A Few Good Tomatoes

tomatoes covering the dining table

If you don’t follow me on Instagram (frangrit), you probably missed the comment-inducing photo of my dining table coated in a layer of ripening plum tomatoes. Yes, covered. Dan’s rough estimations put the tomato count at somewhere between 300 and 400. That is a lot of tomatoes.

The thing is, a hurricane was barreling up the coast. It was imperative that I pick them before they became waterlogged and ravaged by the wind. So, one afternoon I spent a few hours in the tomato beds at the farm, and hauled out two five-gallon buckets full of blushing tomatoes. Farmer Don assured me they’d ripen off the vine — “on your porch” was what he said, and I should be so lucky as to have a porch that sunlight actually reaches (have you seen my backyard?). But they ripened just fine on the table in the sunniest room in the house, and Dan and I were content — somewhat — to eat our dinner on the coffee table in the living room, seated on the floor, with the dog peering hungrily over our shoulders.

Sadly, some of these tomatoes were lost to some spotty rot, but I managed to salvage almost all of them, or cut out the less offensive spots. Then, just like last year, I proceeded to roast, sauce, and can them over a period of two weeks.

Tonight, the weather calls for a frost, so this is probably the very last I’ll see of tomatoes for another ten months. Goodbye, my darlings; I loved you so!

Smashed Carrots with Cumin & Caraway

smashed carrots with cumin & caraway

We were thankfully safe, and relatively dry, after Irene raged through town, but some of our neighbors were not so lucky. It was hard not to feel just a little embittered at the folks down in New York shouting Overrreaction! while whole towns and historic covered bridges rattled down swollen rivers in Vermont.

But, like I say, we were safe and dry, and only lost power for a few minutes. Which meant that my emergency plan of grilling and canning the rapidly melting food in the freezer thankfully never came to fruition. Instead, one rainy evening, I made a meal that looks toward autumn, while still taking full advantage of the plentiful; produce of summer — roast local chicken (Square Roots Farm), small salted red potatoes, chard sauté with dill, parley, and green onions, and smashed purple haze carrots with cumin and caraway. The last one is the recipe I want to share with you today.

Smashed Carrots with Cumin & Caraway Recipe

From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

The delightfully eggplant-toned purple haze carrots look nice in this dish, but regular carrots will look and taste great, too — they take on a vibrant orange hue when cooked. I found that a sprinkling of dukkah — not to be confused with dukkha — perfectly compliments the light savoryness of the carrots, and adds a satisfying crunch. Use freshly ground spices if you can. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I’ll grind my spices in a mortar, but a coffee grinder reserved for spices only will do.

  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch thick coins
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground caraway
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • chopped cilantro
  • dukkah (optional)
  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the carrots and garlic and cook until the carrots are tender. (Pierce one with a fork to test its doneness — they take longer than you’d think.)
  2. In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. To the onion, add the cumin and caraway and a bit of salt and hold over the heat for a minute or two, until fragrant.
  4. Add the cooked carrots, stir, and cook for a few minutes more to let the flavors mingle. Turn off the heat and smash the carrots with a fork or potato masher. A rough texture is perfect here. Add the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve topped with cilantro and dukkah.

Kimchi Fried Rice

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi fried rice is the ultimate hangover lunch.

I’m developing a bit of a Korean food addiction, and it’s all thanks to my dear friend Lina, who sent along a simple book of Korean recipes after she visited us recently.

First, I made a few batches of cucumber kimchi. Easy. (Undeniably delicious, too.) Then, I branched out to the  more traditional kimchi, using locally-grown cabbage from Square Roots Farm, and kohlrabi and garlic chives from our CSA. My recipe was a sort of hybrid of Tigress’s, and David Lebovitz’s. It seems nearly impossible to really mess it up. It sat on the counter for about a week, and has that fermented, sharp, spicy, crunchy kimchi thing going on — you know what I mean if you love kimchi. If I had the capacity, and stamina, to make the 20 or so pounds Tigress makes, well, I’d be a happy (and garlicky) woman.

In the meantime, I dump great crimson piles of kimchi on just about everything, and I prepare this, the ultimate hangover lunch: kimchi fried rice.

kimchi fried rice, topped with an egg

Yes, I am one of those people who hates runny eggs.

Actually, scratch the hangover modifier. This is just a really good lunch. Top it with a fried egg, and feel free to swap in other vegetables or even meat. The original recipe calls for 4 ounces of pork loin to be browned with the onion in a little bit of vegetable oil, before adding everything else. Also, although I used white rice, brown works, too — and it really is best with leftovers (though that hasn’t stopped me from making a pot of rice in the morning to fry later that afternoon). However you do it, it’s fantastic, and it’ll take all the willpower you can muster not to eat both servings straight out of the pan as you hover over the stovetop, chopsticks — or fork — in hand.

Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe

Adapted from Quick & Easy Korean Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1 tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 3 c. cooked rice, chilled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 c. kimchi and its liquid, coarsely chopped if in large pieces
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • toasted sesame seeds

Serves 2

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and zucchini and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is very soft and the zucchini begins to brown. Add the rice, breaking it up with your spoon or spatula, and cook, stirring, until the grains are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and kimchi and cook for a few minutes more to warm everything through. Season with salt to taste and put the rice in a serving dish.

Return the skillet to heat, and add a bit more sesame oil. Fry the eggs in the sesame oil until they’re cooked to your liking. Dole out individual portions of the rice, topping each with an egg, and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately.

Preserving the Bounty 2011

dilly beans

Dilly beans, pre-bath

For the third year in a row, Berkshire Grown is offering a spate of canning and preserving workshops throughout Berkshire county. The first, tonight, is a kid-friendly pickling workshop at Wild Oats in Williamstown. The events continue through August and September, covering cheesemaking, lacto-fermentation, preserving in spirits (that sounds appealing!), seed saving, and more.

Check out the full calendar at the Berkshire Grown website for details.

In the Raspberry Patch

raspberry aisle

Aisle of raspberries at Caretaker Farm

We must be nearing the end of summer, because the weather has turned hazy, with filtered yellow light settling down over everything. And every afternoon I hear the sound of a particular summertime insect — maybe you know it? The one that sounds like a sizzling electrical wire? That bug means it’s hot, said Dano the other day. It’s true.

Last Friday at the farm I found myself waist-deep in a patch of raspberries, turning over leaves in order to find the ripe ones. Then I found this fellow.

butterfly

I don’t usually snap shots of bugs or wildlife, but I grabbed my camera. What a summer, I thought. What a place.