jam + goat cheese cheddar + honey wheat bread

spiced tomato jam

It’s my last night in Cambridge, and I’m starting to realize that summer’s over, that I’m moving back to Providence in a few hours, that the quiet rustling of leaves outside and the languorous breeze that breathes through the mesh in the window every now and then is only going to be here for a little while longer before Fall sets in.

Is it possible to summarize an entire summer in just a few lines? (I guess I wouldn’t have this problem if I updated more regularly). If I could encapsulate these last three months and deliver it to you in a magic sensory box, you’d hear late night conversations with friends on the beach, waves crashing against the sand; see the fog-tinged color palette of San Francisco; smell the grass outside my apartment at dusk. You’d feel the grit of New York City and marvel at the relative quiet of Chicago, but find both enjoyable because of good company. Your legs would ache a little from carrying you all around Boston, but you wouldn’t mind; your brain would be racing from all the ideas you’d be thinking about after reading almost gluttonously (thanks, getpocket), kind of like how you’d eat the blueberries from the farmer’s market: in handfuls, trying to satisfy a craving you know’ll never be satiated.

This may or may not sound like a box you’d like to receive, but the reason I’m able to share all these experiences with you – even after working full-time – is because I’m starting to understand the whole balance thing. I realized this summer that it really all boils down to being honest: during downtime, it means being honest with yourself (Are you really going to pass up fireworks on the beach because you think you’re going to get through that Econ textbook? Come on now) and in the workplace, it means being honest with yourself to others.

This summer I had the privilege of being a strategy intern for an incredible design consultancy called Continuum, and it was my first experience really being on a team. One of the most important things I learned was that being straightforward (e.g. ‘This is what I think,’ or ‘This is what I can or cannot do’) is not a mark of selfishness but one of honesty, and is actually more considerate toward others because it lets them know how I really feel. I’m used to putting aside my thoughts and feelings out of consideration for others, but that’s doing a disservice both to me and to them; in actuality, speaking up helps everyone on the team get on the same page and encourages the forward momentum and growth of the project.

The simple (or not-so-simple) act of being honest with myself and with others has catalyzed various work- and non-work-related projects – so far it’s been really effective, and surprisingly liberating (Holy crap, I totally wrote about this in May. Thank goodness I’m not just imagining my own progress). I’m also incredibly grateful to have worked at a place, with a team, that values the opinions and contributions of their interns. With all this learning and the incredible breadth of experiences I’ve had, this has to have been the best summer ever (I’ve only had 21 so far, but you know).

One of the surest signs of summer is the vast abundance of beautiful tomatoes. I found these gems all over Massachusetts, from talented gardeners in my office to farmers at the market who carried 6 or 7 varieties at a time. I acquired a bit too many (I don’t even eat tomatoes that often) and had to figure out what to do with them before I moved out. This jam is just about perfect – it’s sweet, spicy, and um, delicious. I recommend making this before tomato season’s over and the less flavorful stuff returns to the supermarket.

Mark Bittman’s Spiced Tomato Jam (NYT original here)

1-1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup sugar (Mr. Bittman says to use 1 cup, but 1/2 cup is more than enough if your tomatoes are awesome)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (it’d also be good with a little zest)
1/2 – 1 tablespoon fresh finely minced ginger, depending on preference
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Take those beautiful tomatoes and chop ’em good.

2. Throw the tomatoes, and everything else, into a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

the flavor arsenal, minus the ginger/lime/sugar/salt

3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture’s jam-like. Taste and adjust seasoning; cool and refrigerate.

getting there!

there we go.

4. Make bread to go with it. Just kidding, don’t.

Honey wheat bread (this recipe was okay… not really worth sharing).

I mean you can if you want to. It’s not necessary.

P.S. Aren’t these little jars cute? I saw the ones the wonderful Tiffany of Social Colander put her friend’s nut butters in and had to find some of my own.

I put it on a slice with melted cheddar… This stuff is so good. It’s what ketchup dreams of becoming when it goes to sleep at night.

jam + goat cheese cheddar + honey wheat bread