Thursday, September 25, 2008

Personal Stonehenge

It is equinox and I know because the sun rises over my birdbath to mark the day when I stand in my bedroom door and look out onto the field. My own personal Stonehenge

Friday, September 19, 2008

Heirloom Tomato Tart

I've been so busy COOKing from the garden there has been little time left to WRITE about it. Before all your tomatoes disappear, consider making this tomato tart suggested to me by my friend with the night blooming Cereus.

Heirloom Tomato Tart

3 lbs ripe firm tomatoes
pate brise (I just use one pkg of Pillsbury roll out pie crust)
2 heads garlic
3/4 c cheese (fontina, cheddar, aged gouda,etc.)
olive oil
salt, pepper
handful fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350. Cut off top of garlic head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil, place on a cookie sheet, and roast until soft. Cool. Squeeze out cloves into a small bowl, mash with a fork and reserve.
Press pie dough into a thin tart pan with a removable bottom, Extend crust up around edges about 1 inch, fold and crimp. Refrigerate about 30 min. Remove from fridge, spread roasted garlic evenly on crust, and sprinkle about 1/2 cheese on.
Preheat oven to 450. Slice tomatoes and "pave" them on the crust, overlapping as you go. (if using heirlooms, here's your chance to alternate colors...a great effect) Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place tart pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 min. Reduce oven temp to 425, sprinkle with remaining cheese, (I add more if I feel like it, because I'm a cheese girl) and bake for 20 to 30 more minutes or until brown on edges . My recipe says if the crust gets too brown too fast to cover it with foil, but I've never had that problem. Remove from oven , sprinkle with about a handful of chopped or shredded fresh basil and cool on a wire rack for about 20 min. CAREFULLY push out of outer edges of tart pan, holding onto the bottom, and slide onto a big plate. Yum
A warning ... this requires time, so it is best made in the mid afternoon and served at room temperature. The roasting of the garlic and the making and the chilling of the crust is 40 minutes. The assembly is 10 minutes. The cooking is 60 minutes and the cooling time is 20. Two hours and 10 minutes before you can slice into it. BUT IT IS WORTH IT !!! I've made it three times already this summer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Night Blooming Cereus

Well the local night blooming Cereus named "Audrey" may have just made a a new North American record for number of blooms in a single night. We counted 23 on Friday night. Unfortunately my flash was not cooperating for the entire event, but here are a few of the scenes from the festivities.

Look at that delicate reproductive apparatus Audrey sports ... eerily hermaphroditic. The last time I posted bout Audrey, I received a comment from a reader in Hawaii who shared with me a link to a plant that grows on a wall surrounding her church in Hawaii.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Moment of Gratitude

I have started to take it all for granted ... the garden and its bounty. It seems a natural act to wander to the garden gate at the dinner hour and forage for green beans, a perfectly ripe tomato, some fresh basil, and a zucchini to put on the grill. What a privilege to have this bounty a few steps away from my kitchen. When you start finding tomato seeds in your hair, you know you have been a little TOO caught up in harvest management, and it is easy to forget how you waited and waited for that first asparagus spear in the spring, the first handful of green beans you could bring to the table, and oh yes a time when all tomatoes in your garden were in a perpetual state of green.

And yet, in the yin and yang that is so present when you are close to the earth, amid this bounty are the signs of its demise ... the sounds of geese in the sky in the early morning, the shortening of the days, the search for the evening sweatshirt. These harbingers of winter, however faint, seem to carry much more weight than do my little seedlings pushing through the earth in spring.