I deliberately left July free of extra-work activities, but it flew by and I haven't used my time well. In my defense, I can say that we have remained busy so I've been unable to stay ahead on desserts and a lot of the things we are doing now involve fresh vegetables, which means they must be made in small batches and not very far in advance. As per usual, there are tomatoes and corn all over everything. Tomato sandwiches were duly delivered to both studios of WUNC
and to the offices of Algonquin Books. They were also served to the board of WXYC
at its August meeting which was held in my living room. Although it has become hot and dry lately, this has really been a great summer for local gardens. I almost never run out of heirloom tomato plates and Walter Atwater's
ninety plants have allowed me to use tomatoes lavishly in watermelon salad and on those tarts. The trimmings of all these other dishes have been sufficient to keep me in cold tomato soup (served as always, with popcorn).
The blackberries have finally given out, but it has been a generous season. I was always in too much of a hurry this year to savor my early evening forays and the people I encountered were less involving. There was one guy who was always somewhat wide eyed as he contemplated the money he was saving by picking berries instead of buying them "in the shops." He would actually have beads of sweat on his upper lip and would begin to tremble slightly as he explained his clever thriftiness. The same street people were prowling the bike trail again, and although they looked a little more flinty for another near of being homeless, they were always cordial. At one point we had so much fruit that I would have blackberry pie, blackberry sherbet and blackberries in sabayon
on the menu on the same night. There was also blackberry infused vodka in the bar. There were also a lot of wild plums this year. They are small yellow ones like mirabelles
. They grow in a grove right beside one of my blackberry patches. We had wonderful sorbet and an even more wonderful plum curd for tarts.
One night in mid-month I came home late to an email box full of messages asking if I had seen the food section of the Times. Melissa Clark had mentioned the green peach salad in my cook book in an article she had written. It's remarkable that a piece that wasn't about me and that didn't actually include the recipe at all could stir up such interest. In any case, the salad promptly returned to our menu and I have to say that it is much better than I remember. When you ask your suppliers if the have unripe peaches you are likely to receive a curt "certainly not", but in fact they are fairly easy to find. I have also been using some of the less green ones to make a raw compote that is just sliced peaches, sugar, salt and orange peel. The sugar and salt cause the fruit to "cook". I think it's sensational and we're using it on top of the long absent buttermilk pie.