Somehow I blinked and summer almost got past me. Last thing I remember, I was elbow deep in berries and cherries, anxious for some really good beach days. The next thing I know baskets of plums, peaches, and even apples replaced the strawberries, shadows stretch too far across the path on my post-work jog, and September is really just too close for comfort.
I’ve been running all over this summer, it seems–Boulder, Cleveland, Rochester, here, there, everywhere. And if the precarious balancing act of plates, bowls, jars, bags and baskets of fruits and vegetables in my fridge and around my kitchen is any indication, I’ve also been cooking up a storm–but haven’t had time to share the treats I’ve made. Blueberry jam with orange and mint (my new favorite), buttermilk cake with blackberries as big as my thumb, sweet corn ice cream (don’t make that face, it’s really good!), blue cheese coleslaw, and my very first fried green tomatoes.
I’d only tried fried green tomatoes once at a restaurant before I found myself with half a dozen unripe tomatoes sitting on my counter a few weeks ago. I’ve made them three times since and the recipe is earning its keep as a staple in my summer kitchen. They’re incredibly good hot and fresh with homemade ranch dressing for dipping, but I’ve also found they’re amazing on a burger, or even cold the next day on a buttery, lightly toasted bun with lettuce and just a wee bit of mayo.
The rest of August and September are shaping up to be just as jam-packed (also probably packed with jam) as the past few months. Next weekend I’m heading to a yoga/music festival I’ve been helping publicize over the past few months. Then my sister Erica will be here to sell her awesome jewelry (stop by the Renegade Craft Fair September 7-8!).
After that, my very first food swap! I’m not inclined to deal with the time/paperwork/money investment of actually selling what I make, and I can only foist so much off on my friends and family. A food swap is the perfect chance to get to try some new things, clear out some of the projects that are taking over my kitchen (I’m looking at you, pickle/pepper relish), and meet some like-minded Chicago cooking enthusiasts.
Finally, I added my blog to the new Chicago Food Blogger directory and I’m hoping some fun get-togethers will come out of that. One of the things I was looking for last year when I claimed this corner of the Internet was a list of other people around Chicago who loved to cook, and talk about cooking, as much as I do; this new directory fits the bill perfectly. I’ve already found some new sites to read, and hope there will be some fun chances to get to know other foodies nearby.
But before I get too ahead of myself with all these plans and doings and such, there’s still some summer-ing to eke out (especially watermelon-ing, I really need to get on that).
Fried Green Tomatoes
Really green, unripe tomatoes hold up to frying the best, while the two types of cornmeal give these an extra bit of crunch, along with the cornmeal-buttermilk-cornmeal double breading process. I like using buttermilk because it’s less work than the usual milk and eggs and it compliments the tomatoes tartness; the mix of sweet and hot paprika add just a little heat and color.
2-3 green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
1/4 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup buttermilk
Additional salt to taste
In a bowl, stir together the two cornmeals, salt, paprika, and parsley. In a second bowl, pour in the buttermilk. Lightly coat tomato slices first in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess; dip in the buttermilk; coat once more in the cornmeal mixture. Set aside until ready to fry.
Heat a large pan over medium heat (cast iron is ideal) and add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, fry in batches of about 4 slices until tomatoes are golden and crispy on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip, add a little oil if needed, and continue to cook until the second side is golden. Set tomatoes on a cooling rack covered with a paper towel while you cook the next batch.
Sprinkle with additional salt to taste and serve.