy development. They may not be planting the grand plot that Michael Pollan envisioned for the first family (enough to supply DC’s food banks), but I will take this as a good sign. Of course, it could also be a signal to the citizens that we should also start growing our own food….for the coming economic apocalypse.

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