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Turkey Tracks: Summer Salad

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Turkey Tracks:  September 3, 2013

Summer Salad

 

August is not a great month for tender leaf lettuce.  It’s not a great month for any lettuce for that matter.  It’s too hot.  This year has been a bit different–with all the coolness and rain, some of the leaf lettuce has survived.

The wonderful Melody Pendleton came and bailed me out with painting tasks–which I hate and which she likes to do.  She does such beautiful work.  She brought me this gorgeous lettuce from her garden one day.  (I’ve replanted and my new crop is coming along.)

I made a gorgeous salad with her lettuce one day for lunch.  I’ve been so hungry for sautéed zucchini all summer.  So I sautéed some for this salad–and broke a fresh, soy-free egg into it at the end.  I didn’t add cheese as to the pan as I had some fresh goat cheese.  The last of the grated carrot/kohlrabi/corn/mustardy and garlicky dressing went on the side.  And, some of the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from the garden.  And I had a very quick feast.  Thanks to Melody!  And the garden and the earth and the summer…

 

 

Summer salad

The garden is steadily producing.  Here’s a morning’s offering:

Garden haul

And look at the cherry tomatoes I’ve amassed.  I have enough to start a flat to dehydrate, though I’ll let them get a little riper on the counter first:

Summer Kitchen Counter, Aug. 2013

See those saladette tomatoes at the back of the cherries?  I got those from Hope’s Edge CSA.  And Melody brought me some, too.  They are TERRIFIC roasted in the agro/dolce style.  I learned that from Skye Gyngell’s book A Year in My Kitchen.  Skye takes the notion of having “assets” around the kitchen to whole new levels.  Thanks to Tara Derr Webb, of the Farmbar and Deux Peuces Farm in Charleston, SC, and Awendaw, SC, I have this book in my kitchen.

A Year in my Kitchen

Here’s a very bad picture of the saladettes roasted.  Agro-dolce means sweet/salty.  So, basically, you sprinkle a bit of sugar, a bit of salt, grind over some pepper, and SLOW, SLOW roast at your oven’s lowest heat–which can take 3 or so hours.  OK, if you get in a hurry, you can roast them quicker, and they are still delicious.  They’re good hot or cold.  Rose Thomas, La Dolce Vita Farm, roasts these guys in her wood-fired oven, and oh my gosh–the smoky taste from the wood fire is heavenly.  I’m planting more of these guys next year.

 

Roasted Saladette Tomatoes

With all the vegetables needing to be used, I made a “deep summer soup” one day.  I had some frozen bone broth as a base, so I just sautéed veggies and lots of garlic–some ginger as I had a Bok Choy cabbage–and added some dehydrated mushrooms from a year or two ago.  I threw a handful or two of short-grain brown rice into it as well.  Once it’s cooked, or reheated, I spoon some of my sauerkraut into it and add a dollap of fermented piima cream.  It’s delicious and so good for you with the rich bone broth as a base.

Deep summer soup

I know summer is over, but I can still feel the summer love.

Turkey Tracks: Drying Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

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Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2011

Drying Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

Last year for my birthday on March 17th, Margaret Rauenhorst gifted me with a quart Mason jar full of dried cherry tomatoes.

March 17th is just about the time everyone up here in the snowy north (Maine) gets really hungry for green growing things, like dandelion greens sprouting as the snow recedes.  We become filled with anticipation for what summer gardens will bring, especially as the new seed catalogs with all their glorious pictures arrived back in January.

We inhaled Margaret’s dried cherry tomatoes, each the size of a penny and tasting like dense, chewy candy.  We mostly put them on salads, made with greens grown in my neighbor’s new hoop house–Susan McBride Richmond of Golden Brook Farm.

I determined on the spot to plant a lot of cherry tomatoes to dry for next winter.  My favorites are Sun Golds, which are, sadly, hybrid plants.  (I like to plant heritage seeds.)   And, right now, out in the garden they are ripening, each like a tiny gold sunspot hiding in the green tomato leaves.  The best way to eat them, bar none, is to pick them off the vine and eat them as you stand there in the sunshine.  Or, the rain.  Or, the dusk, Or the fog.  Or, whenever and however you pause to savor something delicious!

Here they are, filling up my harvesting/mushroom basket a few days ago.  They’re still a bit green, but will ripen to a deep gold color in the kitchen.  Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and lend themselves to containers on an apartment balcony in a city.  They can be tucked away in an odd sunny corner of the yard, too.  (We had two days of rain, so we got a BIG zuke.)

Drying them in the dehydrator has been a bit more involved than I had anticipated–in that it takes rather a long time for each one to dry out.  And, because they all ripen at differing times, I’ve been putting them in, one by one, rather than in whole groups.  In about 2 whole days and nights, I’ve only got about 10 dried enough to put in a Mason jar.  They’re somewhat sticky as they dry, and I don’t know if they will mold or not, so likely I’ll store them in the refrigerator so I don’t lose them–especially after all this energy has been expended!  Maybe I should be cutting them in half???

Here you can see my dehydrator working away with one tray inside.  (It came with…4 or 5 stackable trays and costs about $30.)  And, now, you can see the beautiful sunny gold of these tomatoes.

 And, now you can see what they look like drying inside the dyhydrator:

Aha!

I checked Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, since I remembered a recipe in there for dried cherry tomatoes.  Camille Kingsolver does cut them in half and puts them skin side down on the tray.  And, here’s Camille Kingsolver’s recipe, found on page 295.  (For this or other recipes, you can go online to www.AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.)

 DRIED TOMATO PESTO

 Put the following ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add a little water if it seems sticky, but the mixture should be thick enough to spread on a slice of bread:

2 cups dried tomatoes, 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (crispy, please), 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cut grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup dried basil, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons balsamic or other good vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

BASIL OIL 

So, ok.  For the basil, I think I’d defrost and use some of my basil oil, taken from A YEAR IN MY KITCHEN, Skye Gyngell–which has been recently updated with American measurements (she’s British).  Basically, you put a LOT of basil in a food processor (3 bunches or more), 3-4 cloves of garlic, some salt, and start the processor.  Drizzle in olive oil until you have a smooth paste/sauce.  Freeze in those very small Mason jars (1/2 cup?) and enjoy all winter.  This oil is especially nice served alongside meat–grilled steak, roasted chicken, etc.