In the Words of Stevie Wonder: Isn’t She Lovely?!

Dragon's Tongue wax bean

Isn’t she wonderful? I do believe that is the prettiest vegetable I have ever grown.  Ever.  I want to marry this bean and have its babies.  The sad thing is that the stripes apparently disappear upon cooking.  In the words of Sarah: sad.  Still, I am in love.  Brian’d better watch out!

And yes, those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that is tomato leaf that sneakily made its way into my photo.  I was trying to hide it from you because I’m ashamed, but that is a mystery volunteer tomato that I have no ability to murder.  My lack of plant-murdering skills is rivaled only by my lack of bunny-murdering skills.  Again – sad.

Moving on.

Other pretty things:

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup, handsome rooster extraordinaire!

Soupy boy

Please don’t mind the scabs on his comb.  For evidence of cause of said scabs, please see previous post, or click here.  Getting kicked in the face does nothing for one’s complexion.  What’s a beautiful boy to do?

The Soup Man

Pretty froggy on my cabbage…

Hopefully eating all the caterpillars that are making such pretty lacy leaves.  I love them so.

As you may have noted, weeding is not my thing.  So sue me.

Pretty froggy on my Three Sisters’ pumpkin leaf:

Pretty froggy on my front walk:

I LOVE MY FROGGIES!!!!!

Pretty red dragonfly:

Pretty ladybugs, doing their pretty jobs in my pretty (ok, weedy) garden:

ladybug on dillweed

ladybug on French Gold pole bean plant

Pretty baby Potimarron French pumpkin.  Not sure if it’s pollinated or if it’s going to shrivel up and fall off like all the others so far (hand-pollination here I come!).  I’m pulling for knocked up.  We’ll see.

Pretty diseased French Gold bean leaves.  Not sure what’s causing it.  Closest description I can find seems to indicate mites.  I’m gonna go look for them this evening.  Hopefully that’s it because apparently you can knock them off with water, or at worst, insecticidal soap.

Pretty diseased apple leaves:

I have been trying to diagnose them.  I still can’t figure it out.  The leaves look a little like many different apple disease pictures that I can find.  All diseases seem to stem for the very long, wet, cold spring we had.  This is the same apple tree that looked so awesome and healthy and even had a baby apple or two on it earlier in the year.  Now I don’t know if it’s going to even live.  Blah.

Moving on to happier things…

Pretty green tomatoes!

Pompeii Roma

baby Pork Chop tomatoes

more mature Pork Chop tomato

Like the Sweet Carneros Pinks, the Pork Chops start to resemble their Green Zebra ancestors once they get close to maturity.  They’re hard to photograph because my two biggest ones are all hidden in the rampant foliage.

pretty strands of Sungolds

Pretty Rose Tomato

The Rose tomato is particularly exciting, not just because I love all things even remotely related to roses, but because I thought I planted these last year only to discover that I had two Costoluto Genoveses instead, and no Rose tomatoes.  I was a sad Lisa.  And then this year, the plant has been getting bigger and bigger with lots of flowers that just turn brown and fall off.  I thought it was going to be a dud.  No Rose tomatoes for me.  But then I found this lovely lady this morning and I now have a reason to live!

Pretty Marconi Red sweet pepper

Finally it was cloudy this morning and the pepper is a bit bigger and so finally I could photograph it.  Doesn’t it look like an elf shoe?  I have quite a few of these set on three plants, which is very exciting.  I picked them specifically because they are supposed to be nice and sweet and productive even in a cooler northern climate.  YAY PEPPERS!!!!!

pretty happy chickens

And last but not least, pretty fruit tart (photographed in crappy light):

old-fashioned blueberry tart

Fresh fruit tarts are such an awesome thing to do with all this beautiful summer fruit, and if you have chickens, it helps you eat through your egg surplus with six yolks in the pastry cream.  My tart dough doesn’t use an egg yolk, but many do, so you could actually use up seven eggs in this if you wanted :)


Fresh Blueberry Tart

adapted, ever-so-slightly, from Chez Panisse Deserts

Pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2-3 Tbs sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 10 Tbs butter (most chefs will tell you to use unsalted.  I use salted, so shoot me.  I could for a long time about the pros and cons.  use whatever you like.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and zest.  Cut butter into 1-Tbs slices, and work it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter left.  Room-temp butter is ok with this dough, unlike with Pate Brisee (pie crust, whatever you want to call it).  Just don’t work it too much or your crust will be tough.  Mix water and vanilla and work it gently and briefly into the dough until it starts to come together.  Gather it into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest for half an hour in the fridge.  Press rested dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure to create and even thickness on the bottom and sides.  Wrap entire pan in foil, and put in freezer for 30 minutes to relax the dough and prevent shrinking.  While it is resting, preheat the oven to 375F.  Bake shell for about 30 minutes, or until light golden brown, removing the foil after about 10 minutes of baking.  No need to weight.  Let cool completely.

Lemon-Scented Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk, preferably pastured organic*
  • zest of 1-2 lemons, meyer lemons if you have them
  • scant 1/3 cup flour
  • 6 Tbs sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • vanilla to taste

In a small saucepan, heat milk and lemon zest to just under boiling.  Do not boil!  Look for steam to come off the milk and it’s ready.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk flour and sugar.  In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and pale.  When milk is hot, mix into flour/sugar mixture, whisking vigorously as you add the milk to prevent lumps.  Cook milk mixture over medium heat, whisking the entire time until it has boiled for a minute or two.  Carefully ladle some of the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to warm them slowly and prevent curdling.  Then, pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk, whisking constantly, and continue cooking until thickened and whisk marks hold a slight shape.  Do not let it boil (ok, mine boiled a little and it was fine, but you’re not supposed to let it boil).

Remove from heat when thickened, whisk in butter, then pour through a fine strainer into a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming, and place in the fridge to cool until you need it.  When your cream is cool and your tart shell is cool, peel back the plastic and whisk in the vanilla extract.  The whisking will smooth the cream.  Spread into cooled tart shell.

Blueberries:

  • 1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries, picked over
  • 3 Tbs quince or red currant jelly, or strained raspberry, blackberry, or blueberry jam, preferably homemade
  • splash kirschwasser (cherry brandy)

In a large saute pan, heat jam or jelly until it is liquid, then add berries and kirsch.  Cook over high heat very briefly, tossing to coat berries.  When they are warmed through and glossy, but before the juices start to run, immediately spoon the glazed berries evenly over the pastry cream with a slotted spoon.  Then get a regular spoon and eat any extra juices from the pan because they are incredible and you cannot possibly throw them away.

Tart can be served immediately, so that the berries are still warm.  However, it will set up and slice better if you chill it for a bit in the fridge first.  It’s up to you.

Bon Appetit!

3 thoughts on “In the Words of Stevie Wonder: Isn’t She Lovely?!

  1. You are quite a talented photographer. Thank you for fresh blueberry tart recipe. I can’t wait to try it out. I noticed you added the phrase “if you have them” in your entry for Meyer lemons. I can sure relate to that. “Meyer Lemons are like love. Sometimes hard to find, but well worth the wait.”

    Where I live we don’t have easy year-round access to fresh Meyer lemons. But I’ve figured out a solution. What I do is just go online (http://www.buy-meyer-lemon.com/ ) and order directly from growers that pick them right off the trees and ship them direct — a tip I learned from my cousin in Canada. This way I get fresh Meyer lemons picked from the tree without all the time sitting in cartons, trucks and warehouses on their way to market where they lose their freshness.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I am lucky to get meyer lemons from my parents’ trees several times a year. I bring bags back on the plane with me when I visit California, or my parents bring bags up when they visit me. Also, seasonally they are often available at whole foods’ and other similar markets. However, I would really encourage people to try to grow their own… they do quite well in pots and can be kept indoors in the winter in colder climates. The trees are readily available at most nurseries and require little care.

  3. Your blueberry tart looks divine! And I would spray that apple tree with lime sulphur this winter (like Jan/Feb). You can find it at most garden shops. Be sure and clean up any fallen leaves and burn them over the winter and spray any evergreens in the vicinity as well. It should bounce right back this spring. Good luck!

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