It’s late summer and the berries are ripe and the apples are coming on. My sweetie and I have a tradition of riding our bikes down the road on a summer’s evening when the air is cool and picking enough wild blackberries to make a pie
Now, I am not the best pie baker, and sometimes I have been known to purchase a crust (Trader Joe’s is the best) but this time I dove in and made a gluten-free crust. We both agreed it was pretty good. Raymond likes Ice cream on his pie and I prefer yogurt.
Now the thing about eating a fresh-baked pie is that it’s pretty hard to be depressed about the world at large when you’re digging into a warm concoction of sweet berries and crust. In that moment nothing exists but the pie and the people enjoying it.
Never baked a pie? Don’t be intimidated. Have someone show you how to bake the crust, watch a YouTube video or just buy one. The fruit part is easy and it must be fresh!
Pie makes people happy. They should serve it at peace negotiations. Sit down at the table and serve the slices to the ones you care about. Serve with coffee, tea, and ice cream, or whipped cream if you prefer. Spread a little joy one pie at a time.
(sketches from my day planner)
Learn about the history of pies by watching this video
This year’s garlic harvest is in. It‘s always a bit of magic when the spade brings to light the seed I planted in the fall. From singular cloves come beautiful heads of garlic ready to enhance my cooking and that of others. Trim the stalks and brush their smooth skins – a ritual I never tire of. Then off to the racks of our root cellar (actually a former darkroom) where they will cure on racks. Typically the harvest will last until mid spring if stored correctly.
We use garlic liberally, often pressing an entire bulb and storing it in a container for use during the week. When I was a young cook I used to follow recipes that called for a clove or two of garlic. I could never taste the difference. If you want some pizzazz to your cuisine, be generous 5 or 6 depending on the size of your cloves. Trust your taste buds.
Over many years none of our acquaintances- even my closest friends have ever complained to me of garlic breath. A good tooth brushing will take care of that!
This morning there was an event in my garden- the garlic scapes were ready for harvest. What is a garlic scape? It is the flowering stalk that appears about 2 weeks or so in June before the garlic is mature enough to dig. It’s always a bit of a miracle to see it mature since I planted it way back in November. We ran out of our garlic about two months ago so it is exciting to know that soon we will have fresh garlic to enjoy.
This is where it gets a bit complicated. There are 2 types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic is the only type that produces scapes. They have, as the name implies, a long hard neck or stem. they have fewer cloves but the cloves are huge. Softneck garlic has soft stems. They are the type you see in braids. Their bulbs can get huge with more cloves but they are not as big as those of the hardneck. Generally, they don’t store for as long as hardneck either. They are impressive and make great gifts
I grow both kinds, Susanville, a softneck variety, and Musica, a hardneck variety. Any type you grow at home puts the tiny store-bought garlic from China to shame in terms of flavor and size. (Why we import that inferior garlic from China is a mystery to me!)
Garlic scapes have a mild garlic flavor. Tonight I will brush them with olive oil and place them on the grill with other vegetables to serve as a side dish. This is my favorite way to serve them. I also sauté them and add them to everything from eggs to stirfry. Look for them now at farmer’s markets and specialty grocery stores for a special treat.