Quick post

For quick tomato sauce. There is no stopping the inflow of harvest right now – the baskets practically fill themselves.

Working Girl’s Homemade Tomato Sauce*

Get out your largest stockpot and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Wash the tomatoes, pull off  stems, cut away any blemishes and fill the pot. Add a Tbsp of sea salt. Cover and cook on medium low for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally if you’re around. The tomatoes should be softened and shedding liquid. Turn off the heat, keep covered and let stand overnight.

In the morning, pour off the liquid and heat to boiling for a few minutes – say, while you make your yoghurt fruit shake and get ready for work. Turn off the heat, keep covered and leave for at least 4 hours, or until you get home. Pour off the liquid. Season to taste with salt, sugar, garlic and spices and put it through a food mill to remove seeds and skins and presto – wonderful, very fresh-tasting tomato sauce.

* Don’t blame me for the name. I learned this recipe from a woman I met on the steps of the Good Day Market in Portland. It was a radical idea for me, and I never stood over a steaming pot of tomatoes in the summer heat again.

I’ve never figured out what to do with the clear fluid that rises to the top (tomato water?) to be poured off. It doesn’t taste bad, exactly, but it needs something. Someday I’ll distill a batch and see what type of brandy could be made from tomatoes, but that’s for a day when I’m not working.

Now, back to peaches. . .

Hospitality

Five people for risotto, green bean salad, herbed bread and peach ice cream – it must be August. Somehow, this puts me in the mood for the “Song of the Open Road”. Somehow the last lines have been with me all day today. Apologies, for the excerpting, to Walt Whitman.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!

Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,

The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,

Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,

I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,

However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,

However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,

However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Allons! the road is before us!

It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!

Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!

Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!

Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!

I give you my love more precious than money,

I give you myself before preaching or law;

Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?

Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Omphaloskepsis

Time for some navel-gazing. Below is a collection of search terms that brought readers to this blog over the past few months:

Raspberries (also razberry, raspberrys, rasberry), jam, pie, bush, growing

Still life (also still lives, stull life and still)

Hamburger stand inventory spread sheet. (Really?)

bad composition painting

bed construction (presumably garden beds)

Cinder blocks, cinder block construction, use cinder blocks, cement blocks – one of my biggest referral sites is a cinder block construction company in Arizona.

Blue mason jar

Screw down trivot photos

Amy Pollien, amy pollien, amy pollen, amy pollen bees

Time is but the stream

Poverty cake

Dumping bees into a hive at night time

George Dorr’s caretaker’s cottage

Yokkana seeds

Bonsai sisr

MDI Skate Park

Painting like Janet Fish (Thanks!)

Big Rock redux

Last month our neighbors gifted us with a Significant Rock. It came on a Big Boom Truck – possibly the biggest vehicle to ever climb up our gravel road and I’ll stop with the capital letters now. The rock  has a rather formal placement exactly perpendicular to the front of the house and lined up with one of the window bays. People have actually stopped their cars in the road and commented on it. Then they go on to mention the garden, and their garden back home, and then inquire after lobster, and really, it takes an awesome rock to stop tourists in their pursuit of local seafood. This weekend our neighbors called; “Did our rock want a life partner?”. Of course we said “Yes!”.

K’s boom truck showed up on Sunday afternoon in the pouring rain. I was on my third pair of shoes and already soaking wet, so a little more water wasn’t a problem.

Now reach into the truck. . .

And pull out a rock. . .

And confab on the placement. Because it’s not going anywhere after that webbing comes off.

A beautiful rock, nestled in blueberries. Note the worked edge – this might have been part of a foundation for a Bar Harbor “cottage” lost in the Great Fire. Now it resides with us, forever or until boom truck do us part.

Buoys, or not.

Today I went down to Southwest Harbor for a concert. The Southwest Harborites were also celebrating the annual Pink Flamingo festival (the lawn ornaments are considered native fauna) and the Coast Guard base was having an open house so it was a high time on the village main street. I took the back road down to Clark Point and stopped at this stand to buy a jar of pear jam.

The sign is quite well designed, with the whole positive/negative space thing going on, and “Antiques” is spelled correctly. What happened to “bouys”? Curse those pesky diphthongs!

I bought a jar of pear jam. I’ve tried to make it myself, and could possibly make gallons of the stuff from the Seckel pear tree’s bounty, but my trial batches were gritty and insipid. This jar from Maine’s Own Treats has a nice clear color. The contents list includes: Pears, Sugar, Applesauce, Apple Juice and Pectin. Applesauce sounds like it might be the secret ingredient. We’re going to try the jam out tomorrow on Sunday waffles and then I’ll decide if this combination is worth another experiment.

I like the “We’re Open” sign, too. There wasn’t a soul around – what changes when they’re closed?

Do you have $845,000.00?

And would you like to own a barber shop? Ray’s is for sale in the village. Built in 1887, the combination plumbing office and barber shop has been a fixture for decades. The building has four rental units plus the two shops, and at 3/4 of a million dollars is the least expensive commercial property available on the island – which just boggles the mind. Full of character it might be, but at $845,000.00 I think it’s probably a “tear-down” on Main St. We have plenty of salons on MDI, but only one honest-to-buzz-cut barber shop. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

Compass Harbor

Wednesday I had a stuffy day, full of stuffy doctors’ offices stuffed with sick people and lab tests, so when the end of the day rolled around, I took a walk.

Compass Harbor was the home of George Dorr, Acadia National Park’s first superintendent and the “Father of Acadia”. Dorr Mountain looms over the foundations of the house that are all that’s left from the Great Fire, and the stone stairs that sweep down to the ocean. Huge trees have grown up along the easy walk from Rte. 3 to the Harbor, including many exotic escapees from the formal gardens that once surrounded the estate.

I walked down the trail (you can’t really call it hiking) all the way to the point, and the view down Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands. Bald Porcupine boasts a 2,500′ breakwater that protects the harbor from southern storms. Local legend has it that J. P. Morgan paid for the Army Corp of Engineers to build it in 1918, to keep his 340′ yacht “Corsair” from rocking too much during cocktail hour. Meanwhile, George Dorr was building “Dorr’s Swimming Pool” – a much more modest project that still involved several tons of cut square blocks of granite. The walls enclosed a shallow part of the harbor with a sandy beach, so that his caretaker’s children could paddle safely in the warmer water no matter what the tide. You can still see the blocks, forced apart now by storms, and the little beach. Somehow the unseasonably balmy day and the setting sun gave the rich man’s project a little glow of affection; lessened the annoying overlay of privilege and exposed the huge, ruined, expensive project as a passing gift from an old man to someone else’s children.

Spaetzle

Spaetz is Swabish for “Sparrow”, so spaetzle are “little sparrows”. I’m not really all that clear on the relationship between small, soft egg noodles and baby birds, but whatever. I like it, and I think that’s what I’ll call them from now on.

I made spaetzle last night, and forgot to take a picture of the finished dish, which was delicious and quite attractive. The recipe is extremely easy and fresh pasta is such a treat – it’s really wonderful to be able to make it without an expensive pasta maker and the extra work of drying and tempering. I’d even suggest this for a work-night dinner; fast, uses common ingredients and is capable of being reinvented with every sort of leftover.

For this recipe you will need a colander with large holes, say 3/8″ diameter. Several sources suggest using the large holes of a cheese grater, but the surface is small and hard to hold above the pot. I bought a .99 cent plastic colander at the grocery store which works beautifully or you could buy a spaetzle-board for about $12.00.

You can tell I got a little carried away with the colander. . .

Spaetzle for two or three – the recipe doubles easily.

2 eggs, 1/3 C whole milk, 1/4 C parsley, minced; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 1/3 C all-purpose flour. Mince the parsley very fine.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large bowl, add the eggs, milk, parsley and salt and mix well. Add the flour a little at a time while mixing – the dough should be a little runny. Let it sit for 10 minutes. If it sits longer than that, it will begin to “bind”, so add a little more milk at that point.

Carefully hold the colander over the pot of boiling water (or place the spaetzle-board across it), spoon the dough into the container and then push the dough through the holes with the back of a wooden spoon. Wriggly “little sparrows” will drop into the water, fall, and then rise as they cook. I wait 3 or 4 minutes, but taste one at about 2 minutes. They don’t take long to cook and a lot depends on the consistency of your dough.

Drain the cooked spaetzle and, when most of the water has run off and they begin to dry, spread them on an oiled cookie sheet (I use a Silplat) until you’re ready to use them.

For the basic dish, simply saute the spaetzle in butter and serve with applesauce.  I toss them with roasted broccoli and sauteed leeks, topped with Parmesan, but I’ve also had them with tomato sauce, with a glaze of reduced cider and topped with bread crumbs – go nuts!

We had creampuffs for dessert, with creme anglais and chocolate ganache. Next post is the recipe, which is blindingly easy.