Tag Archives: Summer

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8 Aug

Well lookit that! I can grow tomatoes!

We just got back from a whirlwind 18-hour trip to Wolfeboro, N.H. (More on that later. What a trip!) and this is what we found waiting for us.

My mind reels … Pasta? Salad? BLTs? Eat them one-by-one out of hand?

Click through to see who’s who. And feel free to share your tomato triumphs and ideas in the comments.

And for more on the tomato chronicles click here and here.

Squashed

29 Aug

Dear friends, please try this soup.

Take some onions, or maybe a few leeks (three would be ideal) and soften them in a little canola oil and butter.  Add two cloves of garlic, chopped and one sweet-hot pepper sliced (I used one from the garden that was either a Bull Nose or a Leutschauer paprika pepper, but you could probably use one small sweet red pepper and a bit of a hot pepper and get the same results).

When the aromatics are soft and sweet add a lot of peeled and cored squash, and I do mean a lot, like five pounds worth.  Then add about two cups of water and a mushroom-flavored stock cube, bring to a boil, bring down to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is tender. Season with a healthy dose of lemon juice, salt and if you have it, some ground Grains of Paradise.  Then puree with an immersion blender, or very carefully in a blender-blender.  Serve it with a minted yogurt sauce (yogurt, finely chopped mint, one finely minced small shallot or Egyptian onion and a little lemon juice and salt).

This soup is the most surprising thing I’ve made with all the ridiculous vegetables coming out of our garden this summer.  It’s creamy,without having almost any dairy in it (and honestly, I think you could make this vegan without sacrificing an inch of flavor) and it has the most profound, sophisticated, honest summery flavor I’ve ever run across in a soup.

I based my recipe on this recipe from the September 2006 Gourmet that I ran across while making blackberry jam (there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting for things to boil) on Tuesday (18 half-pints!), but bent it to the vegetables I had at hand, so no potato and no carrots (there’s some out in the garden, but I was feeling lazy).

Need convincing that squash soup is delicious? You’re in very good company! Head below the jump for the hard sell.

Bounty

20 Aug

So, it turns out that I can grow tomatoes after all.

Just very, very slowly and one at a time. I’m a deliberate ‘mater farmer, obviously!  Little Roaslita has some amigas, but the plant has a touch of something. I’m just hoping that now that the weather is so hot and dry that she can hold the nasties (and the crows) at bay.

And while I’m excited at the promise of some real homegrown tomatoes to snack on, if you can believe it I’m actually sad that I don’t have any more green tomatoes.  Just as I was finishing up a batch of green-tomato ketchup¹ (the final four plants I had in the garden succumbed to the blight), flipping through a cookbook while the cans boiled, I came across a recipe for green tomato pie².

Oddly enough, the recipe sounds a bit like the Shaker Lemon Pie that you were all exclaiming about on my last post.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it at the end of the summer when those farmers that have actually been able to grow tomatoes this year will be off-loading their greenies.

But while this year I’m a minimalist tomato grower, I’m a maximalist with everything else.  We have squash the size of your arm, and some the size of your head.  The eggplants and peppers are so leaden with fruit I’ve had to stake nearly every one of them.  And then there’s the beans.

Drowning in veggies? Head below the break for a few good recipes.

Things I’m Loving

6 Jul

It’s been a very easy summer to complain about.

The weather has been dreadful and the hours at work long and exhausting, and that has meant that finding the time to keep the Granny Cart up to date has been nearly impossible.  I begin a post and then it sits for a week, sometimes two, until I find the time to complete it.  And then, when the post is finally done, it’s nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be.

So, in an attempt to not dwell on the negative, allow me to paraphrase Juliet:

Swear not about the rain, the near constant rain, that daily changes good dirt to mud, lest my prose prove likewise dour.

In a move that may surprise those that know me in real life, I’d like to stop complaining for a minute, and focus on the good things, because in the rare moments when the rain has stopped, it’s actually been quite an awesome summer.

So, in no particular order, Things I’m Loving, Summer 2009.

The Red Barn‘s Tiny ‘Tinis. 2 oz Martinis. Perfect in both concept and execution.

I swear, not all the things I’m loving this summer have to do with booze! So head below the jump to check out the rest, and to let us know what’s been keeping you happy this summer, too.

The Sounds Of Summer

10 Jul

With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel, at this time of year, darkness is my old friend.

Bird On A Wire

By the time I’m wrapping up my day at work, the building has shut off the a/c and I’ve been sitting at my desk, sweating from both effort and atmospherics, for on some days, over two hours. Leaving the sweltering confines of my cubicle and stepping out onto the half-lit, hurly-burly of lower Fifth Avenue feels refreshing.

Fly On A Fern

And by the time I step onto the by-comparison-silent sidewalks of Bay Ridge, the sun is nothing more than a spectacular neon bruise over Staten Island, bent into gaudy fractals by the evening’s weather pattern stomping across the harbor.

At The Top of Touch-Me-Not Mountain

The darkness makes it feel cooler, but it’s the sounds of the city settling into stillness that help erase the day’s woes. Let’s be honest, there are no sounds of silence anywhere in New York City. But stillness? Yes, stillness is something we can do. Stillness has a sound; many little noises melting into a gentle swell of quietness. Cats mewling for dinner, dogs yapping at planes, the Yankees game on my neighbor’s radio while she grills steaks for dinner, birds wishing each other good night, an easing of traffic, teenagers strolling hand-in-hand whispering as they head for home.

Dandelion

I’ve grown used to these noises and find them soothing. So it was a shock to arrive at our friends’ house in the Catskills on July 4th to the cacophony of the country; the rustlings and bustlings of animals settling in for the night, the whizzes and whistles of birds catching dinner, the humming and droning of mosquitoes, children giggling and screeching while chasing fireflies, dogs gossiping about the day’s events, thunder echoing off valley walls and finally, just past sundown, fireworks popping and booming in patriotic celebration of the day.

Shadows, Light

And what a revelation the morning was! What lies in a bird’s heart that makes it sing with such gusto and glee first thing in the morning? Is it the joy of seeing another sunrise? Happiness at being surrounded by so much greenery? The self realization that the ability to fly is a rare gift? It’s easy to be annoyed with birds in the summer, especially when one has gone to bed too late, full of the world’s most delicious barbecued pork ribs (seriously, better than any of the one’s I’ve ever managed to get here) and possibly one glass too many of rosé.  But one should never be annoyed with birds.

Ferns

What was in reality little more than 40 hours in the country felt like days and days by the time Isaac and I packed up and headed out for a hike on our way home. We were relaxed and well fed and ready to face another week of daunting proportions.

Sun

We arrived home just as Brooklyn was settling in for the evening. I walked to the back of the apartment, opened the fire escape window and reached out into the stillness to pluck two tomatoes off my plant. They were small, but perfectly ripe. I also pinched-off two wee crowns of basil.

Yay! \'Maters!

And then we stood next to the sink, half a tomato each held in our hands, and ate them with a dusting of sea salt and a few tiny leaves of basil, in silence.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Mint & Arugula Pesto.

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