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Letter from the Canyon

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1163149472/gallery_29805_1195_13585.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">By Priscilla

Driving, driving driving driving after having taken my Mother out for an appointment and to lunch and then returned her to her home. Pretty much drained am I, and anticipating the cloggy southbound freeways in SO not a good way.

I remember to turn on the radio for the last half hour of Steve Jones's Jonesy's Jukebox just in time to hear him noodling around on his guitar like he does, a part of his show I love. Course there isn't a part I don't. He plays a snippet of this and a bit of that, then begins to pluck a barely recognizable "Roadhouse Blues" by the The Doors, stops, starts, tries again, asks his ever-hovering producer if that’s right. Finally he jettisons the idea, muttering, "It’s useless, anyway," meaning the song, and makes a couple of almost unintelligible cracks about Jim Morrison’s dress sense. Hee hee -- don't tell Ivan, major Doors proselytizer, whose favorite song that is. But then Steve Jones and I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Ivan musically.

"Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell" by The Stooges rips open the radio, and before I am consciously aware my bare foot is tapping on the accelerator and I'm sitting up straight and bopping discreetly, so discreet as to be imperceptible to my fellow drivers, I assure you. (In a startling and life-affirming who-knew, the Ig has recently been revealed as a cookbook-owner essential in this delightful recent eG Forums topic.) A couple more headbangers -- Steve Jones is in a headbanging mood today, clearly -- and I'm grooving, allowing everybody that wants to to merge and join the flow of traffic, join MY flow, thinking inevitably if fleetingly of Joan Didion's merge metaphor from Play It As It Lays. Didn't young B.E. Ellis reference it in Less Than Zero? Homage? Hmmm. Whatever. Let's face it, he ain't no Joan Didion, however his heart may be in the right place.

I'm pondering dinner -- back to normal, or what passes for normal 'round these parts. Anticipating, in a good way this time. Anticipating The Last Caprese.

Sounds like a movie made from a Mario Puzo novel, almost, only this is an insalata: The last several tomatoes from Ivan's this-year's crop are lined up on the table, facing this fate. They are all save one from the orange variety, which was something hillbilly I think, a name I get a kick out of because my dad’s people, before they were Okies were Missouri hillbillies. And of course that leads me inevitably if fleetingly to The Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies," which I have life-long taken to be a Ray Davies personal aside to me. The save one was a pink Lebanese, an especially good-looking tomato. All are good to eat.

There's basil remaining on the plants, lots, in fact. These have been the least-bolty basil plants evereverever, impulse-purchased while walking through a little plant boutique I like to call Target Garden Center, in frustration over every single one of the sprouted-from-seed startlings having been consumed by some predating arthropod or another. It is just the kind I like best, too, huge succulent leaves with huge flavor. When the weather is hot, and wasn’t it hot this summer, that flavor is just what I want

Today’s Indian Summerish 85 is fortuitous, because it lends even more savor to this final expression. The mozz ain’t anything to write home about, just Trader Joe's "Caprese Log," which happens to taste good and, despite my slight aversion to the somewhat manipulated shape (putting one in mind of those square hard-boiled egg contraptions, or similar), excels at its job: making nice uniform Caprese stacks, which is how I've been doing it this summer. Over the years I’ve done rustica-messy-chunked, beefsteak-overlapped, even teensy with cherry tomatoes, delicious one-biters. But the little stack is what I’m liking for the past couple of seasons, and I didn’t even have Trader Joe's log at my disposal at first. But I'll take it!

At least for now, for this Last Caprese. Who knows what next year will bring? Will Ivan even grow any tomatoes? We know I won't. And whither Target Garden Center bolt-resistant basil? Or indeed, any of us.

<div align="center">+ + + + +</div>

Priscilla writes from a Southern California canyon populated by the typical mix of old hippies, wannabe off-the-gridders, equestrians running the gamut from 20-acre Thoroughbred full dressage to clip-clop nag-riding busted flat in Baton Rouge, schoolteachers, artists, wealthy entrepreneurs, and law enforcement officers (for some reason).

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1163149472/gallery_29805_1195_13585.jpg"  hspace="8" align="left">By Priscilla

Driving, driving driving driving after having taken my Mother out for an appointment and to lunch and then returned her to her home.  Pretty much drained am I, and anticipating the cloggy southbound freeways in SO not a good way.

I remember to turn on the radio for the last half hour of Steve Jones's Jonesy's Jukebox  just in time to hear him noodling around on his guitar like he does, a part of his show I love.  Course there isn't a part I don't.  He plays a snippet of this and a bit of that, then begins to pluck a barely recognizable "Roadhouse Blues" by the The Doors, stops, starts, tries again, asks his ever-hovering producer if that’s right.  Finally he jettisons the idea, muttering, "It’s useless, anyway," meaning the song, and makes a couple of almost unintelligible cracks about Jim Morrison’s dress sense.  Hee hee -- don't tell Ivan, major Doors proselytizer, whose favorite song that is.  But then Steve Jones and I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Ivan musically.

"Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell" by The Stooges rips open the radio, and before I am consciously aware my bare foot is tapping on the accelerator and I'm sitting up straight and bopping discreetly, so discreet as to be imperceptible to my fellow drivers, I assure you.  (In a startling and life-affirming who-knew, the Ig has recently been revealed as a cookbook-owner essential in this delightful recent eG Forums topic.) A couple more headbangers -- Steve Jones is in a headbanging mood today, clearly -- and I'm grooving, allowing everybody that wants to to merge and join the flow of traffic, join MY flow, thinking inevitably if fleetingly of Joan Didion's merge metaphor from Play It As It Lays.  Didn't young B.E. Ellis reference it in Less Than Zero?  Homage?  Hmmm.  Whatever.  Let's face it, he ain't no Joan Didion, however his heart may be in the right place.

I'm  pondering dinner -- back to normal, or what passes for normal 'round these parts.  Anticipating, in a good way this time.  Anticipating The Last Caprese.

Sounds like a movie made from a Mario Puzo novel, almost, only this is an insalata:  The last several tomatoes from Ivan's this-year's crop are lined up on the table, facing this fate.  They are all save one from the orange variety, which was something hillbilly I think, a name I get a kick out of because my dad’s people, before they were Oakies were Missouri hillbillies.  And of course that leads me inevitably if fleetingly to The Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies," which I have life-long taken to be a Ray Davies personal aside to me.  The save one was a pink Lebanese, an especially good-looking tomato.  All are good to eat.

There's  basil remaining on the plants, lots, in fact.  These have been the least-bolty basil plants evereverever, impulse-purchased while walking through a little plant boutique I like to call Target Garden Center, in frustration over every single one of the sprouted-from-seed startlings having been consumed by some predating arthropod or another.  It is just the kind I like best, too, huge succulent leaves with huge flavor.  When the weather is hot, and wasn’t it hot this summer, that flavor is just what I want

Today’s Indian Summerish 85 is fortuitous, because it lends even more savor to this final expression. The mozz ain’t anything to write home about, just Trader Joe's "Caprese Log," which happens to taste good and, despite my slight aversion to the somewhat manipulated shape (putting one in mind of those square hard-boiled egg contraptions, or similar), excels at its job:  making nice uniform Caprese stacks, which is how I've been doing it this summer.  Over the years I’ve done rustica-messy-chunked, beefsteak-overlapped, even teensy with cherry tomatoes, delicious one-biters.  But the little stack is what I’m liking for the past couple of seasons, and I didn’t even have Trader Joe's log at my disposal at first.  But I'll take it!

At least for now, for this Last Caprese.  Who knows what next year will bring?  Will Ivan even grow any tomatoes?  We know I won't.  And whither Target Garden Center bolt-resistant basil?  Or indeed, any of us.

<div align="center">+ + + + +</div>

Priscilla writes from a Southern California canyon populated by the typical mix of old hippies, wannabe off-the-gridders, equestrians running the gamut from 20-acre Thoroughbred full dressage to clip-clop nag-riding busted flat in Baton Rouge, schoolteachers, artists, wealthy entrepreneurs, and law enforcement officers (for some reason).

Your canyon denizen roster sounds a lot like Topanga Canyon. I was once quite close to someone from there. :biggrin:

Your caprese sounds great. The best I ever had was in a home in the Latin Quarter in Paris - it and bread and wine were lunch.

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Rocking in the Canyon, barefoot and loud---that's the way to charge into Autumn!

When our tomatoes were reddening on the vine, yours were a hopeful gleam in a gardener's eye.

Now our plants are down, composted, stakes and cages set away to await another Spring, and the last hundred or so from the harvest are upstairs in a guest bedroom, wrapped in newspaper and nestled in low-cut boxbottoms. The Battenburg is covered with a doubled painter's dropcloth to guard against leakage, the window is open a couple of inches to usher in the cooling, preserving air, and the cat is in a Royal Snit at the closing of the door upon her favourite poufy chair.

Now you're still harvesting tomatoes AND a plushess of basil. Our leggy greenery grew almost head-high, throwing up long, flowery stems redolent of pesto and grass. It grew thinner with the pluckings, yellowed to a jaundice, and withered, despite glorious sunshine and careful waterings. So the four plants from the big green pot were yanked out and cast onto the leafpile. And the last of the crop is in a baggie in the fridge, fit only for whirring with garlic and oil, for anointment of a seasonally-hot pasta.

The days of cold Caprese have faltered to a close and the warmth of pesto will have to suffice. But until then, my kitchen-proud heart will gleam over the dish of tomatoes set on the Thanksgiving table.

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The last tomatos were harvested from my garden six to eight weeks ago. The brown withered plants remain standing with the aid of support sticks and wire cages, looking rather like nursing home residents. They've been hit by a few hard frosts and snowed on several times already. There are a few small green tomatos extant which never had the chance to ripen.

Their appearance, along with your mention of the The Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies", put me in mind of another Kinks' song appropriate to both that scene and today's Veterans Day commemoration.

Speaking of hillbillies, (and canyons), (and old hippies :cool: ), the best live rock I ever saw was Black Oak Arkansas at The Corral in Topanga Canyon. It was just before their first album was released, and before lead singer Jim Dandy Mangrum got false teeth!

SB (lost in reflections, happy :smile: and sad :sad: )

PS: What is the car interior shot from? It has to be early-mid 60's something GM or Mopar, probably compact or mid-size. It's definitely not Ford. :hmmm:

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Thank you, Chef Carey. Caprese + bread & wine makes one of the perfect meals of the Universe.

Thank you, Rachel. I envy your held-over tomatoes. I find myself concerned now, though, about just how long kitty will be denied access to her chair.

And thank you, Steve. Just last evening we harvested a few small surprise stragglers off of the sad-looking vines. Superintense flavor, excellent accompaniment to steak and the last half of Oliver!

Ray Davies' songs can carry a person through her whole life. "Celluloid Heroes" was my favorite lullaby to sing to my baby, when he was a baby. "20th Century Man"? I ask you, is there a better song? More men should affect velvet suits, as well, in my opinion.

The car interior Dave the Cook will have to tell us about... the art is again his handiwork. I spy an aftermarket cassette player, and what is that circular dial, a tachometer?

And I didn't even mention to Dave that we'd just powered though all three Fast and Furiouses!


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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The car interior Dave the Cook will have to tell us about... the art is again his handiwork.  I spy an aftermarket cassette player, and what is that circular dial, a tachometer? 

If he doesn't check in on this thread I'll PM him tomorrow.

It really bothers me that I can't ID the vehicle. :angry: That is indeed a tachometer. I'm not sure if it's OEM or aftermarket. :hmmm: I suspect the cassette deck is a lot newer than the vehicle, which probably not only predates cassettes, but even 8-tracks or FM radio :shock: !

(SB remembers parking in special spots on his home town's main street to listen to Bleeker Street on KAAY, Little Rock, AM radio :raz: )

I couldn't find a neat tomatoe gear shifter ball, as depicted, but there is a food related story about shift knobs.

Henry Ford was a big fan of the soybean, both as an industrial product and a food. In the late 1920's he had his scientists and engineers develop a plastic made from soybean meal which was used to make such parts as horn buttons and gearshift knobs. By 1936 Ford was using a bushel of soybeans in every vehicle it produced! :smile:

SB (Kinks/Cars/Cooking & AM Radio! :wub: )

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Soy plastic seems like a decent use for Monsanto's Roundup Ready GM soybeans, if we must have GM soybeans in the world.

I wonder if it was beautiful like its contemporary Bakelite?


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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Oooo- Just had The Last Caprese myself last night.

For some reason, my local grocery store carried lovely ripe heirlooms up until yesterday. Then, they vanished, overnight. I had two left over last night, and happened to have some leftover buffalo mozz from the caprese I had over the weekend :rolleyes:

... picked up some fresh basil at the store and voila, my Last Caprese of the year. I even contemplated the last bite of tomato for a few seconds, realizing that it would likely be next July or even August before that flavor crosses my tongue again.


Born Free, Now Expensive

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I wonder if (soy plastic) was beautiful like its contemporary Bakelite?

Here's a faithful reproduction shift knob of a 30's Ford gear shift knob.

Maybe they weren't much to look at, and over the years exposure to the elements often caused them to crack and crumble, but the use of organic based plastics was quite an innovation on the part of Old Henry. In fact, in 1941, Ford Motor Company built a complete auto body out of hemp plastic! :shock:

I haven't held a soy plastic shift knob in my hand for many years, but I recall they had a sort of warm "organic" feel to them, quite distinct from modern hard plastic, or even wooden, knobs. :cool:

SB (now, as for a tomato knob .... :hmmm:

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