Garden Update: The Slightly Tart Edition (August 2017)

Time for another garden update!  Things are continuing pretty much along the same trends I’ve been reporting all season.  If you’ve missed my previous garden posts, here they are:

The Early Bird Catches the Rosemary (April 2017)

Garden Update: The Don’t Be Like Me Edition (May 2017)

Garden Update: The Good News and Bad News Edition (June 2017)

Garden Update: The I Have Questions Edition (July 2017)

Bringing us to today!  The tomato plants are still producing, I’m watching like a hawk to stay ahead of the squirrels (I saw one perched on my fence rail the other day, brazenly eating a ripe tomato as the kids and I watched in outrage from the kitchen window) and the basil is basically a tree.

We’re actually on top of the tomato harvest, thanks in large part to – yes, the squirrels – but also to a little boy who cannot get enough tomatoes eaten straight off the vine.  I love that he’s so into the food we’re growing – Peanut is happy to participate in the gardening process, but wants nothing to do with a sun-warmed tomato, freshly plucked straight from the pot.  Break my heart.  Anyway, at the moment we’ve got a big crop-in-waiting, but nothing ripe.  But recently I picked a huge harvest, and it was more than we could eat out of hand (yessssss!) so I cooked the tomatoes down in a little organic olive oil and fresh herbs (also from the garden) – rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil, and set the mixture aside for a special project.

As longtime readers know, Peanut just had a birthday!  Stick with me here.  One of her favorite things to do – aside from garden (and watch cartoons) – is bake with me.  So as a special birthday present, I ordered her a personalized kids’ apron and “Junior Chef” tools from Williams-Sonoma.  I let her open the gift early so she could use it to help me make a tomato-and-herb tart from the garden haul.

She was quite pleased with her new chef accoutrements!  She insisted I call her “Chef Lily.”  I pointed out that that’s not what her apron says, but she was unmoved.

As fun as it was to bake a blueberry pie with Peanut, I didn’t feel like messing around with pastry this time, so I decided we would make a crumb crust using Ritz crackers.  My cracker/cookie crusts never come out, but who cares – right?  It’s about the process.  Peanut enjoyed the heck out of the cracker crumbling.

So did someone else.  Yikes.  Who gave him a Junior Chef spatula?

Crumbs completed, it was time to stir in melted butter and pre-bake the crust, then move on to the rest of the baking process.

Doesn’t get fresher than this – picked moments before the chopping.  I love gardening!

Mixed in mascarpone… And at this point, I forgot to take any more pictures, because Nana and Grandad FaceTimed us and we were chattering while we baked.  We mixed the herbs and a little olive oil into the mascarpone, spread it over the pre-baked crust, and then distributed the pre-cooked garden tomato and herb mixture over the top.  The finished product:

Not too bad looking!  Peanut is a good sous-chef – or maybe I’m the sous-chef, because she seems to be the one doing all the work!  As with the blueberry pie, she participated actively in pretty much every stage of baking.  All I did was the hot stuff (taking the tart out of the oven, and of course cooking down the tomatoes a few days ahead).  I love that we have an activity to do together that we both enjoy so much!

And the verdict?  The adults love it.  The crust hung together better than I was expecting, and the creamy herbed mascarpone is a perfect counterpoint to the flavorful garden tomato jam.  The kiddo… not as big of a fan.  I think she was expecting it to be sweet – even though I told her several times that it’s not sweet – and was surprised by the savory flavor.  Well, I wasn’t actually expecting her to eat any of this one – as long as she had fun with the process, I’m happy!

What’s your favorite thing to bake with summer produce?

3 thoughts on “Garden Update: The Slightly Tart Edition (August 2017)

  1. Happy belated birthday to Peanut! She looks so happy in her apron. You’re the sous-chef, definitely.

    I’m happy to hear your garden is still producing. It looks wonderful. Squirrels are such frustrating creatures. I don’t wish them harm, but I do wish they’d leave my garden alone.

    • Thank you again! Yup, I’m the sous-chef for sure. Squirrels are the worst! They’ve been our nemesis since they ate all of our ductwork when we lived in Mount Vernon, and they’re just totally brazen about eating my tomatoes. Grrrrr! It’s not like I have so many that we can’t eat them all! At least they seem to be leaving my herbs alone. And I’ve learned that I have to get to things that are red and ripe before they do. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

  2. Pingback: The Summer List 2017: Final Tally | Covered In Flour

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