"I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,...
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!"
October - and the time is growing short for harvesting. The squash runners are valiantly still sending out leaves and even fruits; but they will not mature. The peppers are setting flowers madly - all in vain, as the time for frost is coming closer. The basil sits stoically, as if aware that it will be the first to succumb. I have harvested all the tomatoes - blight has once again cut the season short. Only a few cherry tomatoes are continuing to produce fruit. Each year, we wait forever (it seems) for that first ripe tomato, and all of a sudden, it's over. The last few weeks have been an unending stream of making sauce, juice, salsa, relish and more from the bushels of tomatoes. The canning supplies stay on the counter - it's too much trouble to put them away when I use them every other day or so. One of my favorite jellies - Five Pepper Jelly - has been made, and I'm thinking of making another batch.
The heirloom tomatoes have once again been a mixed bag. Pruden's Purple (my must have tomato) was a good producer again. Giant Belgium Pink, Pink Ponderosa, Amana Orange (HUGE), Black Brandywine, and Japanese Black Trifele were the stars this year. Japanes Black Trifele was a great tomato, juicy, the earliest, and still producing when others had pooped out. It has an odd shape, and is a little small, but it makes up for its shortcomings in taste. Firm, and not a lot of seeds. Blue Beech Paste was the paste tomato extraordinaire - 7"-8" tomatoes, no blossom end rot, and yielding well over the summer. Disappointments were Pineapple (one of my favorites last year) and Kellogg's Breakfast (always a winner until this year). I did purchase seeds from a differnt supplier, though, so I will try growing them again. Humoungous Mong (what a name) had some of the smallest tomatoes, and they were supposed to be huge.
So what to do with all the tomatoes at the end of their run? Some are pretty tired looking, have soft spots or cracks, and are not the same as those from the height of the season. My friend, Lucille Dressler, from The Herb Society, concocted the following delightful, refreshing tomato soup. She wanted to use up tomatoes from her garden, and she came up with a winning combination. I love gazpacho, but it always seems like a lot of work. This recipe is super easy, and with the addition of some more herbs, it is now a favorite of mine. It is a cold soup, so you want to make some now and enjoy the last warm days of summer.
LUCILLE'S TOMATO SOUP
5-6 cups ripe, cut up tomatoes (bite size - I used several different kinds, giving this soup great visual appeal)
1/2 seedless cucmber, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cans low sodium beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used Purple basil white wine vinegar I had made earlier this summer)
4-5 lovage stems and leaves, finely chopped
15+ garlic chive leaves, chopped
20+ basil leaves, chopped
8 salad burnet stems, leaves stripped and stems discarded
Mix the tomatoes, cucumber and onion in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the broth, vinegar, and herbs, and mix well. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.
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