The "dog days" of summer arrived with a vengeance this week, sending the mercury soaring and leaving me totally dependent on big fans and cold water. It's been the kind of week when you really wish you could just live on gallons and gallons of water or iced tea because you're just too hot and worn out to cook.
Of course, the heat has also brought on an explosion of produce at local farms, as seen in the farmers' market this morning, and fresh produce doesn't wait for anyone. So despite the promise of more heat this weekend, I scoured the market for lots of good produce to preserve for those days of frost and ice lurking around the calendar's corner... as well as the food I need to get me through the coming week.
I strolled around the square, visiting with friends and farmers and filling my basket and backpack with:
--two eggplants from the Fiddlin' Farmer;
--a small zucchini, a cucumber, broccoli, garlic, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and a small round watermelon from the Cheerful Lady and Handyman Joe;
--dried herb pasta from the Herb Lady;
--a loaf of focaccia from the local bakery;
--two pints of cherry tomatoes from a new farmer;
--Yukon Gold potatoes, a couple of tomatoes, and a purple pepper from the Potato Lady;
--a quart of maple syrup from Maple Man;
--okra, green beans, yellow cherry tomatoes, more tomatoes, mixed lettuces, and honey from the Gentleman Farmer's Family.
After shopping, I met Persephone at the pastry shop and enjoyed an iced coffee and relaxing conversation before heading home to put away most of my finds.
I left out the cherry tomatoes (of all colors) so that I could halve and seed them before tossing them with salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil for oven-drying.
That's right: in anticipation of another blisteringly hot day, what do I do? I turn on the oven (albeit at 200 F). I figure it's better than hovering over another pot of salsa and having the canner going at full-blast, casting steam well into the apartment. If I'm going to be hot, I might as well be productive, I suppose.
With any luck, it will be a little cooler when I'm ready to tackle the next batch of cooking projects (including making some spaghetti sauce to go in the freezer). After all, I'll have to do something with the rest of the tomatoes since I know I'll be buying plenty more next week, too.
The heat is definitely on, and there's no escape, so I'd better make the best of it.