The garden gives us not only food, but such pleasure. Until I started gardening myself, I never realized how very hard it is to grow food. Enthralled as I am by the miracle of compost and of seeds that spring to sprout when water is added, engaged as I am by the sprint to the sun by the corn and by the ohhh! moment of harvesting ample beets and carrots, I remain daunted by Japanese beetles and squash bugs, by blight and too-hot temperatures. Or too much rain. Or too little. So any harvest is a celebration for our family.
I love that Fern and Blossom rush to help me unload the baskets with exclamations over how well the corn did (our first ever this year!) and over how many edamame beans are on each stalk. Look how long the carrots are! How fat the beets! I love that our girls are watching and waiting as eagerly as I am. It does feel as though we celebrate each bite we take when the garden is providing our meals.
That is never so true as with tomatoes. We love our tomatoes. And, of all our heirlooms, we love the big, knobby, gloriously swirled Ruby Golds most of all.
This year we made a sorbet with Ruby Golds that is a celebration of all that's best as summer bends to autumn (and we bend to the work of stacking firewood). The last hot days spin down into evenings that close in too early—but find us eating our supper by candlelight. This sorbet goes very well with candlelight.
Ruby Gold Tomato Sorbet
1 cup sugar
3 pounds Ruby Gold (or other heirloom) ripe tomatoes—peeled, cored and chunked
a handful of basil leaves
• Make a simple syrup: In a saucepan, melt sugar into one cup of water and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and toss in the basil leaves. Let it steep and cool.
• In a blender, puree the tomatoes then pour the puree through a strainer.
• Strain the the basil out of the simple syrup.
• Combine the syrup and tomatoes in a bowl and chill until thoroughly cold.
• Process in an ice cream maker as you would any frozen concoction.
• Serve it softly frozen or scoop it into another container and freeze it until firm, which may take about three hours.
We served ours topped with slow-roasted Sungold "raisins" and a little sprinkling of Malden's flaky sea salt. We also baked some Lime Basil Shortbread cookies.
Oh, you want that recipe, too? Yes, you do! It turned out to be a passionate favorite here (and everywhere we shared it).
Lime-Basil Shortbread Cookies
(do yourself a favor and just double it)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons sliced fresh lime-basil (or any sweet basil)
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
granulated sugar for sprinkling the tops
• Place flour, powdered sugar, butter, basil, lime zest and juice, and salt in a food processor.
• Pulse until the dough clumps together in a nice moist hunk.
• Chill the dough for at least an hour.
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Measure tablespoonfuls of the dough and roll them between your palms into a ball. Place each ball onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• Dip a juice glass into water, then into the granulated sugar, and press each ball of cookie dough into a circle.
• Bake for eight minutes, then check. We like them with just a rim of golden brown.
Enjoy by candlelight! Happy summer-turns-to-fall-but-still-tastes-like-summer sorbet and cookies!