There are so many good and even colorful foods in spring and summer. Squash, zucchini, corn, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and more, but it is the tomato that is the King of the Garden in my book. I live on them during the hot months. One summer as a child, I broke out in a red rash. The doctor said it was too many fresh tomatoes!
The heat added to drought-like conditions will surely hurt the garden tomatoes around here, but right now you can buy them in abundant amounts at the farmer's markets. Yesterday I bought my morning supply and then took a friend back to the market about 2:00 in the afternoon. She got her tomatoes, but the vendor was closing up shop early because the heat was melting folks right into the pavement. I asked the vendor if the tomatoes would keep until the next market day as there were so many left. Some would she said. "But the seconds will go to the cows and they love them."
What! The cows were going to get those tomatoes? So she made me a deal on a #20 lb. box of canners. I haven't canned tomatoes in years; in fact, I sold my pressure canner long ago. But I took those 'maters home and made fresh tomato juice. Some of the five quarts landed in the freezer for a cold winter's day when a bright red glass reminding us of July heat is needed.
A couple of weeks ago, I made about the same five quarts of salsa. No one ever made salsa like my dad. He constantly dabbled with the recipe, some batches being hot enough to scald the hair off a dog's tail. He got a bang out of my boys soaking it up on chips and downing it no matter what. He laughed when his kids came home and his salsa stash vanished. "Hide the salsa, here come the kids!" But he loved seeing us consume a batch of his salsa before Thanksgiving turkey and Easter ham.
I like salsa, but no store bought salsa is ever as satisfying as Dad's recipe. Thinking of salsa makes me miss him more. My sister sent the recipe which I halved to see if I could even get close to his taste with tomatoes. Oh, mine wasn't as good but it was close--close enough that almost all five quarts have disappeared here. The next batch will definitely be made full recipe!
So you can have your pink watermelon and orange cantaloupe, although I like them too. But it is that rich red tomato that I choose before other bites. Nothing like a round tomato, "smelling green" like the itchy vine it grows on. Smooth off summer's dust and bite into it like an autumn apple. The warm skin breaks, and juice oozes out to run down my chin like liquid summer. Only a dash of salt could make it any better!