Su Lum: Slumming
August 1, 2012
Although I consider anything before 10 a.m. to be “pre-dawn,” I set my alarm every Friday night to make sure I get to the Aspen Saturday Market by 9. After 10, you can be sure the place will be a zoo and you will have to fight your way through the shoppers and dogs to get to the peaches, which are, by the way, excellent this year.
My only suggestion about the market’s layout is that, out of consideration for the halt and the lame (I am a halt), all the foodstuffs should be in one area and all the trinkets and non-edibles in another area, but that’s just because my only interest is in the edibles. Overall, it’s no doubt more profitable to mix up the booths.
Not only the peaches but the cherries, corn and tomatoes are fantastic this summer. I have had very poor luck freezing corn, so I don’t even try anymore. I got very excited when I heard that the thing to do was to blanch the ears whole, flash freeze them and put them in gallon bags, but we were all underwhelmed with the results.
The corn is only spectacular for about a month, so what I do now is eat corn morning, noon and night while it lasts and then wait until next summer. The best way to cook corn on the cob is to microwave one ear at a time, in the husk, for four minutes. Cool under cold water, husk, and enjoy. Eight minutes for two ears sounds like too much, but it isn’t.
Despite the rumor that Roma tomatoes can be frozen whole, don’t believe it. The only way to preserve tomatoes is to can them – a very easy process. You can can a box (12 quarts) of tomatoes in an hour (plus an hour cooking the cans). Drop them in boiling water for just a few seconds, peel, push them into sterilized jars, top with a teaspoon of salt, and you’re set for the winter.
I can attest that a canned tomato topped with salad dressing is an acceptable substitute for a real tomato in the dead of winter, not to mention all the ways you can use them in recipes.
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This being an early summer, it will soon be time to can salsa. This is usually a September project, but I’m going to start as soon as they roll out those chili roasters at the market. Salsa is a more labor-intensive endeavor than plain old canned tomatoes. It involves onions, garlic, jalapenos, roasted chilis peeled and chopped, a Cuisinart, spices and lots of tomatoes. A box of tomatoes makes 32 pints and is an all-day deal.
I don’t go out of my way to create work for myself, but I’ve been making salsa for years and have never regretted a minute of the time spent.
To freeze peaches, drop them in boiling water, peel them, pit them, halve them, and put them in freezer bags with some orange juice. Keep the skins on if you’re going to blend them for smoothies.
I like them best fresh and let them sit for several days until they are drippingly ready. You know they’re really ripe if you can peel the skin off with your fingernail – then stand over the sink and slurp away.
For more civilized occasions – or if I have a surfeit of ready peaches – I make an easy peach crisp. Peel and slice peaches into a buttered casserole dish. In a separate bowl, cut half a stick of butter into a cup of white cake mix, season with nutmeg, and sprinkle over the peaches. Pour about a half cup of milk over the top, pour some melted butter over it if you’re feeling daring, and bake at 350 degrees until the top is brown.
Salud to the market!
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