It’s tomato time.
We wait all year for real tomatoes — the ones that smell like tomatoes from 10 feet away, the ones that squelch on the teeth, the ones that make you sigh with happiness at all that taste — and now it’s time. Yesterday, we found these waiting at the stand of one of our favorite farmers on Vashon. We all sort of giggled. Look at them — funky shapes you never see in the grocery store, all that red.
These days, we eat all the tomatoes we can, at every meal. And it all feels like splendid decadence. In a month or so, the tomatoes will feel like fond memories. Come January, it will be as though we never ate them. Unless we put some by right now.
When I spoke with my friend Jennie the other night, she told me about the tomato jam she’s making. Deeply grieving, she’s still making food. It’s how she goes on. Yesterday, she and her girls left for two weeks to a beach cottage that she and Mikey have rented at the end of August for years. She wavered about it this year but she went for her girls.
Late at night her time — as you can imagine, she’s not sleeping much — we talked. Thankfully, I’m three hours earlier than her, so I can talk with her when she’s pacing around the apartment at 1 or 2 in the morning. We make each other laugh, somehow. And cry.
She told me, as she packed, that three of the bags she was taking were for the kitchen. Of course. “And I’m bringing everything I can to make my tomato jam.” Jennie’s tomato jam is sweet and savory both, perfect for sandwiches and that rush of late-summer intensity in the middle of winter. When I told her that I’d be upset if she didn’t bring all her canning stuff, since that’s who she is, she said, “Look, this is still going to be awful in January. It would be worse if I didn’t have my tomato jam.”
She inspires me, this one. She’s preparing for the bleak winter, in the midst of the bleakest time of her life.
Many of us have been moved to tears by the loss of Jennifer Perillo’s darling husband, Mikey. The outpouring of love from the foodblogging community these past 10 days has astonished us all.
Now, we want to be moved to action.
As you can imagine, Jennie is overwhelmed not only by her grief, and the sudden responsibility of raising two children by herself, but she is also struggling with this financially. She just learned that she cannot collect widow’s benefits from Social Security because she earns too much money each year. The health insurance for her and her kids runs out in December and she just learned that the total she will have to pay will be more than her mortgage. It’s possible she’ll have to pay off the entire mortgage in one lump sum because the apartment was in his name alone. And more than anything, Mikey wanted Jennie to continue living her dream of being a food writer. And he wanted to make sure his kids were taken care of well. That’s why he worked as hard as he did. So we want to help. And we hope you want to help too.
If you would like to donate to A Fund for Jennie, please click on this Bloggers Without Borders button. It will take you straight to the PayPal account.
Please give as much as you can, if you want. Every dollar really does count.
In addition, a number of food bloggers across the country are auctioning off services or items that are dear to their hearts.
We encouraged all the folks involved to give something they love, with love. Over this next week, you’re bound to see a lot of beautiful offerings.
Danny and I want to give something too, of course.
GLUTEN-FREE PRIVATE DINNER PARTY FOR SIX
Danny and I will come to your home, bring all the food, and make you what we hope will be one of the best meals of your life.
We will work with you to determined your favorite foods as well as any intolerances or food allergies. And then we’ll make you dinner and dessert in five courses.
Naturally, we’d need to work with people who are in our area. If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, we can come to you.
However, if you are willing to travel to our area for this, we will find a space and make it work.
(Claiming of service or good is based on availability and has a “good for six months/one year” caveat.)
We’re going to start the bidding at $200.
(I’m scheduling this post as I will be away much of the day on Monday. For now, leave your bids as comments on this post. If that doesn’t seem to working, we’ll shift to something else tomorrow night.)
If you would like to auction something on your own site, please email me at email@example.com. I’ll send you a one-sheet on how best to do this. And thank you.
Thank you, everyone. This feels like an enormous gathering, filled with love and kindness. (And good food.)
We just want to make sure that Jennie can enjoy that tomato jam in January.
Yesterday, I chopped tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and fresh basil. I threw them in a big pan with honey, balsamic, and lemon juice. A pinch of salt. This was me playing with Jennie’s recipe.
Well, it didn’t work out, since I changed so much. (Was it the honey instead of the sugar?) And I forgot the green apple, which was her slice of genius. Apple has plenty of pectin to tighten up that jam.
This was, however, the best tomato sauce Lu and I have ever eaten on our pasta.
If you want to learn how to make tomato jam from the master, go here.