Well, here it is. That sensation, at once so familiar, yet almost forgotten, of being cold. It’s amazing how, when you live in a place with distinct seasons, you can be so insanely hot in the summer it’s almost like you’ll never be cold again. Until you are.

The leaves are falling in golden sunlight.  The windows are closed. I wrap my hands around my coffee mug and the warmth is comforting. And there you have it: Autumn is here, summer is gone.

This weekend I did a bunch of kitchen stuff while the fella finished replacing the trim on the house so we can start painting.

I baked sourdough, made and froze a batch of tomato paste, and started a ‘shrub.’

My first post-summer sourdough. My wild yeast starter has mellowed into a lovely, sophisticated flavor that it equally sweet and sour. I was worried when I took it out of the fridge to make the levain, because it smelled very fermented, but I love the results!

For the tomato paste, I pureed about 3 pounds of tomatoes – some from my garden, some from my neighbor’s, and some from my friend Megan’s. Once pureed, you can strain them to get out the skins and seeds, but my strainer was too fine and nothing but tomato water was getting through, so I decided my tomato paste would have to be ‘rustic.’

Then I sauteed one whole onion and about 5 cloves of garlic in olive oil on a low heat until they were very soft.

Then I added the tomato puree to the onions with a pinch of salt, and cooked off nearly all the liquid over a period of about 3 hours. As the paste thickened it got much darker in color and more fragrant. Then I froze it in an ice cube tray. 3 lbs of tomatoes filled just 1 tray after all that!

I had never heard of a shrub until Gina made some a few weeks ago. It’s sort of a vinegar fruit syrup you add to soda water, and it makes a super thirst-quenching beverage (also a delicious cocktail mixer!) so when my aunt brought over a bag of very ripe local peaches, I knew just what to do with them. This shrub was very easy: 4 lbs peaches, peeled and chopped, macerated in 1 cup sugar for two or three days. Then add 15 basil leaves and 1 cup white wine vinegar and refrigerate for another week. Then strain out the solids and keep the ‘shrub’ (the remaining liquid) in a glass jar in the fridge and it will keep for months and months. Yum!

 

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