All right. Here it is September 3, and yesterday the weather was so sweltering and humid that by mid-afternoon all I could hold in my mind was the next chore on my list—I just couldn’t think ahead—and it was so freaking hot that from time to time I had to wipe my sweating face with a cool wash cloth.
Oh fall, where art thou? The leaves are starting to change, the apples are turning red, the goldenrod and asters are in bloom. It is dark by 8 p.m. But somehow, the weather doesn’t have enough sense to turn the page and follow the season. Temperature wise, despite all the signs of fall, we are in mid-summer.
To a lifelong Mainer, is this very, very weird? You’d better believe it.
But the larger problem, of course, is what to make for supper on a day when by late afternoon all you want to do is grab some ice water with lime, The New Yorker, and an apple and head to the patio. Supper is the last thing you want to think about.
Fortunately, I have a few tricks to fall back on, and one of them is an easy pasta sauce using a 28-ounce can of Muir Glen’s crushed tomatoes with basil, some garlic, some green peppers, and some summer squash. Add, say, tortellini and broiled olive-oil toast, and you have a pretty good meal that comes together in a flash. (Especially when you have made said sauce a week or two before and have frozen some of it for future use. Oh, happy freezer!)
But even if you haven’t, this sauce is so easy to make—and like most of the food I cook—so versatile that even on a hot day it isn’t too much trouble. I used garlic, peppers, and summer squash. You could use onion, sausage, or ground beef. Or zucchini. Or eggplant. Or whatever combination you like.
Get all the vegetables ready. For my sauce, I minced three cloves of garlic and cut one green pepper and one small summer squash in large chunks. In a skillet, I heated one tablespoon of olive oil and added the squash and peppers, sautéing them until they were just barely soft. I added the garlic and sautéed it for 30 seconds or so. Last came the tomatoes with basil. I turned the heat to low, covered the skillet, and let everything simmer for at least forty-five minutes.
Add cooked pasta, and Voilà. Supper on a hot night.
Clif and I took our plates out to the patio. A bottle of white wine came with us. As the dark settled over the backyard, we heard the crickets sing. In the dim woods, a pair of barred owls called to each other as they hunted, and Clif and I smiled as we listened to them.
After that nice supper and a couple of glasses of wine, well, the hot day didn’t seem so bad.
Nevertheless, fall can come anytime now. We are certainly ready.