Remaking Christine

42, jobless, standing in the kitchen

Cheap August eats: Tomato toast

If you’re invited to belly up to the Rudalevige dinner table anytime soon, you might want to think twice about accepting, maybe you can pull out that sick aunt of yours in Seattle so my feelings won’t be hurt. You see, we’ve been forced to take up post-vacation austerity measures and while we can bask in the glory of the harvest season for I bit, I don’t expect that it’s going to be a pretty table for very much longer.

After wining and dining with friends from the UK in and around northeast for a little over two weeks, the cash reserves are lower than Mr. Fiscal, my financial better half, deems comforting.  At one particularly luxurious meal taken while overlooking Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, he leaned into me and whispered “Enjoy this now, because we may not be able to afford to eat in September.”

I sipped my second glass of the 20-year-old tawny port in comfort, secure in the knowledge that we were already the proud owners of:

a.) one fairlybig, pantry stuffed with lots of this and bits of that left over from recipes tried some successfully, some not;

This pantry could use a bit of weeding, actually.

b.)  two freezers really full of frozen meats (some of them self cured by my dabblings in charcuterie), soups, nuts and lots and lots berries; and,

It's a good thing there is plenty of homemade Limoncello (thanks to my friend Chris!) in here to get us through the lean times.

c.)  a bi-monthly CSA box that will arrive through early November, all of which are paid for in full. 

My CSA box is actually a bag -- one I picked up at a market in Florence about eight years ago -- that I fill up with my fair share from the Dickinson College Farm every other Friday.

We’ll just bypass the grocery stores for the most part, buying only dairy products, some bread, and of course, a little bit of chocolate.

I know, I know.  Don’t cry for me Argentina, I am supposed to be a good cook.  We’ve got all we wanted.  That’s not too much to ask for…

But the trick to this whole exercise will be matching the whims of my 10-year-old who needs a bit of fattening up (and therefore has to like what’s on the table) and the whinge-ing of my 13-year-old bottomless pit (who will eat a pound of pasta in a sitting and stare at your portion to see if you’re going to consume it all) with what I’ve got on hand.

Well, it’s August in Pennsylvania so what I’ve got is tomatoes.  We’ve sauced them, sliced them and roasted them.  Panzanella-ed them, processed them whole, and mid-night snacked them in the dark with only a sprinkle of salt.

And finally, finally, we’ve figured out how Eliza can have them for breakfast. She made a general announcement recently that she was “off” normal breakfast foods including scramble eggs, apples and peanut butter, nutella on crackers, hot cereal and cold pizza. ( Bacon is still acceptable, thank God, so I don’t have to disown her.) When I showed her a feature in the August/September issue of Fine Cooking on changing up your breakfast routine with out of the ordinary morning foods, she zoomed in on the tomato toast with olive oil. It’s simply a toasted piece of baguette (had one in the freezer) topped with a firm, ripe tomato (got 5lbs of those in our CSA distribution) that’s been grated on a box grater and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper (obviously, all in the pantry).

She’s not only eating this combination for breakfast, but also for dinner alongside pasta and for lunch topped with her newest pantry pal, tuna packed in oil.

We hit the jackpot on this one!


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