School is back in session. Routines restored, and this morning, a nip in the air. Fall is on its way. And, that makes me happy. No end of summer blues for me. I’ve got snow in my sights. Yet, I am not rushing this spectacular season. Before I drag out the snow boots and snow shovel, I am preserving summer’s gifts, walking the beaches of Scarborough and walking round and round my favorite haunt — Back Cove. Here, I am drawn to the Great Egret. I never tire of watching these lovely birds. The marshy cove is a feeding ground for the regal creatures, which at first glance can be taken for a more pedestrian (but still fantastic in its own way) seagull. The birds wade in the shallow water and spear fish and other small aquatic animals with their long yellow beaks. In the late 1800s, these elegant birds and their equally attractive cousins, the snowy egrets, were headed toward extinction as the fashion industry’s demand for their wavy, brilliant white plumage led to their violent and rapid decline. The word, egret, is derived from the French word, aigrette, which means ‘ornamental tufts of plumes.’
The long-legged birds rebounded when Boston socialites banded together to protect these and other endangered birds, effectively starting the first Audubon Society, which led to the creation of the National Audubon Society. That’s their story in a nutshell. Read in more detail about their saviors here.
This summer was on the cool and wet side, but the heat came back in late August and early September. My tomatoes needed that last burst of sun to ripen fully. I have gone the quick-preserve route when it comes to tomatoes, freezing cherry tomatoes whole and using my other tomatoes to make quick sauces that I pour into ziploc bags and layer in stacks in the freezer. The tomato jam takes a bit longer. It’s a simmer-on-the-stove recipe, so make it when you have a few hours around the house.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
10 cups coarsely chopped, seeded tomatoes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Combine sugar, vinegar and water in a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and mixture looks syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and salt.
2. Simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Stir it occasionally, and season with salt.
- After the fact, I realized that making this sweet and spicy would have been the ticket. Add red chile flakes (1-2 tsp), while simmering, if you are so inclined.
- The jam will last in the refrigerator for about 2 months.
- Use it on egg sandwiches, cheese and crackers, or liven up a soup or tomato sauce with a dollop.
- I used a combination of paste, heirloom and slicer tomatoes, and it came out delicious. So, experiment.