It's Our Jam
There is a brief moment in time when a tomato is just what a tomato should be. Its elements conspire to promote a remarkable thing, a precise cocktail of acids, sugars, color, and flavor designed to do nothing but please us, so that we want only to cherish the beautiful fruit in our hands and spread its seeds around and make as many more delicious tomatoes as possible.
-- Michael Amis
Tomato, tomahto, 'mater ... no matter how you say it, slice it, or eat it, there's no better harbinger of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer than that first bite into a red, ripe, juicy Jersey. It's our reward for making it through yet another dank and dreary East Coast winter. But now it's September and those gnarly green vines are almost done producing, and we're panicking a little about our immediate tomato-free future. Seems this has been a worry since at least 1840, when The American Farmer published a recipe involving boiling equal amounts of sugar and strained stewed tomatoes and -- voila! -- tomato jam was born.
This 19th-century concoction is ready for its new and updated close-up; The Inquirer
says it's already a thing
on the Jersey Shore scene, in fact. Fresher, subtler, and more versatile than ketchup, this gem of a jam can play an MVP supporting role as a spread on crackers or biscuits, as a dollop on grilled meat or chicken, or, yes, as a sub for that slippery slice in your sammy. From the no-frills original through heirloom family recipes
and on to modern twists
, and variations
, the basics of tomato jam are the same: tomatoes (with skin and seeds!), sugar, vinegar or lemon or lime juice for acidity, and your imagination.
The sky's apparently the limit on what you might add to create your own little schmear of heaven. A batch will keep in your fridge for close to a month or can be water-bath canned (if you know what you're doing) and kept far longer.
September Second Saturday Scenesters
Did you notice Neil's Sharpening Service above? That's right; he's on for this week.
Hooray, Bonnie's Wondergardens is back after a lengthy break! Bonnie picked a good (read: blistering) two months to sit out, but we'll be glad to see her, Rose, John, and all that color again.
Lynn and Will of Amazing Acres Goat Dairy are looking for goat cheese recipes to include in their no-doubt adorable 2017 calendar (a supposition based on the 2016 version). Lynn is a fine photographer with a great sense of humor, and you should definitely be following the farm on Facebook for her Cute Goat Wednesday posts. If you have a recipe you want to share (ie, would like to see emblazoned on a calendar), send it and a nice picture of the dish to them at email@example.com. They say thank you. They're polite like that.
Shorter, Beerier, Better
After a dozen years confined to the lovely but sometimes steamy Twentieth Century Club, the weekend-long Lansdowne Arts Festival has broken free of four walls, shaved off a day, and transformed, butterfly-like, into Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival, an open-air celebration of music, handiwork, food, and community. It's this Sunday, September 11, from noon to 6:00 pm, smack dab in the middle of Lansdowne Avenue, between Baltimore and LaCrosse. Missing it is not an option, literally.
Thirty-odd artists and artisans selling their creations, half a dozen musical acts doing their thing, a DJ spinnin' the hits, a Kids Zone entertaining the young'uns (including an instrument-making workshop and the opportunity to perform on stage with Minas at 5:00), book signings, and arts and crafts demos will fill the 6-hour event to overflowing. Local food establishments (The Avenue Deli, The Icery, and others) and food trucks will be offering eats, and the Conshohocken Brewing Company is setting up a beer garden in the lot between the Theater and the Avenue Deli. (We repeat: special place for kids and a beer garden. Parental prayers, answered.)
In short, there is absolutely no reason to leave Lansdowne on Sunday. And when you shut a chunk of the burg's majorest thoroughfare, traffic becomes a little more challenging, so if you can walk to the Fest, please walk. If you need to drive, park in the lot on Highland by the firehouse or on the street somewhere. It's supposed to be warm but not oppressive (which also perfectly describes Lansdowne's neighborliness). Grab some friends and head over. Buy some art, fold a few stars, have a beer and a bite, get your groove on, sit in the BIG CHAIR, make fond memories, and hashtag it all #ArtsOnAve.