Tomatoes and Life – Simple is Best

tomatoes08.31.13I love food.  I love to cook.  I love to research new dishes to make, better ways to make the ones I already make.  I pour over cookbooks and on-line recipes adding to my collection.  I spend a ton of time planning a weekly menu and waiting with baited breath for the email containing my weekly list of CSA items.  It is an obsession at times, making sure I use everything I get in the best possible way.

This week I looked at the counter in my kitchen with dismay.  I had a TON of tomatoes just sitting there and I was not sure what to do with them all.  My plans had gone awry since we ate out a ton this week due to someone’s 40′s birthday.  Usually, I’d just gobble them up in salads and roast a bunch in the oven to freeze for later.  For some reason I hit a brick wall and could not figure out what to do with them all.  It stressed me out, kept me awake.  Tomatoes stressed me out, yes tomatoes.  I was a crazy person.

As I was searching for the perfect way to use up the tomatoes, I came across an article on CHOW about using up your tomatoes.  Apparently, I was not the only one with this issue although the commenters seemed to have a handle on their issue.  A commenter mentioned that she sliced up a beautiful tomato, slathered some really good mayo on some sinful white bread and ate it…standing over the sink elbows spread wide so that the juice from the tomatoes would drip only down her chin and into the sink instead of down her arms.  It sounded amazing and as much as I love tomatoes, I had never indulged in a tomato sandwich, not once.

As soon as I got in the door from the office (no, I was not looking up recipes at work, nope not me), I went straight to the kitchen.  I mean I do everyday, but this time I was on a mission just for me.  I grabbed a beautiful, ripe, practically bursting tomato.  First I smelled it.  Summer.  It still smelled a little like the vine and just a ton of tomato.  I got my tomato knife…yes, I have a tomato knife… and sliced the tomato thin watching the juice start to run into the indents in the cutting board, then dusted the slices with fine fresh ground salt.  I slathered some mayo on two slices of very not gluten-free Italian bread.  Tomatoes were placed on one slice of the bread and sandwiched with a little squish from the palm of my hand to get the juice started in soaking into the soft loaf.  I ate it over the sink, elbows wide, smiled and breathed a sigh of contentment and relief.  I kindly gave my body (yes it actually had an effect on my whole body, it was that good) about a minute to enjoy before I started berating myself for not thinking of this sooner.

It did not hit me until just now why I had not ever made myself a tomato sandwich.  It was simple.  No, that is the answer, it was simple.

I am aware that simply prepared  foods are the best foods.  The less you mess with something the better it is, as a rule.  Since I had allowed myself to worry about what I was going to do with all those tomatoes, my brain went into overdrive and I tried to find something ‘new’ and ‘different’ and ‘better’ to do with them.  It was exhausting.  Why did I do that to myself?  I ALWAYS do that to myself.  I get overwhelmed with the possibilities or lack of ones (that I can’t see because I am overwhelmed) and then, more times than not, quit. When I was able to let go and just make the stupid sandwich, all the stress stopped. First, I knew I could eat all the tomatoes as sandwiches if I wanted.  Second, and more realistic and less bready, I chopped em all up with whole cloves of garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil and roasted them.  I’ll enjoy them now and later.  All it took was a second to simplify and everything fell into place.  Why can’t I remember that?