Spinach and goat’s cheese tart with roasted peppers and tomatoes

Spinach and goat cheese tart with roasted peppers and tomatoes

Spinach and goat cheese tart with roasted peppers and tomatoes

I have this strange feeling lately, from time-to-time, that I can’t complete a sentence. The words will get stuck somewhere between my brain and my tongue. I’ll wait patiently and powerlessly for somebody to hit me on the side of the head and unjam the process, but whomever I’m addressing will just give me a pitying but bewildered look and go about their business. Why is this happening? I don’t know! It’s senility, probably, but it feels oddly adolescent. I believe I spent my teenage years desperately trying to get my strange thoughts into the world, and then desperately trying to recall them and hide them away once I had, mortified by their strangeness and lack of consequence. And then as I got older I became much chattier, because I simultaneously realized that some of the best thoughts are strange thoughts, and that nobody gives a hoot about what you say, anyway, because they’re not listening half the time and they certainly won’t remember. There’s no point in agonizing regretfully over some stupid thing you said when nobody heard it in the first place. Thus followed a long period of time when I never stopped talking. I turned into a veritable warbling vireo. But with maturity comes increased self-doubt and self-censorship, and the new realization that it doesn’t matter all that much anyway what you say, because nobody is listening half the time so why bother? And you understand that it’s good to listen to other people, and that you have to stop talking for a minute in order to do that. Last night I was lying next to a pukey Isaac as he drifted off to sleep and listening to his odd, sleepy thoughts. He pondered the difference between funny ha ha and funny strange. It bothers him that people use “funny” to mean strange, because it’s not really funny at all. And it suddenly made perfect sense to me that the truth is funny strange, and the best way to express it is with the humorous kind of funny, as comedians and court jesters have known for centuries. And the best way to do this is to be fearless and to plough right on through even if the words come out garbled. And we may both have fallen asleep before I articulated all of this, but that’s okay, because my smart, honest, eloquent Isaac is every kind of funny, and he knows it already. So if I’m talking to you and I seem to get stuck half-way through a sentence, give me a gentle tap on the head, and we’ll see if my nonsense was worth hearing in the first place.

Roasted pepper and tomato tart

Roasted pepper and tomato tart

My friend Diane commissioned a dish for mother’s day. She wanted a vegetable side dish, and somehow I got the impression she wanted it to be substantial enough that any vegetarian guests could call it a meal. So, of course, I made a tart. It’s loaded with vegetables, and with colors and flavors. I had to make it a couple of days early, so I roasted the peppers and tomatoes, and dried them out in the oven a bit, so that they wouldn’t turn the tart too mushy. I think it worked well! (I made one for us, too, to be sure it was tasty, and I’m glad to report that it was!)

Here’s Belle and Sebastian’s Get Me Away from Here I’m Dying because he says, “Oh, that wasn’t what I meant to say at all,” which is such a lovely thing to hear in a pop song!

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Spring herbs & greens tart


A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Ferned grot–
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not–
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.
-Thomas Edward Brown

I used to love this poem, when I was little. I know … it’s overblown, it’s stilted, it’s very Victorian, but I thought it was great. I learned recently that the poem spawned a word, “godwottery.” Godwattery refers to a) gardening in an elaborate and affected style, or, b) affected use of archaic language. I love that! I love the word, I love the idea, and the gentle teasing quality of the whole arrangement.

My parents gave me a small part of the yard to make a garden in. I used to plan it furiously. I had a little garden book. I drew pictures, I researched seeds. I visited the Cloisters in New York. I read overwrought victorian poetry about gardens. I was never quite as good at actually planting the garden, though, or weeding it, or taking care of it. I did make a nice little space, for a while. Where we live now, we have a tiny yard, and an even tinier space set aside for a garden. We grew tomatoes for a few years, but we’re giving the soil a break, and this year we’re planting herbs and small greens. I’m thrilled! I’ve always loved a tangled combination of greens and herbs in any food. Not carefully planned out, but all thrown wildly together, so you get a small taste of each, and it forms a beautiful, complicated whole. I love the way this works year round. In winter you have kale and spinach, winter savory and rosemary. In summer chard, more spinach, basil and thyme. In fall, small, bitter greens, sorrel and sage. In the spring – you have a big jumble of small spicy sassy plants. Chervil and tarragon, tiny beet greens, arugula, lovage, summer savory. (I was never the most organized farmer – this is more my bright idea about how things might fit togehter! The names are a pretty part of the plan!)

I love recipes that combine a wild mix of herbs and greens. Soup meagre, or small salads that combine a few herbs and greens. You can mix them with butter, or toss them with pasta or mashed potatoes. Or bake them into a tart! Which is what I did! I combined baby arugula, baby spinach, basil, summer savory, tarragon, chervil, parsley, bull’s blood beet leaves, lovage, and chives. Most of these things we’re growing; some I bought. It doesn’t matter! It all tastes good! You can use whatever you like – whatever you can find. The only other flavoring I used was a clove of roasted garlic. And the crust has some ground pecans – a nice nutty combination with the herbs. I think it turned out very nice – every bite has a new combination of flavors. It’s possible to distinguish one or two, now and again, or just to enjoy them as they come.

Here’s footage of Louis Armstrong with Royal Garden Blues
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