Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Triffids out the front

The tomatoes have taken over the front yard.

Their sprawling arms are spreading across the pavers, heavy with as yet unripe fruit. Lazy gardener that I am, I have neglected my trussing duties for too long and now it is too late to halt their progress. Yet despite all of this they are producing masses of tomatoes - yellow pear-shaped ones, huge swollen ‘black’ ones and, finally, the bright red variety whose name I promptly forgot the moment it was in the ground is coming good. The only problem is birds. Our dog Poppy (a small, muscle-bound, hairy-chested Jack Russell) has not been performing her duties either – she normally relishes any chance to scatter birds and give them a good yelling at, but these birds are stealthy. They come when she is inside with us, keeping cool.

But I can’t quite bring myself to net the plants up. I think that if the birds want to enjoy some of these beautiful fruits, then they must be good. Just so long as there are some left for the Artist and myself.

As the Artist is working in New Zealand this week, I have found it difficult to bother cooking anything spectacular, opting for easy over time-consuming. The heat is getting to me this year like never before. So, I made a puff pastry tart (frozen is fine, but do try get a preservative-free one made with butter if possible – Borg’s make a lovely one) with organic corn, some slices of the juicily ripe red tomatoes I was given at the market last week, and my own, gloriously sun-warmed yellow tomatoes.

Goat’s milk feta was crumbled on the top, baked for 20 minutes at 220C and then drizzled with lemon-infused olive oil. It was very, very good. And here’s the trick, passed on to me by Mum – when you take the pastry out of the freezer, take an uber-sharp knife and trim a thin strip off each edge. It makes the pastry puff up more beautifully than you can imagine. Oh, and take off the sheet of blue plastic or your kitchen will smell revolting. Driving the decrepit Mini I once owned many years ago, I ran over a plastic bag that was lying in the centre of the road. It attached itself to the wheel axel and the smell of burning plastic still haunts me to this day…

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