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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Irony and Roasted Tomatoes

It's been four weeks since my back surgery, and I'm stiff, sore and tired. Exactly where I should be. The procedure, though more extensive and invasive than originally planned, went very well.

Having surgery gives a gal a lot of time to think. My mind is filled with gratitude. I'm grateful for family and friends who sent flowers, food and thoughtfully written cards. For those who called, stopped by and sent little "checking on you" notes electronically. And for my husband and mom, who have been more helpful and supportive then they could ever know.

Having surgery, aside from the pain, the limping, the endless fatigue, the wicked drug-induced side effects and the stunning shock to your system, is really pretty fascinating.

I can't remember a time in my adult life when I've had a singular focus. My job is to heal. Sounds simple, and in some ways it is. Walk a little every day. Slowly. Then, rest, relax, and rest some more. Read, rest, and read some more. Nap.

For years, my multi-tasking mind and body has yearned for time to simply slow down. And I'm grateful in more ways than I can express for this time. I can't imagine doing anything else right now.

But, honestly, it can also be frustrating. My mind wants to do things my body can't do. Yoga, for example. For years, I've wanted to start a daily morning yoga practice. Perfect timing, right? Um, nope. I mean, shouldn't I be using this time to write, create, cook, DO something? Anything?

Sorry, not happening. Because even my brain is off. Fuzzy, off-kilter, reaching for words. I've been trying to write this post for two weeks and could hardly string a sentence together.

Meantime, the rest of the world continues to move full-tilt. It feels strange, sitting on the sidelines. I feel a little left out. Yet, the thought of re-entering my old world and my former pace feels overwhelming.

And then there's my kitchen. It taunts me. I'm aching to start cooking again. I've worked full time for my entire adult life, and have never had the kind of time I'd like to devote to cooking. Now I have the time, but not the ability. Yet.

Well, I can make little things. Grilled cheese, roasted tomatoes, simple salads.

But I want to be making homemade bread. Pie crust from scratch. Braises and soups and glorious fall dishes. I want to be canning the last of the Roma tomatoes from my garden.

Not that I really even want to eat what I hypothetically could cook. My appetite is weak and my digestion is battered.

In the meantime, I've shifted into planning mode: scouring magazines, cookbooks and blogs for inspiration, developing recipes on paper, and making a list of dishes to whip up once I'm ready.

By the time I can really get cooking again, I suspect I'll be back to work and my chaotic schedule. Ironic, I know.

Roasted Tomatoes

This is hardly a recipe; it's really more of a technique. But it is a staple of my kitchen, a good way to use up some of summer's bounty, and even allows you to enjoy tomatoes in the middle of winter, when they're out of season. I add them to pastas, soups, salads, side dishes and to other vegetables. They're delicious plain. Feel free to play with the seasonings -- you can add crushed red pepper, smoked paprika, lemon zest -- the tomatoes are a blank canvas. Sorry, no photo this time -- that would require a level of organization and coordination that just doesn't exist at the moment.

1 package cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved, or plum tomatoes sliced medium-thick
Good olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil or thyme
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sliced tomatoes on cookie sheets lined with a Silpat, parchment paper or foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and combine well with hands. Arrange on the cookie sheet -- give them some room to breathe. Pop in the oven and cook until the skins are wrinkled and lightly browned and the tomatoes begin to collapse, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with fresh herbs and cheese.


  1. I read these words "canning the last of my Romas" and thought - next year, Maria, next year. It's so hard to slow down, especially when the things you love (cooking, yoga, gardening) require mobility, but your body demands it, and your long term health will benefit. I know how restlessness creeps in, tho, and wish you peace and tranquility and some fabulous reading. xoxCathy

  2. I am about to have a couple of your roasted tomatoes on an english muffin with cream cheese - love those things. You'll be back in the kitchen gangbusters soon enough, don't rush it. Heal, my friend!!! xo Abbie

  3. Amazingly simple and enormously delicious--thank you for taking time out from the most important job in your life right now--healing. And eating such healthy food is part of the process.
    Merci beaucoup! Bacioni!
    Halina (my Google account name is Vasilissa!)

  4. How do you keep tomatoes once they are roasted?

  5. Maria, sounds like you are spending this time listening to your body. I know it feels slow but really, you will be back to your old self in no time. Be well, my friend!

  6. Thanks for the lovely comments. Twinsx2mom, I keep them in a sealed container in the fridge, and they last a good five days.

  7. I'm proud of my little blogger. I can remember when she was an edible four pound, eleven ounces herself. Papa Onadime