Those early girls, they get me every time.
Those sweet young firmed-skinned beauties, blushing with the deepest blood-red fluids
that issue forth from their skin.
Punctuating and protecting a burst of seed and flavors that take me to the early taste of spring entranced with hints of late summer.
Their tasty tentacles embrace my culinary imagination.
But I digress…
Every year dry farm tomatoes come to me through stores or friends with fields. I have purchased boxes just for this primordial burst of sharing.
I have been and am most recently enslaved again by these early girls.
In this year of petulance, friendship and gratitude, I have had the great pleasure of receiving all of the early girls I could ever want! Mark Lipson, one of the founders of Molino Creek and the originators of the dry-farm method, has sought refuge here after the fires that almost destroyed the farm.
These dry farmed tomatoes survived the inferno that destroyed homes and ancient trees. Now boxes are picked and delivered amongst the ashes.
I am beyond repair! Wrought asunder, plundered, shaken to my seedy core. It has driven me to great depths of pleasure and heights of saucy despair.
When I see them:
I do not hold them lightly
I only squeeze them slightly
To determine which direction they must go
To the saucepan or the drier
Gazpacho or the fryer
My hungry mouth is their ultimate goal!
My gazpacho recipe is pretty simple.
I pluck the softest of the tomatoes, gut and grind them finely in the processor. I slice the firmies into this seedy background of juice. Elongated cucumbers and blocky red golden peppers are chopped and hazarded into the smallest of bits. Even tinier morsels of sweet onion and rouge garlic cloves are dashed with a wager of Worcestershire, lemon and horseradish. Salt and pepper to taste.
You can assemble these basic ingredients finely to resemble a soup. Or in bigger morsels, so the dish requires some molar crunch and action. It’s all about how finely you choose to cut, chop or blend them.
Texture and seasoning are the basic wild cards. One must set the entire concoction to chill for a few hours because the longer gazpacho sits, the more its flavors intermingle into maturity.
Once I set forth with the basic recipe, I can get a little racy and start experimenting. For one variation, I add cayenne, lime, cumin and oregano. Basil, cilantro, chives or parsley also serve as good herbal companions. Then throwing caution to the wind, I shake in a little Sriracha sauce, black olives and avocado, oh my!
Each variation is a reflection of my mood: do I feel calm and smooth with every ingredient finely blended and awash with red wine balsamic, or do I feel daring and spicy, sporting up jalapeños and mangoes? The deviations are endless and absolutely delicious!
I am heartened that the season is at hand and almost over. So this early girl fixation and flirtation – this fever and vexation – may soon depart with the cooling of the air and the tilt of the earth.
Until they take hold again next summer!
Those naughty girls! Goddess help and bless me for their flavor.
Recovering from fires should not go unnoticed nor unfunded.
Elizabeth Birnbaum set up a Gofundme site for Mark Lipson to help restore his home’s infrastructure, repair the domestic water and firefighting supply, remove the 500 tons of Douglas Fir tree that came down in the front yard, and much more.
The layers of crisis are real and very dire, but we can help lighten the load.
Did you know that Mark is one of the original founders of the organic movement we have today? He was California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) first paid employee and has many other professional and community accomplishments, including USDA Organic Policy Director. He has been a Partner at Molino Creek Farm since 1983.
Mark has done so much for the organic sector and his earth-connected community.
Now it’s our turn to show him how much we care. Click here to access Marks GoFundMe Recovery.