the gregarious homebody

Monday, August 23, 2010


 See?  {Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge}.

We have tomatoes! My plants are HUGE and have been full of large green tomatoes for what seems like months but they're finally FINALLY ripening.

And some of them suck.


Because I am an erratic record-keeper when it comes to my gardening (and, okay, my life), I can't remember two of the tomatoes I planted.  I mean I remember planting them, but I have no idea what kind they are.  They are both "heirloom" and therefore, supposedly tastier.  Supposedly is the key word here because the red ones taste exactly like nothing.  A wet nothing.  The other one, which is a beautiful yellow (and HUGE) are delicious.  So it would be helpful if I remembered their names because there is no way in hell I would buy the first one again and the second one is a Must Plant for next year.  Oh well.

I do remember the name of the third plant for some reason.  It's called a {Green Zebra} and they are a small tomato--not cherry-size but small. They are gorgeous and delicious when fully-ripened or not.  I got {rully rully} excited and thought they were ripe because they were this awesome bright yellow with the green stripes and were delicious like that but then I just found some that had turned red (wow!  a red tomato!  ...this is the kind of gardener I am) and they too were delish.   But holy crap, I just checked the link I just sent you to and they're supposed to be yellow so now I'm totally confused.

See the stripes?  Cute and delicious!  Like Robert Pattinson! And my husband!
 Again: organized.  That's me.

So anyway, I picked all these ripe tomatoes and then wondered what the hell to do with them because 3/4 of them tasted like the aforementioned nothing.  I pondered the crazy amount of tomatoes that taste like nothing that I have coupled with the impressive amounts of tomatoes that taste fantastic that I have and had my yearly "Why do I plant so many tomatoes when I'm the only one in the house that really really likes them?" conversation with myself.  

So I made some {roasted tomatoes}.  And HALLELUJA they are phenomenal.  Unbelievably delish.  EVEN THE NOTHING ONES. Now I've had roasted tomatoes before and loved them but assumed they had to be made from tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes to be good.  But ALL OF THEM were delicious.  Scrumptious even.  They were so good that after I peeled off all the skins in preparation to freeze said tomatoes, I ate the skins.  They were that good.

 This looks awful.  It is glorious.
You can't tell this pan is clean (because it's old and seen a lot of action) but it is.
Because I licked it.
I wish I were kidding.
With the other yellow tomato that tastes good all on its own without embellishment, I made an old standby from {Farmgirl}.  You absolutely must click on {this} or {this} or {this} because you need to make this

Behold, a thing of biscuity beauty.

It's made out of biscuit dough, people, so how could it be bad?  My kids even like it even though they are ridiculous and pick out the tomatoes but still. (So technically I guess that means they like pesto, biscuit and cheese but whatever.)  I sacrifice myself and eat their scraped-out tomatoes that still have some pesto on them because I am above all, selfless.

Farmgirl's Savory Tomato Pesto Pie
Makes One 9-Inch Pie
Pesto (homemade or store-bought)

For The Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/ 4 ounces) cold butter
1 cup (about 2-1/2 ounces) finely grated pecorino romano (or other hard cheese)
3/4 cup milk

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the butter using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until the largest pieces are pea-size. Stir in the pecorino romano. Pour in the milk and use a fork to gently form a soft dough. Do not overmix. Divide the dough in two pieces, making one slightly larger than the other.

On a generously floured surface, use a rolling pin to gently roll out the larger piece of dough into a circle about 12 inches across, rolling from the center outward. Sprinkle dough with flour if sticky. Gently fold the dough in half and transfer into a 9-inch pie pan. If the dough tears, simply press it back together with your fingers. Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a slightly smaller circle and set aside (or wait until you have the filling in the pan and then roll it out).

Assembling The Pie:
1 cup pesto, divided
2-1/2 pounds of the best plum tomatoes you can find, sliced lengthwise into 4 or 5 slices each
8 ounces mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced (I used fresh which can't be grated)
1/2 cup (about 1-1/4 ounces) finely grated pecorino romano (or other hard cheese)

Using a spoon, spread 1/2 cup of pesto over the bottom layer of dough in the pie pan. Layer about half of the tomatoes over the pesto. Cover the tomatoes with about 2/3 of the mozzarella. Layer on the rest of the tomatoes (you may not need them all to fill the pan). Carefully spread the remaining 1/2 cup of pesto over the tomatoes. Cover with the remaining mozzarella and the pecorino romano.

Roll out the second piece of dough if you haven't already, and carefully place it over the pie. Fold the edge of the bottom piece over the top piece and press together to seal. Use your fingers to make a crimped design around the edge. If any dough falls apart, simply press it back together with your fingers. Don't worry if it isn't perfect. The handmade look has much more charm. Cut four slits in the top of the pie for steam to escape. Bake at 375 degrees F in the center of the oven until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cover the edge with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.

It freezes beautifully.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dear Mommy,

       If you were here today, there is so much that I would want to say to you.  I don't think we'd ever stop talking.  Some of it is pretty mundane stuff, like I would want to tell you that I could indeed train not only one puppy myself but two because yes I DID have enough patience.  

And I would want  to tell you that I don't live in a teeny little house that you have to walk through my bedroom to get to the baby's room anymore but instead have a medium house that I've "decorated" with stuff I love and I think you would love.  

Not mentioned in the letter below: it was okay to NOT breastfeed.  Thanks, Mommy!

I would tell you that I'm back in school and then you would say

And then I would tell you that so far I have a 4.0 but I'm really afraid of this coming semester because I have to take Statistics.  And then YOU would say that you don't know where I got my math ineptitude because both you and my father are very good at it but you're really really proud anyway.

And then we would talk about gardening and the kids and the husband and whatever we'd read recently or watched on tv.  We would just chatter and say "I really should go" and then either talk a 1/2 hour longer or hang up and call right back with "just one more thing."

I would do nothing except maybe kill someone in order to have these every-day, whatever kind of conversations with you.  But I'd really consider homicide if I thought I could talk to you about one thing---raising a daughter.

You always said that you would rather raise 10 girls than even one boy again not because I was such an angel but because those boys in our house were, ahem, a handful.  But I could be an emotional handful too.  So here's what I would say to you if I could:

I don't even know where to start with this.  
I grew into my forehead since then but came to understand that
bangs are my friends.

  • Thank you for telling me I was beautiful even though there were times I was definitely not (see above) and never making me think you didn't mean it.  Now I know that you actually did mean it because a mom can look through the tell-tale awkward phase and see the girl within.  Most of the time (see below). 

  • I'm sorry for that time at the mall when I walked 6 feet in front of you so no one would think I was with you.  I remember you telling me how much that hurt you and now I can safely say that I feel your pain. 

  • Thank you for putting up with other inexplicable moods that had nothing to do with you but were nonetheless aimed at you.  And having the where-with-all to photograph it because I laugh/cringe every time I come across it.  By the way, I also forgive you for allowing me to have that hair.  
That, my friends, is a PUSS on my face.  I was going sailing and my mom MADE ME.  Poor thing.
  •  Thanks for giving me a lot of freedom.  I know some of this "giving" was actually exhaustion on some level (reread the part about the boys in my family, above), but still.  It's hard to send a kid out there and to let them spread those wings.  And when there's a car involved I really have to hand it to you.  But, speaking of cars, I also thank you for having the smarts to know that teaching me to drive would probably cause damage to our already tenuous-at-the-time relationship and hiring a driving teacher.  Smart. 

This picture was taken right after I got my license and right before I left for the four
hour drive to Penn State. Without a cell phone. I just got my license. Get it??!!

  • Thanks for letting me buy a $200 dress for the prom because it was the only one I really liked and you thought it was awesome too.  Now, in retrospect, and with my current shopping experiences with my daughter I realize that writing out that $200 check might have been exhaustion too. But thanks anyway.  I felt like a very hot Minnie Mouse. 

                                                                                          It was the 80's alright?  And this dress still rocks.
  • Most of all, I would thank you for sticking it out with me.  I think you knew we'd be back to being close, that I would no longer wage that battle within myself of needing you and hating you for it but instead just needing you and liking you again.  You told me that age 12 to 17 were a little rough but that even though you sometimes didn't like me, you knew you would again.   


  • Lastly, I would tell you that I wish you could come back here for at least the next 5 years to remind me that even though my daughter will probably bruise my heart like I did yours, we'll be more than fine in the end.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Gregarious Homebody is...


Really good.  
Like, let-everything-around-me-fall-to-pieces-while-I-read good.

Listening to
Read by a really fine narrator.
Even more sadistic than the movie.

Always a sucker-for-packaging, I am now also apparently afflicted 
with the marketing disease my friend Ray has:
picking paint by its color name.
This one: Iris I Was Thinner 

I'm cringing a little while I watch because I'm positive {my Tony}
snickers about her upbeatness and cuteability.


What the **** IS this?
Unfortunately in about a month I'll be able to let you know.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Harvest

The tomatoes are coming! 
The tomatoes are coming!

I'm so excited.  Tonight's dinner, with the exception of the pasta, the olive oil and the salt, came from my garden! I love that.  The basil plants have been bursting and the tomato plants have had a crap-load of green ones for awhile but tonight I could finally pick a few and a cucumber*Squeal!*

Behold, the mighty harvest:

Okay, so it's not exactly "mighty" but any gardener will tell you that the first of anything is downright thrilling.  Especially for the novice gardener who not only cannot remember what the heirloom tomatoes are called that she is growing but is also still astounded that seeds grow  into what is usually bought in the supermarket.  Amazing.

So this is what I made:

No, that's not *skin on top of the's shaved parmesan

It's practically a non-recipe but here's what I did anyway:

Gnocchi Pomodoro

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
a huge handful of fresh basil, chiffonade-style
2 large tomatoes, chunked
Salt and pepper
 Gnocchi that has been boiled in salted water and is about to float to the top

Saute the garlic slowly over medium heat until good-smelling.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the release a good amount of juice and then add basil.  Simmer for awhile until very mushy.  Puree in a blender if your annoying children refuse tomato chunks.  Season with salt and pepper. (I would also add a dash of crushed red pepper if said children were not eating with us).

Add cooked gnocchi to the mix, letting it simmer awhile together.  
Add some cold cooked chopped broccoli from last night's dinner to add some more veg.
Then, to top it all off, use a vegetable peeler to shave some parm from the hunk.


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