Toast with your Pauce? Or a Naked Lady?

Today was the hottest day of the year so far: it was nearly 100F (38C), making this the perfect time to heat the kitchen up. I like to sweat and turn bright red and gasp for air over a huge pot of boiling water when it is too hot to be outside. I had about 20 kilograms (45 lbs) of ripe tomatoes which I turned into 3 big jars of what I call "pauce". "Pauce" is skinned and seeded tomato cooked to the halfway point between sauce and paste. A jar makes a great dinner for two in the winter. We add onion, garlic, peppers and herbs to make a quick sauce that has the warm sweet glow of summer. When you are shivering in in mid winter you forget how sweaty summer was, remembering only the sweetness of all those tomatoes.

After cooking and canning the pauce, of course I went out in the heat and picked more tomatoes.


Same rose, the Bourbon 'Souvenir de la Malmaison', but different plants. One plant's flowers all toasted in this heat. The other's did not. Same amount of sun and water. The difference? One plant was put in 10 years ago; the other, two years ago. A good root system helps preserve the flowers in extreme heat. At least that is my best guess. I wish plants could talk and explain why they do what they do. What if the plant with the toasted flowers confessed, chuckling, that it hated me so it let all the flowers fry out of sheer spite? What if they ooohed and aaahed when you watered them, or burped after an application of fertilizer? Gardening would be more fun than it already is. Of course, if they screamed in pain when you dug them out...yikes, ok, never mind.

Now about those Naked Ladies
August is Naked Lady time in Southern California, when Amaryllis belladonna, common name Naked Lady, sends pearlescent pink flowers up to bloom in the heat. I don't like to use the common names of plants, but around the neighborhood if you say "Amaryllis belladonna" people go "Huh?" while if you say "Naked Lady" they know what you are talking about.

This South African native bulb is at home in California. Green juicy tongues of foliage appear around October, as the winter rains begin, browning and dying off by June. The delicate pink flowers shoot up from the leafless bulbs in August, set seed, brown, shrivel, and the cycle repeats. A completely no-care plant, unless you like to neaten up the area by removing the dead foliage in June. No water required, especially nice in the heat of August.