I miss Jeannie. She was my next-door neighbor for many years before she moved to a farm and I moved to a ranch. Well, a ranch style home.
In town, Jeannie’s family and mine shared more than a driveway. We were “refrigerator” neighbors. That meant visits next door when we ran out of eggs or milk. Sometimes a child would knock on the back door to deliver leftovers from a party: “Our family can’t eat all of this.” We’d give each other edibles that our own families had rejected but were still “good” enough: low-fat salad dressing; a dry cake that could be passable with a little vanilla ice cream on top.
As refrigerator neighbors, Jeannie and I frequented each other’s kitchens even when no one was home. We had each other’s keys. But this was Iowa, after all. Our back doors were usually open.
Once I took a brand new package of cheese from Jeannie’s refrigerator, thinking I would return it when I went to the store the next day. I forgot. And when Jeannie went to make lasagna that week, she came over to ask if I had any mozzarella. “I must be losing my mind,“ she said. “I was sure I just bought some.”
So tonight when I was making a salad and needed tomatoes, I called Jeannie and drove to her acreage, just a mile out of town. The luscious tomatoes were not in the refrigerator (no tomatoes should ever be!) but in a field under the blue Iowa sky. Jeannie picked some for me. And before I drove away, Jeannie told me that she missed me, too.
Recipe for Too Many Tomatoes
Cut up the extra over-ripe tomatoes of this season, simmer ‘til soft, serve in a soup bowl with a pat of unsalted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Tastes like the end of summer!