Well, it seems to be Friday. Not sure how that happened, but here we are.
As fall approaches the nights grow cooler, and we’re spending most of our time outdoors, hip-deep in projects we want to complete before the snow flies. There are trellises to build, tabletops to refinish, pieces of porch furniture to paint, a patio to seal.
And an abundance of garden produce to preserve – or better yet eat.
Every mouthful brings the awareness of the effort, time, and magic behind growing it ourselves. Our food contains meaning. And there is nothing better than a sun-warmed tomato sprinkled with kosher salt and slurped over the sink. Unless, of course, it’s sliced and drizzled with rich, green olive oil, a few drops of syrupy balsamic vinegar, and topped with sliced basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Add a few slices of fresh mozzarella and you have dinner.
The kitchen is fragrant with this herbal arrangement. Purple Thai basil blooms mix with the tiny green basil flowers and bolted oregano. Rosemary spikes out a few places, offset by blue-starred borage, parsley, and a few feathers of bronze fennel. The yellow flower in the middle is calendula.
We eat from the garden morning, noon and night. My favorite breakfast is a pile of wilted chard – more tender than spinach right now – with an over-medium egg on top. Easy enough to tackle the morning after that! For lunch yesterday I ate a huge, purple Cherokee tomato, sliced thick, salted and eaten like a steak with basil flowers and shaved Parmesan.
And dinner? Pasta served with a sauce of carmelized onions, green peppers, and tomatoes, cooked down with a handful each of fresh chopped parsley, oregano and basil, then finished off with a handful of grated Manchego and a dollop of heavy cream.
A few things volunteered in this year’s garden, including two beets. They got so big they became garden art rather than something I thought we’d eat. But I finally picked this beauty – nearly as big as my head – and when I sliced into it discovered ruby-red tenderness rather than the woody horror I’d anticipated. So into the oven to roast it went, one beet big enough to serve with dinner – reheated with butter and plenty of tarragon.
And how, you are of course asking, is the writing going over there at Hearth Cricket? How’s that balance thing workin’ for ya?
Let’s just say balance may not come day-by-day, but over a period of time. I won’t be gardening in January, but will be writing up a storm. And on my calendar I actually scheduled these three weeks after getting back from Seattle to do exactly what I’m doing.
So not much writing, but I’m keeping my hand in with plenty of manuscript reading. Soon I’ll have one in hand from someone in my writing group to review in depth, but this week I’ve been reading a book that will be released in November called The Last Matrushka. The author, Joyce Yarrow, asked me for a cover blurb, and I’m happy to comply since it’s a fabulous read. In fact, I liked it even better than the last book I read, which was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
I’m just sayin’.