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Welcome to Weekend Wanderer, a blog celebrating the well-lived weekend.

Summer in a Jar

Summer in a Jar

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I am well aware that there are places where the concept of Endless Summer is a reality. In fact, the allure of Southern California's year-round weather reports of 75 and sunny has been the tipping point of many an existential crisis for yours truly. But, here on the east coast--and in most of the world--the hot days and warm nights of summer are quickly fading and soon enough will be nothing more than memories we revisit while walking the streets in boots and coats or lamenting our pale reflections in the mirror. How's that for uplifting?

Even as the days get shorter and nights a little chillier, we still have a few weeks left of killer summer produce and I plan on eating as many heirloom tomatoes, spicy radishes, and summer squash as I can before the farm stands dry up. And, this year, I'm taking things a step farther by using all of this beautiful (and cheap!) local produce to make jams and sauces that will keep in the fridge or freezer long into sweater weather. Maybe on one of those bleak, snowy days when the sun has set at 5pm and I've been forced to bundle myself into immobility,  I'll come home, spread some tomato jam on piece of toasted baguette and will be warmed by the memory of the the night in early September that I spent cooking down a pot of heirloom tomatoes until my apartment felt like a boiler room. Or maybe I'll defrost a portion of pesto to toss with hot linguine and parmesan and I'll be transported back to cutting armloads of basil from my mom's vegetable garden on a scorching day in July. I like to think that the taste of summer will allow to me escape the winter doldrums with a little mental journey back to the summer months, when life was easy and coats were just things that you'd left at the dry cleaner for way too long.

In reality, I'll probably be eating my summer preserves in the dead of winter, feeling bitter about the fact that I had to wear a hat all day because my office was cold, or that I've had to buy new makeup to match my translucent winter skin, or that I'm getting nosebleeds from the dry heat in my building. Between bites of tomato jam grilled cheese, I'll be frantically searching flights to Mexico or Jamaica or freakin' Tampa, I don't care, spiraling towards an all-too-familiar moment of panic as to WHY exactly I've chosen to live in this Arctic hell hole instead of some warmer slice of heaven like LA or Austin! But one thing I do know, is that regardless of the terms of my winter-inspired breakdown, whatever little taste of summer I'm eating will be totally delicious. 

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Classic Pesto

Recipe from Evan Cavenaugh, aka my aunt!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups firmly packed basil

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup olive oil

Directions

Put first five ingredients (i.e. everything but the olive oil) in a food processor and process until smooth. Next, with the food processor running, pour in the olive oil in a slow stream. Blend until all ingredients are combined.

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Tomato Almond Pesto

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Gourmet)

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups firmly packed basil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan 
1 /2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup olive oil

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are in coarse pieces. (“The size of orzo,” the original recipe suggests.) Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.

Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground black pepper.

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Heirloom Tomato Jam

Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen

3 pounds red heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Hull and cut the tomatoes into a rough dice. If you’re using heirloom tomatoes, be sure to cut off any tough, brown spots that might be on their skin. Transfer the chopped tomatoes to a non-reactive medium pot, along with the brown sugar, salt and red wine vinegar. Place the uncovered pot over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer; cook for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute-mark add the dried thyme and mix. Cook for an additional 25 to 30 more minutes and until the mixture is thick. If you’re using more or less tomatoes, the cook time will definitely vary.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. Tomato jam will be good for two weeks without canning.

West Coast Weekending

West Coast Weekending

 Tumbleweed Tuesday: A Farewell to Summer

Tumbleweed Tuesday: A Farewell to Summer