All that is left of the daffodils are its slender flat leaves. Pink, red, purple and white azaleas are just past their peak. The lettuce and radishes are still a week or two from harvest. Nascent green specks are uniformly taking root in the garden. But my cupboard is bare.
These weeks from last frost to first harvest are emotionally trying. I long for the profusion of summer’s largess and the variety I crave and the ease in obtaining it. Yes, ramps, fiddleheads and asparagus excite me to dizziness; their flirtation in the kitchen is short lived (and, in part that is why I love them so, they never overstay their welcome). The jar of pickled ramp stems will garnish Blood Mary’s and pulled pork sandwiches latter this summer in all probability. I am by no means ungrateful for their return, but their presence just heightens my desire to move it along.
I am ready now, to be overwhelmed by the day’s haul of zucchini and cucumber, and babysit a maturing watermelon in order not to grab it too soon. I get like this every year at this time – chomping at the bit for the full expression of summer.
While I seem to display very little patience with Mother Nature it is my childlike enthusiasm for foods coated in dirt from the yard and farmer’s markets buzzing, just hours after the sun has risen, cures me of any culinary block/rut I might be experiencing; waiting is the only option. In the meantime, my freezer needs to be fully depleted of the vacuum-sealed bags that got put into suspension late-last summer into the autumn. There are enough tomatoes, sun-dried zucchinis, black-eyed peas and husk tomatoes to keep me busy until the red, purple and white shoulders of the radishes displace the soil out in the yard.
Husk Tomato Tea Cake – yields 10-inch cake
1-pound husk tomatoes (fresh or frozen)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½-cup sweetened condensed milk
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1¼-teaspoon baking powder
Buttered and flour a 10-inch cake pan.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a standing mixer mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
In another bowl beat the eggs, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla together to combine.
In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Then on a low speed add the flour to the butter mixture. Once the flour has been added to the butter pour in the egg mixture, and mix well.
Place the husk tomatoes on the bottom of the cake pan, and pour over the batter. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before un-molding.