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Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

One thing I love about reading blogs is that I come away with lots of ideas. I saw a photo of chicks in a laundry basket at the Kitchen’s Garden, so when it came time to transport some incubated chicks from our flat to our garden, I looked no further than our mesh laundry basket with a Velcro closure. At Garden to Wok I have discovered new vegetables to grow (I have Red Noodle long beans this year) and how to grow them (I now plant all my bok choy in groups of three, a sort of short cut succession planting).
I could go on for weeks. And of course there are recipes. Many times, I have found the answer to the perennial question of what to cook in blog posts like Squishy Monster’s soybean rice or Lois Elsden’s soda bread.
A good friend of mine living in Abu Dhabi often points out interesting blogs for me to read and it was through her that I began to follow the blog Rachel Eats, written by an English woman living in Rome. And one day she posted a recipe for spaghetti al pomodoro – spaghetti with tomatoes. I shuddered. Let me explain. I went to a high school in Rome for three years, the first two and a half years as a day student, and as a boarding student for my last semester. (I did my senior year in Istanbul.) I am not sure how often we were served spaghetti with red sauce, but it was often enough that the mere sight of it was enough to move me to tears of dismay. I am sure that cooking for hordes of sullen teenagers is a joyless affair, and I mean no slight to the brave efforts of the kitchen staff, but I remain deeply averse to spaghetti with tomato sauce.
Still, I read on and found myself willing to try the recipe. It was so simple sounding. Could tomatoes, garlic, oil and a little basil really become something to write about in such luminous terms?
I made the sauce, using the requisite indecent amount if olive oil (I poured it in until my heart began to pound), tossed the pasta in straight from its cooking water and watched a sauce emulsify on the noodles, like magic. I was serving it alongside something else, but as soon as I began to eat the pasta, I forgot about everything else on the table. Then I forgot about the table itself and everyone around it as I ate the pasta and it took me deep into my own thoughts. The velvety slick of sauce was perfect and beautiful. How foolish I had been to doubt that such a simple recipe could be so good – when it is the right season, tomatoes will shine as brightly as they are permitted. Best of all, it took pasta with tomatoes and dragged it out of the school cafeteria once and for all. The recipe is here. Treat yourself.

both hands

It’s good enough to eat with two hands…

 

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Ali and I sat  on the porch for a moment this morning, enjoying the cool of the morning. “We would be watering now,” he said. I can’t recall if he bothered trying not sounding smug. After watering our potted plants and the greenhouse this morning, I went down to the bottom terrace of the garden to pick some tomatoes that had ripened, weeding as I went. I have been hopping from foot to foot waiting for a bowlful of tomatoes (as opposed to a handful).

On the way down, I stopped to say good morning to the chicks, out for their morning scratch-around (we let the chicks out in the morning because the bigs stay in the coop all morning and come out in the afternoon after they have laid). Yes, we finally have some chicks. I kept thinking and thinking that the hens were broody but they never were, and finally after I had given up all hope one of them sat down for three weeks and the result is 8 chicks, hatched in the dead of summer.

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I got my tomatoes (a heavy bowlful — yay!), as well as a few sprigs of basil, and headed back up to the kitchen. On the way up, I noticed that the beans are flowering (and beaning) again. This is Trionfo Violetto, a purple pole bean.

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And I took a peek under the eggplant leaves and was encouraged by what I saw.

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My mother and I are in the midst of a mild polenta obsession, so I thought we could have some polenta and eggs for breakfast. I had some leftover corn stock and my mom had brought a little chunk of Pecorino Romano with her from her fridge, so this is what we ate:

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To follow suit, this is what I did:

Polenta and Eggs with Tomato:

1 cup polenta

2 cups stock (or water)

1/2 cup milk

pinch of salt

1/4 cup grated cheese

poached eggs

Bring the liquids to a boil and pour in the polenta while whisking. Cook slowly, whisking to avoid lumps, for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in grated cheese and spoon a generous amount into a bowl.

Add a cut up tomato, a poached egg, some basil, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

That’s a Brandywine tomato, which I am growing for the first time this year. I know, Brandywines are Heirloom Tomatoes 101, but for some reason I never tried them. Well, they are firmly on the roster now. Now I see what all the fuss was about.

Ali was dismayed to catch my photographing his breakfast; it nearly put him off eating it. He relented, though — and then announced that he was getting a little tired of polenta.

On to the next thing…

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I saw it from afar, as I was watering the bitter melon- a bit of red peeking out from between the leaves of one of the Momotaro tomato plants. We’ve been eating tomatoes for a couple of weeks already, but I’ve been waiting for the Momotaros. It’s a Japanese hybrid that is apparently a popular market variety. I saw it in the Territorial Seeds catalog back in 2009, and somehow ordered them too late to plant them last year. So it was very exciting to be growing them at last. The plants have gotten huge, with enticing clusters of hard green tomatoes. We ate that first tomato for breakfast with a bit of olive oil, and I’m pleased to report that it was very tasty and, as the seed catalog had promised, very sweet.

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We’ve more or less eaten all the corn on this bed, and for some reason it didn’t grow all that tall. I planted some beans under them, though, so I’ll leave them standing for a while. The nicest thing about this bed is all those morning glories- three different kinds. It is one of the many spontaneous eruptions in the garden that so often outshine plantings that we have carefully thought out.

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