Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Salad Days and Wokky Evenings

Ah the late summer heat..... It has us toiling in our garden before sunrise and taking early walks with Spencer before the world becomes too hot to potter around in, then spending the day indoors doing other things. There are always creations in the works in studio or darkroom, domestic alchemies to be undertaken too: processing veggies for the freezer and baking bread, marshaling quart (liter actually) sealers of pickles, relishes and tomato sauce like legions of foot soldiers and tucking them into the downstairs pantry for next winter. At the end of the day there is tea and a good book, a little Mozart or Sibelius on the sound system, the companionship of clan and kindred village spirits.

Dinner is often just a bowl of freshly picked garden salad or a lightly wokked melange of some kind, lightly tossed in Tuscan olive oil and lemon juice or dressed in a fragrant invented-on-the-spot dressing with a little curry tossed in to kick things up a notch. I could live on grilled eggplant or baba ghanoush and am considering it.

Ed Brown's The Complete Tassajara Cookbook is on the kitchen counter along with Deb Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Annie Somerville's Everyday Greens, and all three tomes are getting a good work out this year.  The last was illustrated by Mayumi Oda, and it's a treat for both eyes and plate, gorgeous art and recipes all together in one volume.  Stirred by what I am reading and seeing, I sometimes get all caught up in the colors and textures in front of me and stand for several minutes just looking down into the clear glass salad bowls and their contents.  Purple aubergines, scarlet tomatoes and festive little carrots, all are talking to me.  I swear it is so.

A friend dropped by a few days ago and came bearing gifts, not bottles of wine or loaves of bread, but an artfully tied and ribboned bouquet of Thai basil, Greek oregano and cilantro, lovelier by far than a florist's creation and gloriously fragrant - the scent has lingered in the kitchen since the bouquet arrived at our threshold.There is something almost indecently sumptuous about these summer culinary creations and spontaneous giftings from neighbors, an element of improvised ritual and thanksgiving.  How can one not give thanks for the astonishing bounty coming into season, the goodness being held out to us by Mother Earth?  Our cups and our baskets are running over with it all.

1 comment:

Kiki said...

a most precious post - you're so very right with everything you describe (maybe w. exception of the curry...)
you sd see the tons of photos i have stored of 'just a clear glass bowl filled with summer leaves and tomatoes'.... i too love freshly made ratatouille, and i added two sprigs of mint to my summer bouquet of roses, hydrangeas, wild fennel, lavender, and stuff from the garden - smells heavenly.
had a 'dinner' of 6 overripe apricots from the Sunday market in Paris - summer delights!
one of my sisters told me on the phone that she was offered garden veggies and that she was happy to have many meals of courgettes, toms from a neighbour, young patatos and more from their own garden and we all are so thankful for those 'offerings'
bon app├ętit and thank you for the quiet, happy evening. reading and listening to music is another pass-time for me - so sleep well.