Mid-September is upon us, and Clif and I are thinking about putting up the screens and pulling down the storm windows. Already, we’ve been spot heating, something you can do easily with electric heat, one of our heat sources. Summer is pretty much over, and my lunches on the patio are numbered. I’ve resigned myself to a cold house and colder weather. After all, I live in Maine, not San Diego. I know I need to buck up and bundle up, which I am doing.
Still, despite the colder weather, there are many things to look forward to in September and October: weekend bike rides if the weather allows; apples and apple pie, which I love to make; walks on the beach when we visit Shannon and Mike in South Portland; tomatoes (more about them later); and more time to read Victorian novels.
Not long ago, a friend and I decided to form a Victorian book club of two via email. (My friend lives out of state, and we met at a Franco artists gathering, where we discovered we both loved Dickens.) We started with Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, which I thought was brilliant. Hardy took a hard, deeply flawed man—the mayor—and made him so sympathetic that I actually cried at the end. We are now reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which is not as well written as The Mayor, but is still very much worth reading. Again, Margaret, the main character, is flawed—although not as deeply as the mayor—-and like the mayor she is achingly human and therefore a sympathetic character. Next we will be reading The Warden by Anthony Trollope, and I am looking forward to this. Those Victorians knew how to tell a ripping good story that encourages a reader to read on and on when really she should be doing other things such as yard work, housework, or her own writing. At the same time, the Victorian novelists had something to say, larger points to make along with their ripping good stories, and modern writers certainly could learn some things—pacing and compelling characters—from the Victorians.
Now back to tomatoes. The tomatoes, which were in the doldrums because of the cool, rainy weather we had this summer, have now come into their own, and this is definitely a case of better late than never. Oh, how I love tomatoes, and every day I have one along with whatever else I am eating for lunch. Winter tomatoes are not very good, and I am gorging on fresh tomatoes now while I can.
Yesterday, as I was perusing a few recipes on Yahoo, I came across a simple suggestion for using tomatoes, so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself as it combines some of my favorite things. In fact, this recipe is so basic that it would make Michael Pollan, that advocate of simple eating, whoop with joy. As the title of this post suggests, this recipe includes a chopped hard-cooked egg, a chopped tomato (half or so of a small one), a splash or two of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Combine everything in a bowl and use the mixture on top of either toasted pita or toasted bread.
After reading this suggestion, I decided to make it for my lunch, and the results were so good that I will be making it not only today but throughout the month, as long as there are fresh tomatoes.
Apples, fresh tomatoes, and Victorian novels all come together to take the sting out of fall and encroaching winter.