THE MAGIC OF OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES . . . Capturing the joy of summer all winter long.

Through the halcyon days of summer I plundered the garden for the fattest, juiciest,  reddest of red tomatoes.  The days shortened.  Marine fog drifted across the fields poking destructive fingers into the garden.    Time to harvest the tomatoes, ripe or green.    The heady fragrance of tomato leaves surrounded me as I  filled my basket with these last jewels of summer.

The green tomatoes were tucked single layer in closed cardboard boxes.  As they changed colour out they came to sit in a bright window.  Taking the sun.    I had already frozen tomatoes for soups and stews.  These tomatoes were to be oven roasted and frozen.

I cut the little cores out.   Sliced the tomatoes in half.  Placed them in parchment lined pans ( saves scrubbing pans ).   The tomatoes were sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt and freshly ground black paper.  Then  with a breeze  of olive oil and graced with whole sprigs of fresh thyme.

Roast the tomatoes at 275F for about five hours.  Then increase the oven temperature to 300F for the last hour.  Watch these little darlings.  The smaller tomatoes will brown faster and should be removed.  You don’t want them to become dry and brittle.  Toss the dried thyme.    Store the tomatoes in plastic freezer containers with layers of parchment papers between the slices.  Five pounds of fresh tomatoes will reduce down to about one pound.

It really is like magic!   Oven roasted tomatoes on pizza are  nothing short of divine.     Tossed in pasta dishes they are brilliant shots of colour and flavour.      Roasted tomatoes in the humblest of sandwiches takes the sandwich to delicious heights.  Or try coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes  and goat cheese on a baguette.

Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CRANBERRY, APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE . . . the pie that became a cake.

 

This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not.   It’s baked in a pie plate.  It looks like a pie.   But it is a delicious,  easy peasy cake.    The inspiration comes from  Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame,  one of my most favorite cook-book authors.

This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.    It’s an absolutely doodle to make.  It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee.   It is rewarding.   Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.    Could you ask for anything more?  Of course.  Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Waltz over to MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.

 

THE COLONY OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS

There is a dark, sad place where books end their days.    Pencil scribbled school books.  Encyclopedias wealthy with knowledge.    Battered books with fragile thoughts.  No one lovingly turns their pages.  Their words drift away.  Their covers remain closed.  They have no stories to tell.     They are The Colony of Forgotten Books.

She rescued the unwanted books.  Cut deep inside them and released their tales.  Stories of courage and  remembered fields of poppies.

 

No longer cast aside these book whispered of intrigue and romance.

Theirs was a brave new world  where troubadours sang  and soldiers marched.

A world where beautiful creatures gathered together in enchanted forests.

‘”The friends and pleasures of which you speak cannot compare with the joys of which I speak.”  Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan.

She rescued the rejected books .  Saved their words and told their stories once again.


(I dive into the recycling bin at our local Thrift Shop to rescue  books.  The most difficult ones to find are sets of  encyclopedias.   They have long ago gone the way of the dodo bird.  A cut book takes me about two months to put together. )

 

DINNER AT MY LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

FALLS IN LOVE WITH PARIS ALL OVER AGAIN

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I have a little house in Paris.

The door opens onto a quiet street.

Around the corner an old bookstore.  A  thousand stories tumble from the shelves  into my waiting hands.

There’s a tiny bistro resplendent with a zinc bar.  And a blackboard chalked with splendid anticipation.

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I have a little house in Paris with a courtyard.

Fragrant thyme grows round my door.

Tall windows overlook the courtyard.

There’s rusty metal table and two battered chairs,

Nothing is perfect here.

Everything is perfect here.

 

 

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 Grinning wolves spill water into a stone trough.

 Romulus and Remus.

Guarding  my courtyard.  Guarding my dreams

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I have a house in Paris.

Where enfilade rooms lead quietly into each other.

And ancient wood floors whisper the passing of bygone footsteps.

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In the kitchen surrounded by gleaming pots

and ancient cutting boards

I sauté  lamb and sausages.

Simmer Tarbais beans to a silky softness.

Crisp the golden duck confit.

The cassoulet bakes.

I break the crust again and then again.

table set

I’ve shined the silver.

Ironed the linen.

Polished the floors.

Edith Piaf fills my little house with songs of love.

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I brush the silver dust of Paris from the balcony railing.

It is that suspended moment in time.

Not day.  Not night.

Twilight.

I lean out.

Far out.

I can see my Monsieur Tinny and beloved Theadora dancing down the tree-lined boulevard.

We will raise our glasses.

Tonight we celebrate our love of Paris.

LIVING WITH JOYOUS MEMORY . . . SOUVENIRS OF OUR CHILDHOOD

She safeguarded memories.  Behind glass.    Away from curious fingers.  Inquisitive questions.    Beloved treasures.  Souvenirs of her childhood.

An old letter.  Dolls worn with love.    Small bits and pieces of her life.

On the shelves she placed beloved objects.  Liberating the past.   They had sustained her.   She opened her heart and shared  her soul.  This is my poetry.  These are my day dreams.

Embrace these simple pleasures.  These happy, bitter-sweet  memories.   This joyous parade  will follow me to the end of my life.

 

 

AMARETTI COOKIES . . . wickedly wonderful classic Italian cookies

An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude.    It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness,   heady with the perfume of almonds,  perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness.

Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked cookie one encounters in North America.   This Italian confection dates as far back as the 1700s, and is ancestor of the ubiquitous French macaron.   It is a cookie equally at ease with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of sparkling Prosecco.

Amaretti cookies  have the same almond base and deliciously chewy texture of a French macaron, but unlike the macaron it is a snap to make.  One simply whips up egg whites, folds in sugar and ground almonds and rolls the morsels in sugar.  There’s very much a Christmas feel about amaretti cookies.    They are so decadently,  deliciously different.

Don’t wait for Christmas to bake these cookies.  This is stoned fruit season, and these cookies are a marriage made in heaven when you serve them with home-made peach ice cream.    My favorite bakery in Toronto, BOBBETTE & B ELLE,  introduced me to these glorious cookies.

The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

 

TREAD SOFTLY ON MY DREAMS

 

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

William Butler Yeats wrote these words in 1889.  Every day I follow the dreams of Miss Celi of THE KITCHENS GARDEN blog.    Her words had  me searching through the third poetry volume of The Wind Among the Reed.  This is a dreadful day with the images of Barcelona  refusing to leave ones mind.  We need all the light and all the dreams we can gather and we need to share them with all humanity.