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There are days that I wonder why it is that I choose to do what I do. There are days and then there are weeks. This was one of those weeks. It perfectly culminated in two things, a phone call where I actually couldn’t remember who I was calling or my own name since I had been on so many calls back-to-back this morning and then a short while later, when my phone rang, I couldn’t find it under all the papers on my desk. So, folks, I thought I’d share this little gem which just about sums it all up.
It happens to all of us at one time or another. We get knocked down, either figuratively or as more usual in my case, literally. I am really quite clumsy as those near and dear to my heart will confirm. I could go on at length to recount stories of this physical ineptness, but I diverge.
Here in this blog post we are discussing the figurative falling down. Last week almost exactly at this time, I had an interesting conversation with a company’s recruiter about a very interesting job possibility. It was exciting to have someone contact me, pretty much out of the blue, about an interesting opportunity that would meld my love of writing with my capabilities as an attorney. The weekend that followed was one that I haven’t had in a while, daydreams full of possibilities about what might be while working on some supplemental documentation that was requested from me. I have learned that I am not a lucky one in a lot of respects and therefore generally resign myself to the pessimistic side of my own abilities and capabilities, but I succumbed on this one and actually became more and more intrigued by what seemed a pretty real potential opportunity and ever so slightly, more excited about this possible new chapter.
Did it work out? Short answer, no. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But I did what a responsible adult that’s on the other side of the half-century mark would do (after my little emotional breakdown and pity party) and stood back up after that fall. I got up the next morning and did the job I have, not having the time to give much though to the remotely possible imaginary job I might have loved (or I might have hated). It was the stuff of daydreams and I had a great couple days imaging “what ifs” and feeling pretty flattered about being contacted at all. Lesson learned is that I was probably the most upset with myself that I let someone clear across the country have that kind of control over me and that I was that quick to fall. People don’t just get phone calls for potentially awesome job opportunities out of the blue that actually happen. At least not in my world.
If I were feeling optimistic, which I try to be, I would say that this means there is a better opportunity that awaits. Not sure I have gotten there yet. For now, I stood back up. That is enough.
This weekend’s project (which really did take most of the weekend) was to make tomato paste. I never tackled this before but seemed like it was a worthwhile project to use the overabundance of ripe Roma tomatoes that had suddenly appeared in the basement.
When they were predicting frost a few weeks back, I picked pretty much every single tomato that was left on the vine, most of them, sadly still green as anything. It always is such a pain to do pulling all the tomatoes, particularly when its usually last minute and freezing out, but it seems so wasteful to let these beautiful summer fruits just freeze on the vines. Hence, my basement is now filled with trays and trays of green tomatoes. The problem is that many of them decided to ripen simultaneously. So what does one do with a bounty of tomatoes? There are many things that you can do and I have done a lot of them, yet the tomatoes continue to ripen and beckon for someone to do something with them. This seemed the next logical step.
What is absolutely amazing to me is how concentrated it becomes. I started out with 10 lbs of Roma tomatoes, which is a lot of tomatoes for this batch of paste. I then split them in half, taking out the seeds and put them in a pot. Even split and cored, these tomatoes still filled a huge pot. The tomatoes boiled down for about an hour until they were soft. I then allowed them to cool and put them into the fridge overnight, for no other reason but my own schedule which did not permit me the time necessary for the next steps. The following day, I took those tomatoes out, put them through the food mill on a fine setting to get rid of the skins. I still ended up with a sauce pot full of cooked tomatoes. I added a couple teaspoons of kosher salt and allowed this to boil down for another hour or thereabouts until it was reduced by half. This mixtures was then spread onto a silicone sheet on a baking sheet (covering the whole sheet pan) and cooked for several hours — probably about 4-5 total at 200 degrees, stirring every 1/2 hour or so to keep it from burning until it was reduced down to a thick concentrated paste. This paste amounted to two tiny little jars of paste. But these are not just ordinary jars of paste, no sir, they are tiny little jars of summer. Summer concentrated and squeezed into half pint mason jars covered with a thin layer of olive oil.
They will now reside in my fridge and I will dip into them every time my cooking needs a little taste of summer. Covered with oil and refrigerated, they will last a year. Just in time to do it all again next summer.