At last!

September 3, 2009

Today I made my first Tomato Pie of 2009. After the chaos of the past, oh, four months, this feels a little like a symbolic and edible sigh of relief.

We’ve invited some new friends to dinner. They, as far as I know, are completely unawares. They are TPVs (tomato pie virgins).

I snapped a quick shot of the cast and crew, some heirlooms that came in this week’s CSA box:

heirloomtomatoes

They are gorgeous, aren’t they? And they made a tasty pie — although I regret to say that it wasn’t as good as last year’s, the tomatoes just don’t have the flavor punch held by the famous sun golds. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the unusually mild weather in central Indiana, it’s apparently been a little too mild for the tomatoes, and everyone says it’s not a good year for them.

But the sun has nothing to do with good gruyere, and that’s the second important ingredient in TP. Today, I trimmed a lot of excess gruyere-infused pie dough before crimping the edges, so I made pie puffs (my nomenclature), a savory take on pie cookies. My mother-in-law taught me how to make pie cookies with leftover scraps of dough: for a dessert pie crust, you brush the scraps with melted butter, add a little cinnamon sugar, and roll them up. Cut them into mini-cinnamon rolls, and bake them with your pie (they finish cooking in about 10 minutes). Today, since I had a savory crust laden with nutty gruyere, I brushed the tops with soft butter and stacked them up. They puffed up into nice little cheesy treats:

pie_cheesepuffs

The last important ingredient in TP is fresh basil, of which I am currently sorely lacking (the movers wouldn’t take live plants, so all of my forward-thinking herbs-in-pots had to stay in Athens). I couldn’t bring myself to pay $3 at Whole Foods for a wimpy pack of untouchable, un-smellable, un-knowable basil, and I knew there had to be some around here, somewhere. So today the kids and I went on a “basil walk.” We knocked on a neighbors door, a few houses down, where a little bird told me there was basil to be had. No one answered, and I didn’t feel like breaking-and-entering the fenced backyard with the kiddos. So we moseyed another block to the “community garden #1,” a totally neglected and overgrown idea that went sour. I knew there was row after row of basil that had long-ago flowered, which meant the flavor would be more in line with licorice — not what the TP needed. But after thorough searching, I found 2 plants that had miraculously not flowered enough to lose their fresh flavor. I “appropriated” what we needed, stuffed little fat hands full of green leaves, and we walked home.

It was a great night. The weather was, really, close to perfect. We ate outside, and enjoyed a really good IPA from a microbrew in Fort Wayne (really? Fort Wayne?). I can’t quite remember the name, since I was so focused on the fact that it came from Fort Wayne (I don’t mean any disrespect to the town, it just struck me as strange, and as a newcomer to Indiana I have no idea why). But it was a really good IPA, which gave me hope for our future here, since our case of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale is only 4 bottles shy of history (the movers didn’t mind loading and unloading a case of beer).

Fall is upon us. There will be some Indian Summer days interspersed, but overall we are turning a seasonal corner. It’s been a little strange; my seasonal clock says that when the weather is like this, I’m supposed to be icing a Barbie’s Chocolate Dream Cake, or planning Thanksgiving dinner. And yet it’s not even Labor Day. I’m ok with that.

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