We quite often find ourselves in the mountains. It's become a lot like a second home. Sometimes Tennessee, other times North Carolina, most times we will be camping and quite often rock climbing is involved.
We are, as it would seem, nature people. The woods provide a certain placidity vital to our souls. For him it is the challenge and the rocky surfaces, for me it is the green and the solitude I find there. Often, it is just more simple. And we like that.
The canopy of the woods in the mountains in late August provide an escape from the heat that lays still on the flat Floridian ground. It's nice to find that. But even still, late summer in Tennessee isn't always all that forgiving. And although the foliage provides the shade, the sweat still drips, the mosquitoes still bite and the breeze quietly tends to snuff out. However, the feeling of being among that, as the season intended and without the air conditioning, somehow becomes cleansing. The uncultivated surrounds and the leaving behind of any sort of normal routine make my body relish the simplicity. I feel happier, healthier and more rested.
There is a trail that leads down a rocky path to the river, where a swinging bridge hangs. The river flows from the waterfall. And like nothing else, we swim. The water is cold. The late afternoon heat is perfect for that. It's also perfect for a simple sandwich snack for his tattered climbing hands to hold and my hungry hiking tummy to fill up on.
We brought the bread with us, from our favorite bakery in Jacksonville. Once, it was a baguette. I was much too excited and forgot to photograph that.
The cheese, I bought from a small grocer in Chattanooga. A lovely local cheddar from a farm in Philadelphia, Tennessee.
The tomato relish, I made to bring with us using the last of the seasons heirloom tomatoes, flavoured with currants, cloves and just the right hint of red chili.
I would happily take any day by a tree lined swimming hole. No matter how icy the water or how hot the air. It leaves us refreshed of the heat and refreshed of complexities. We revive our sense of wonder at the world, and the best bit, we relish in the simplicity of summer life.
Heirloom Tomato Relish
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 1 hour
total time: 1 hours 10 minutes
yields: 1 medium jar full
550 gm heirloom tomatoes (about 4), coarsely chopped
175 ml (3/4 cup) white wine vinegar
100 gm (1/2 cup) brown sugar
1 apple, coarsely chopped
125 gm currants
25 gm fine sea salt
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cloves
finely grated rind of 2 unwaxed lemons
1 medium sterilized jar
Some people like to peel their tomatoes by blanching them in boiling water and peeling them once they are cool. But if you don't mind a more textured relish, skins and all, don't worry about it. Just throw them in, as is.
Process ingredients in a food processor to a coarse paste. Transfer to a large saucepan, bring to a gentle boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar has dissolved, reduce heat to medium low and stir occasionally until thick (about 1 hour). Set aside to cool. Place in Jar, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
A Simple Summer Sandwich
sharp cheddar cheese
heirloom tomato relish
Combine slices of cheddar, a hand full of rocket (arugula) and a good spread of relish onto a sourdough baguette. Cut into individual size pieces.
Wrap in brown baking parchment, tie up with string and bundle together in a piece of square fabric or a bento bag like this one. Enjoy.