Saturday, August 28, 2010

When life gives you green tomatoes...

When life gives you lemons, you're supposed to make lemonade. But what do you do when life gives you green tomatoes?

Fry them, of course!

That's what happened last week. My neighbor called saying that she was going out of town and would I please do her a favor and pick up her farm share (weekly bundle of random and abundant vegetables), and by the way, could I eat it all too?

I call that a gift, not a favor. But, not to waste time with semantics, I assured her that, yes, I would gladly pick up her farm share and eat it all.

What an adventure! I headed out to the farmer's market with 1 6-year-old on a bike, 1 4-year old who insisted on walking, an empty stroller to accommodate someone/anyone/box of veggies, and an enthusiastic dog on a leash. We walked downhill to the market and meandered through it till we spotted the farm truck. The gentleman then proceeded to fill my neighbor's farm share box with a bit of everything in the back of his truck: peppers of various kinds, potatoes, garlic, shallots, corn, a cantaloupe, baby eggplants, basil, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and GREEN tomatoes.

What to do with hard, green tomatoes?

Walking back home, uphill, I had plenty of time to think about it.

Then I remembered that quirky movie from the early 90's. And I fried them up.

How? Well, a different neighbor showed me how about 5 years ago, so I did my best to remember.

First, slice the tomatoes into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices. Dip the slices in beaten egg. Then dredge them in cornmeal/flour/salt to coat. I took a shortcut and dipped them in dry cornmeal mix. Next, fry them in a hot pan with a generous about of olive oil.

Keep in mind, that when I say generous, I don't mean an inch of oil. I mean enough to cover the bottom of the pan and then maybe a dab more.

Finally, flip them like pancakes when they are good and brown and crispy. Fry on that side, adding a tad more oil if necessary. Flip them onto a plate when done. Fry in batches, like pancakes.

I guess I was feeling extra crusty that day, because I served them with breaded tofu.

This whole doing-a-favor-for-my-neighbor has me seriously considering purchasing a farm share next year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That pesky battle: form vs. function

It was mere moments from the time my mother-in-law brought these into my home

that I had a batch of shortbread cookie dough ready for pressing.

Her dear friend and roommate was cleaning out a cupboard and thought of me. Should I be this tickled to be associated with cupboard cleaning? "Send these to Keri and the girls!" the dear friend declared.

I love her declarations.

And I love the synergy between my mother-in-law and her long-time creative comrade.

Back to the cookie presses:

Seeing these made me reach almost reflexively for the butter.

Earthy, yet shiny. Strong, yet delicate.

The girls had a blast pressing the quaint images into the dough.

Alas, the shapes tended to spread and the cuteness was mostly lost. It's a good thing the cookies tasted like a crisp, buttery heaven.

Oh, well, it's a good excuse to try a new recipe.

Surprise abundance.

Check out what I was able to pull from the garden the other day. What an abundant surprise, considering how the garden has been recently pillaged by hornworms, woodchucks, and neglect!

Shrimp and veggie skewers, anyone?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Where have you been all summer?"

That's what blogger said to me the other day.

I've been kept away from the computer, blogging, even all but the most basic of cooking by every manner of distractions this summer.

The main distraction being this:

It's our beloved first home, which is now a rental property, owned by us, and in a vacancy. We've been working like crazy people on everything from grass seed to gutters, carpet to cobwebs, renters to realtors. I'm yearning for the process to come to an end.

The other distraction is this:

Our beloved first dog. She's been with us 2 weeks now and I can't imagine life without her. Wait, yes, I can. I remember what my house looked like without a refrigerator sized crate tucked into one of its nooks, what my mornings looked like without waiting for her to do her business while I slap mosquitos nonchalantly, what mealtimes looked like without instructing children to "Guard your food!" Families with dogs assured me bringing a dog into our home would be an enriching experience. I'm sure it will be. Pretty soon.

Another distraction was this:

Our trip to Alpena. In order for it to be a true vacation, I allow myself a simple pleasure. A pre-vacation shopping spree at Trader Joes for fun, fast lunch options. I barely cooked. I read. I organized my recipe binders. I played with clay.

I hung out with extended family. I watched my daughters get more comfortable with dogs (a prereq for getting our own [see above]).

I took walks.

I posed for yoga shots.

I paddle-boated. I had my toes nibbled by bluegill and screamed.

And now it's August and we've got our sights set on tomatoes and school. They're both looking good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scary Mary, you're not so scary.

Scary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Not very well, seeing as how our new scarecrow, Scary Mary, never took the How To Scare Woodchucks course.

She's made of old girls' clothes and a dried out birdhouse gourd, so she's plenty creepy.

But the woodchucks laugh at her, while munching on my brussels sprouts.

Next year, I think Scary Mary may need some of those plastic fangs.