When I was nine or ten, an idea struck me sometime around February. I wanted to put on my boots and gloves, trek through the drifts, and form an arsenal of snowballs. Then I could gather those snowballs, pop them into the freezer, and store them until sometime after the Fourth of July. Once the summer arrived and the humidity was thick enough to scoop it with a spoon, I imagined inviting family and friends over for a snowball fight. In shorts and flip-flops, we’d hurl the snowballs through the air, feeling the temperatures drop with each frosty hit until the humidity melted away like the snowballs themselves.
In reality, our freezer didn’t have room for dozens and dozens of snowballs. Plus, I was warned that by July those snowballs would be ice blocks. Still, it is an interesting thought…
As sledding and snowball fights are to a winter’s day, what if we could take the best of other seasons and offer it to another as a gift? When crisp autumn leaves blow to the ground, what if we could give ourselves a bouquet of lilacs from the prior spring? Or what if in the depths of a blizzard, we could gift ourselves a still warm, ripe-off-the-vine summer tomato?
If I could pack a time capsule for myself with all of summer’s best, I would pack up the juiciest of watermelons, corn on the cob, a basket of tender peaches and delicate figs, and a handful of fragrant basil. I’d open two mason jars and fill one with the scent of freshly cut grass and the other with the scent of food cooking on the grill. I’d pack up that delicious heavy feeling that you get from a long day of biking or boating or hiking, making it wonderfully easy to sleep that night with open windows, while the crickets sing love songs just outside.
And when I opened my time capsule in the darkest months of the year, I would lay out a blanket and have a living room picnic. After I was done, warm from the afterglow of summer, I’d put on my boots and gloves and trek outside through the drifts to roll a snowball and pop it in the freezer, because every yin needs a yang. And just as a sweet tomato is made noticeably sweeter by way of a splash of vinegar, so is the summer’s sun made ever sweeter by the knowledge of how fleeting it is by its very nature.
Classic Summer Bruschetta
Makes about 20 pieces
This classic tomato bruschetta is better the next day, after the flavors have been allowed to meld. Often in bruschetta recipes, instead of including garlic in the bruschetta itself, people rub a cut clove of garlic onto slices of baguette. Personally, I’m always inclined for more garlic flavor instead of less. However, if you shy away from the stinking rose, feel free to go the old fashioned route instead. I also prefer not to seed my tomatoes before making bruschetta. I think so much of the ripe, vibrant flavor of the tomatoes is in the gel around the seeds, and I don’t want to lose an ounce of it.
- 2 small-sized garlic cloves, minced or zested with a Microplane zester
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced in medium chunks (about 4 cups)
- ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped small
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + extra for lightly oiling baguette
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
In a medium-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper. Cover the bowl and keep it in the refrigerator for a day to allow the flavors to meld. (If you’re short on time, you can skip the waiting period.)
Once the bruschetta is ready, heat outdoor grill to 400 degrees. Lightly oil the baguette slices and grill on each side for a few minutes, until brown and toasted. Remove from grill, top the slices with the tomato bruschetta, and serve.