The seasons turn around and the old familiar meals come back onto the table. We’ve waited half a year for these yummy tastes and flavours to come back into our lives. When I weed in amongst the new tomatoes plants and brush the leaves, I get that amazing tomato leaf fragrance wafting up. It makes me hungry just to smell it. Funnily, after 3 or 4 months of summer picking tomatoes, that smell starts to become a little oppressive?
We are still waiting for most of the summer veggies to arrive. The tomatoes are flowering and the zucchinis have set some fruit, but they are slow developing. We have plenty of lettuces and radish. I have managed to find the time to get a few things planted during this last few months of hectic work.
I found the inspiration and therefore time, to make 3 mulberry tarts during the short 3 to 4 weeks of the mulberry season. They are now all long gone, all finished off by the birds. However, the youngberries are now back in season and I made the first youngberry tart on Monday. So delicious! I’ve missed the sharp sweetness of the youngberries for the past 11 months. Their season is just as short as the mulberries. We make the most of it while the fruit is here for the picking. They’ll be all gone before Xmas. I think that this small window of availability for special seasonal fruits makes them all the more special. We notice it particularly because we eat what we grow. Everything, every unique flavour, every special aroma and specific texture and taste is here for such a short time. We have learnt to really appreciate these gifts when we can.
We are naturally busy kinds of people. There is always so much that we want to do. So it’s important to take the time out to enjoy these little gifts from the garden and orchard while they are there.
By the end of the season for each fruit variety we have usually had our fill and are ready for the next special treat. If these fruits were available all year for us, we would become somewhat blasé about it all, our enthusiasm killed off by over indulgence, then perpetual availability. This doesn’t happen when you grow your own. For most people, everything is available all year round in the supermarkets, if not fresh then frozen. Modern grocery shopping has no seasonal calendar anymore. Everything is demanded all the time. So it’s always there in one form or another. I tend to avoid this as much as I can. I’m not pretending that I don’t eat out of season, of course not. I’m human. I still go to the supermarket. But I go with a list and a purpose. Eyes straight ahead. I buy what I don’t grow. Cheese, lentils, chick peas, bread flour, coconut milk, olive oil and fish. Things that I can’t grow, or not efficiently.
Of course I don’t buy all these things every week. A three litre tin of Olive oil is once every 2 to 3 months. Bread flour is once a month. I make one loaf a week. coconut milk is a couple of tins once a month, etc. and so it goes. Things like tofu, Janine learnt how to make it herself, but there is no time to do everything that you want, something has to give. So our life is an ongoing, shifting, grey scale of compromise of what we want to do and what we absolutely need to do. We’re flexible, so it’s working out pretty well.
I bought a packet of frozen short crust pasty recently, a dozen sheets. That will be enough to get me through the fresh fruit season for making fruit tarts. From the first mulberry tart, to the youngberries, then the cherries, onto the blue berries, followed by the early peaches, plums, apples and then pears and finally the quinces. That’s our summer calendar from November through to March/April.Just writing about it is making my mouth water. I can hardly wait.
To day I’m making the 2nd youngberry tart of the season.
The berries are picked and weighed. The pastry sheet is in the pre-buttered pan and the blind baking beans are in the shell ready for the oven.
While the base is baking at 180 for 10 mins add 140g of sugar, 40g of plain flour, zest and juice of one lemon, some vanilla and cinnamon, then stir.
It looks a mess, but its delicious. Lift out the paper with the beans and continue to bake for another 10 mins
I re-use the crumpled paper over and over for all the tarts throughout the season. Reuse , then recycle.
Pour the fruit mixture into the baked case and bake for another 20 to 25 mins at 180, or until its ready. Depending on your oven.It’s ready when you can see the liquid fruit gel bubbling. When I open the oven door, the fragrance bursts into the kitchen. It’s the warmest most homely smell. Quite appropriate really, as this is a warm, friendly home.
You could add lattice work pastry if you are inclined to and have extra pastry to use up, I sometimes do. Or dust with icing sugar for visual effect, but it’s sweet enough for this post modern peasant.
In the pottery, all the drying shelves are now empty.
In the glaze room, all the bisque shelves are just about empty, as all the pots are in the last two firings. Due to be unpacked tomorrow.We have done 3 bisques and 2 stoneware firings in the small electric kiln and two stoneware reduction firings in the bigger gas kiln in the past 10 days. it’s been all go.
Now the shelves in the gallery are mostly re-stocked and ready for the next two weekends of Open Studio Sales.
Today was a day off while the kilns cool. We did some badly needed weeding in the garden and orchard, then we had a little snooze after lunch as it turned out to be quite hot and the predicted rain didn’t eventuate. Janine spent the afternoon at her friends house for some catchup, R&R, chat and afternoon tea.I baked a tart and a loaf of bread. Same sort of thing really!