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The first tomatoes of the season are sacred. Spoken for. They are thinly sliced, dressed with salt and pepper and maybe olive oil at the most, and eaten in reverent silence. As there are a few more tomatoes to be had, the tomato sandwich recurs. White bread, mayonnaise, tomato, salt and pepper. And then July and August arrive, and we are spoiled for choice.

Yesterday was a momentous day. It was all about dealing with loose odds and ends that have followed me around, if only in my mind, for some time now.

Few of my journeys in life have evoked such hunger as that to the sea.

The hunger after rising early to walk in the sand, against the wind. The hunger after a strong swim in cold water. The hunger a bright, hot fire on the beach instills.

The first heat wave of the season is always a shock. The days have been so temperate this spring, with regular rain and lush greenery, that I had almost forgotten how unbearably hot and humid the southern summer becomes. But here we are again.

This spring will go down as my busiest on record. It all began with a few 80 degree days in February. I took a chance, betting against a late snow or hard frost, and planted some things. As the days warmed and lengthened, I planted more. Then, we launched the website, John and I started planning our wedding, and we decided to go on a road trip this June.

Growing up, dessert meant lots of white sugar, white flour, and usually lots of icing. Pound cake, lemon meringue pie, and Texas sheet cake were standards at the Sunday table. And I did eat of the fruit of the tree, and I did eat well, which is probably why I love more complex flavors now.

I had a revelatory moment when I discovered that Brussels sprouts aren't naturally soggy and sulfuric.

The fact is, when you boil or steam them to within an inch of their watery, mushy lives, they don't taste very good no matter how much butter you slather on them.

Perhaps Easter isn't the time to get fancy. Perhaps it isn't the time to try something new, but rather to stick to the old family classics. But I've always believed in expanding holiday horizons. After all, what's celebratory about a scripted table? Why not make pumpkin baklava for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie?

I have good news and bad news for you. Good first: this is a supremely tasty recipe. But to get to the end result you have to peel pearl onions, which on the scale of things you have to peel is a real pain in the tuchus. I thought shallots were bad. BUT, the recipe is worth it, and those little onions make all the difference for this recipe. Just peas and prosciutto? Too salty and meaty.


Joy of Cooking App for iPad and iPhone

After three years of collaborative effort with our friends at Culinate and Scribner, it is our pleasure to introduce the Joy of Cooking for iPad and iPhone! Please check out this full-featured, digital version of the 2006 edition. In addition to the recipes and indispensable reference information our readers know and love, the app has many features that are brand new to JOY:

  • Built-in recipe timers (you can have multiple timers going simultaneously)
  • Search for and filter recipes by key word, ingredient, cuisine, season, technique, diet, and more
  • Create shopping lists from within the app
  • Convert any recipe to metric automatically
  • Give voice commands or have recipe steps spoken to you
  • Create menus in the app
  • Share recipes from within the app
  • Color photography

Truly a JOY for the 21st century! Download by directing your browser to Don't forget to review the app!