Friday, August 22, 2014


All week long I’ve been sitting on a best-ever recipe, itching to share it with you but hesitating because it’s so good that I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it justice with the written word. It’d be better, more persuasive, if I could give you a sample straight up—just stick my arm through the computer screen and into your house and hand you a little piece of edible heaven. But I’m no Willy Wonka, so words it is.

Remember that scene in Julie and Julia where Julie fries thick slices of bread in lots of oil and then mounds the pieces with cubes of juicy tomato? While she stews over what sort of project she can take on in order to have something to write about, her husband takes bite after enormous bite of the bruschetta (CHOMP, chew, CHOMPchew, CHOMPCHOMPCHOMP) interspersed with moans of deliciousness while juice dribbles down his chin. It’s a glorious scene.

That’s what I made. Except, I made it better.

That’s right: I’m one-upping the Julias and blogging about it. Aren’t I classic.

A couple years ago, a friend told me about a fresh tomato salad she makes. Basically, it’s tomatoes in a brine of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with garlic and fresh basil. I made it and liked it, but I didn’t swoon.

But then the next year when the tomatoes were ripe, I called her up for the recipe because, well, it was kinda good. Fast forward to this year: I called her up (yet again) for the recipe and served it to my mom. Then my mom called me for the recipe and I had to call my friend back because I had already misplaced it. Since the recipe was fresh in my mind, I was all like, Oh heck, why not?, and made the salad again. And then, with the Julie and Julia scene playing in my head, I served it up as bruschetta and—CHOMP chew CHOMP chew—the rest is history.

The Actual History
Chapter One: I serve the bruschetta on Saturday noon and act like I've struck gold. My husband says it is good.

Chapter Two: I make bruschetta, just for myself, that night for supper.

Chapter Three: We eat more bruschetta for Sunday lunch. I use the leftover tomatoes that have been marinating in brine since the day before. My husband comes close to raving.

Chapter Four: On Monday I make a skillet of bruscetta for lunch and share it with my older son. Upon discovering there are no seconds, he is crushed.


For the tomatoes:
4 cups of juicy ripe, multicolored (if you have them) tomatoes
½ cup minced fresh basil
½ cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Put the tomatoes and basil in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and stir. Let sit at room temperature for one hour before serving. Leftovers keep for a couple days in the fridge. (As the tomatoes get eaten up, freshen up the salad with a new tomato. You can only do this once or twice, though, before the brine’s strength diminishes.)

For the bread:
a bunch of slices of thick, chewy bread
olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half, optional

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Drizzle olive oil on the pan to cover the same area as one piece of bread. Quickly slap the bread over the oil. Repeat the drizzle-and-slap method until the pan is full of bread slices. Reduce the heat to medium.

Once the bread is golden brown and crunchy, flip and fry on the other side. Except you need to add more olive oil at this point, so it’s a bit of a juggling act. Sometimes it’s easier to remove several pieces of bread and then drizzle and flip-slap. When both sides are golden brown, remove the pieces to a plate. Important tips: be quite generous with the olive oil and get the bread as crunchy toasty as possible.

Brush each piece of grilled bread with a garlic clove, if desired. (Since there is garlic in the tomato salad, this isn’t a crucial step.)

To assemble:
toasted bread slices
tomato salad
fresh mozzarella, chopped or torn into small pieces

Put two or three pieces of mozzarella on each piece of toast. Spoon some briny tomatoes onto each piece. Top with two or three more pieces of cheese. Serve immediately. CHOMP chew.

This same time, years previous: photo shoot, two minute peanut butter chocolate cake (I don't recommend it), red raspberry ice cream, whole wheat buttermilk waffles, earthy ponderations, part two, oven-roasted Roma tomatoes, grape jelly, and cold curried corn soup.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

on unschooling and parental comfort level

This summer (and despite the back-to-school pictures on your Facebook page, it is still summer ... for another whole month), I read a book called Natural Born Learners. It’s a collection of radio interviews with all sorts of homeschooling experts, such as John Taylor Gatto, Kate Fridkis, David Albert, and Sandra Dodd.

Mini Book Review
One of my pet peeves is that books about homeschooling are so often poorly edited. Writers make lots of mistakes (I’m a classic example) but there’s no excuse for the published books and magazines. This book was yet another not-well-edited example. The transcripts were clunky, the layout dull, and transitions nearly nonexistent. But, and this is a BIG but: the heart of the book—the ideas and issues—were good as gold. So yes, I recommend this book. Just squint your eyes and rush over the typos and awkward wording. And be sure to keep a pencil close at hand for lots of oh-my-word-this-is-awesome underlining.
End of Mini Book Review

While reading this book, oodles of ideas caught my attention (such as the aforeblogged-about notion of homes as museums), but there was one idea in particular that gave me pause. Brenna McBroom, a long-time unschooler, gave voice to one of my biggest hang-ups about unschooling. She criticizes unschooling parents for hesitating to do anything that might be interpreted as “controlling” their children. She says that many unschooling parents are so committed to letting their children learn about the world on their own terms that the parents won’t interfere, even when their children are damaging property or hurting other people (Ekoko, 349).

Not until I read the critique did I realize that this issue—the equating of unschooling with a relinquishing of parental control—is at the heart of why I hesitate to embrace unschooling. I've been witness to this extreme view of unschooling, and it is disconcerting, to say the least. So it's a relief to see someone from the inner circle criticizing the same thing that bothers me. I don't have to be just like those people in order to count myself an unschooler. Plus, internal critique gives the movement more credibility (at least in my eyes). (For the record, this is how I work with people, too: show me your weakness and I'll trust and respect you.)

The belief that unschooling parents aren't allowed to be in control of their children is not, in fact, a true definition of unschooling. As I read more and more about different unschoolers and their diverse lifestyles, it’s becoming clear that many unschooling parents are not hands-off. They direct, boss, and encourage, as needed. They enforce hard work and chores. Some of them even require their children to do an occasional math workbook, gasp. And yet they are all still counted as unschoolers.

A Google search of unschooling brought up John Holt’s definition: “When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.”

Ha, comfortably bear. I love that.

Actually, I really, really love that. Because Parental Comfort Level is so subjective. For example, some parents might enjoy being at their kids’ beck and call, participating in their children’s project ideas, and doing most of the household chores so that their kids are free to roam. Other parents (me!) might require more personal space, structure, and evenly divided responsibility over household tasks. It just depends on the parent.

And on the child. Some children are natural givers, chipper-in-ers, go-getters, and responsibility taker-on-ers while others are ... not. Some children, bless their sweet little hearts, are sloth-like, overly introspective, needy, and prone to taking the easy way out.

Sometimes (heaven help us) multiple parenting styles and personality extremes exist under the same roof, so for unschooling to flourish, flexibility and common sense must take precedence (two personality traits I find in short supply).

"What a parent can comfortably bear" provides plenty of wiggle room. I like that.

I don’t know if what we’re doing counts as unschooling or not. Again, in John Holt’s words, “unschoolers ... learn ... when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority.”

I guess this means that when I pay less attention to the ever-present Arbitrary Authority known as Institutionalized Education and more attention to my own children’s developmental abilities and interests, even when—and maybe especially when—their methods and time tables for learning are other than What’s Expected, then that’s unschooling.

So yeah, I guess this means we’re unschoolers, more or less.


Random pictures courtesy of an afternoon at the river with friends and cousins.

This same time, years previous: stewed greens with tomato and chili, the quotidian (8.20.12), this is what crazy looks like, how to get your refrigerator clean in two hours, and earthy ponderations, part one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

kale tabbouleh with tomatoes and cucumbers

August is the season where I serve supper and my husband weeps.

I’m not trying to make him cry. I’m actually being a conscientious, upright, in-tune-with-mother-earth-type person. In other words, I forage in the garden for what’s ripe and then slap it on the table. One night there was a delightful bulgur salad along with corn on the cob. The next night I served a mountain of corn on the cob and leftover peas.

The food was delicious—people pay big bucks for fresh veggies, you know—but throughout the meal my husband wore an aggrieved expression. Sure enough, a couple hours later I found him with his head in the fridge, rooting around for something to more to eat.

Me: You hungry?

Him: I need food, Jennifer. Food! I already made three eggs and I’m still famished. I! Am! Hungry!

And then he whimpered.

So the next day I went shopping for food. I bought snacks and apples and ham. I made big, husband-pleasing plans for pizza and pastas and taco salad. (The tomato sandwiches, pesto with candied cherry tomatoes, and roasted beets I’ll slip in around the edges.)

In the meantime, the leftover bulgur salad is all mine. I’ve been eating great mounds of it for my lunches. It makes me feel virtuous, energetic, and only a wee bit resentful that my husband isn’t as nuts about it as I am. Because it is the perfect lunch salad.

Also, regarding this food preference difference: is there actually a gender-based divide in taste preferences?  Is there truth to the stereotype that (more) men like wings, burgers, and pizza and (more) women like mushrooms, blue cheese, and kale? Is it sexist to even raise such a question?

Kale Tabbouleh with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Adapted from Aimee of Simple Bites

for the salad:
1 cup bulgur
8-10 leaves of kale
1½  - 2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup minced onion
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup mint leaves, chopped

for the dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Put the bulgur in a bowl and cover with two cups of boiling water. Let sit until the bulgur is soft and the water is absorbed. (If there is any extra water, drain it off.)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Wash the kale, remove the tough stem, and mince the leaves. Drizzle the leaves with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale leaves until they are glossy and soft.

Add the kale, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, mint, and parsley to the bulgur. Toss with the rest of the dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days. They make perfect lunches (for the non meat-eaters among us).

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.19.13), basic fruit crisp, and thoughts on nursing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

the quotidian (8.18.14)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Flower fun.

Irony: watching Charlotte hunt down, play with, and and then eat a rabbit.
All while holding a giant pink bunny.

(And angry at me for taking pictures instead of helping.)

Salted caramel ice cream, oh yes!

Giant exhale: the play is over. 

This same time, years previous: easy French bread, from market to table, starfruit smoothie, summer visitor, the beach, garlicky spaghetti sauce, around the internets, peach cornmeal cobbler and fresh peach ice cream, drilling for sauce, barley and beans with sausage and red wine, peach tart, and tomato and red wine sauce.

Friday, August 15, 2014

knowing my questions

I find myself in a weird place: rather busy—sometimes annoyingly so—and yet on the cusp of a lull. I can feel it coming, the slipping into cozy comfort, the sweet routines, the ordinary ebbs and flows, and while I love it, I also have an underlying need for more, more, more. A new project, maybe. Something to challenge my mind. It’s like a craving, this pulsating need to produce, stretch, experience, delight, thrill.


A dozen-plus years ago, I invited some high school girls to come hang out in my house to talk. Actually, I wrote about this in my (unfinished) book, so here. No need to write the same thing twice...

And then there are my high-schoolers.  The idea simmered on my back burner for quite a while before I sent out invitations to the girls at church to come to my house to talk.  I promised I would answer any questions they had.  I was open to all topics:  religion, family, eating disorders, and the hottest of all concerns, sex.  The girls started flocking to my house every other Wednesday night.  Very soon they dubbed themselves the Milkmaids because they were drinking large quantities of milk with my homemade snacks. 

The nights everybody descends on our house for our loud and hairy gabfests, I dim the lights and pile pillows around, and as the lone semi-mature adult I hear out their ecstasies and sorrows.   A single votive candle is my one attempt at order; the rule (quite loosely followed) being that only the person holding the candle may speak.  I throw out a question or an idea and they respond to it, taking however much time they need, passing the candle when they’re finished.  Much of the time is spent laughing hysterically, but it’s a rare evening that no one weeps.

I share this now because nearly a decade later, this group has reformed. It’s kind of funny how it started. A few weeks back, several of the girls came over to see the puppies. We sat in the yard drinking mint tea and ended up talking for three hours. In passing, I mentioned how it’s amazing that so many of the original Milkmaids are living in the Valley after all these years, and one of the girls said, “Yeah, we should do Milkmaids again.”

I laughed off her suggestion—that era is long gone—but that night in the shower I did a double take. Milkmaids again? Could that even possibly work? After a bunch of pondering and some consultations with my husband, I sent out an invite. A couple weeks later, Milkmaids 2.0 (until we come up with a better name) was in session.

In some ways, the group is different. We drink wine instead of milk. They have husbands, babies, and jobs instead of sports, homework, and youth group. With ten more years of experience under their belts, there is greater depth to their insights. The conversation is richer.

But in many ways the group is exactly the same. They all look just like they did ten years ago (they say I do, too—aren’t they sweet?). Tears and laughter bubble over willy-nilly. The nights run late. And I still open each gathering with a guiding thought.

The last time we met, I opened with one of the teacher’s precepts from Wonder: It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers (James Thurber). After the candle had made its way around the circle, they asked me what my questions were. I confessed I hadn’t given it any thought and proceeded to bumble around for a bit before mercifully falling silent.


Since that night, I've been mulling over that precept. I think I've finally come up with my question:

How do I know when to practice contentment and when to push myself beyond my comfort zone? And what if contentment is beyond my comfort zone (oh no!)?

Maybe my constant desire for More is an addiction, a distraction technique, a hindrance to true joy. But maybe this aching itch means that there is more of me to be uncovered. Maybe it is My True Potential yanking at its collar, begging to be unleashed?

Discovery is what I want. Sometimes I dream about being discovered, but I think that would be, ultimately, unsatisfying. What I really want, I think, is to discover. To discover a good recipe, a new insight, a skill, a friendship, myself.

Most times, I feel like a walking cliche. Take it one day at a time! Know thyself! To every season there is a purpose! Think of others first! Love wins! Dare to dream! 

Perhaps it’s silly, this constant turmoil. But hey, it is what it is.

Do I practice contentment or do I push?
Do I do both?
And how?

This same time, years previous: not your typical back-to-school post, a piece of heavengrilled trout with bacon, lately, our life, kill a groundhog and put it in a quiche, and fresh mozzarella.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

spaghetti with vodka cream tomato sauce

Yesterday—Monday—I had nothing on the calendar.

No rehearsals.
No shows.
No canning.
No freezing.
No doctors’ appointments.
No nothing.

Since the weather was cool and overcast, I decided to spend my morning cooking actual food. I’ve had so many things on my to-make list, but what with all the Busy, I’ve only succeeded in getting by with the bare minimum. So while the children played, I caught up on my NPR shows and made granola, yogurt, a chocolate cake, and the base for salted caramel ice cream. It was just the kind of day I needed after the rush-rush of the last couple weeks. And then, to top off the perfectness, I made a supper worth writing about, whoo-hoo!

Two things:
1) When I was in NYC this past winter, I had ravioli in a vodka cream sauce at Carmine’s. The ravioli was nice, but the sauce was spectacular. Upon my return home, I researched recipes but none seemed right. The end.
2) When we were in Guatemala, one-pot spaghetti was all the rage. I tried it and hated it. The end.

Except not the end. Enter, just yesterday, a friend’s Facebook status update: We made a vodka-cream-tomato sauce...

Of course I begged the recipe, and shortly thereafter he obliged with a follow-up post that began with a sentence that could not have been more straightforward:  This is a post about how to cook pasta in one pot. After a flurry of questions and answers, I set about making the spaghetti to end all spaghettis.

My friend's method is direct, just like his opening sentence. Saute garlic and onion. Add five cups of liquid (stock, water, tomato juice), some tomato sauce/paste, chopped tomatoes, and seasonings. Boil. Add the spaghetti, and when it’s almost done, add the vodka and cream. Toss in the precooked meats, if desired, and add lots of chopped fresh basil. Transfer the whole glorious mess to a giant serving bowl, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve.

I was a bit nervous, starting out. Carmine’s vodka cream sauce was nectar-of-the-gods good, and that one-pot pasta was such a pile of muck. Turns out, I needn’t have worried. Each taste test along the way lightened my mood, and by the time I added the vodka and cream I was practically tap-dancing around the kitchen, pausing every time I passed the stove to slurp the sauce.

The family fought over the spaghetti. At one point, my husband even tried to steal my older son’s entire plate (no luck). There wasn’t one speak of pasta left over, but the delicious memory lingered well into the night when I dreamed, no joke, of Carmine’s. Except that meal, in my dream, was flavorless and cost 600 dollars, so I’ll happily stick with my new favorite homemade recipe, thank you very much.

Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Christian's Facebok Status Update. (He needs to start a food blog.)

The key is five cups liquid to one pound of pasta. I used water with chicken bouillon and the juice from a can of strained tomatoes. I added the drained chopped tomatoes and then a pint of pizza sauce for richness. You can play around with types and quantities of tomato products, but don’t mess with the quantity of liquid.

1 onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups liquid (water, broth, tomato juice, etc.)
3 cups chopped, canned tomatoes
1 pint pizza sauce
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1 pound dry spaghetti, broken
1/3 cup vodka
2/3 cup heavy cream
precooked meat, optional (I added a couple pounds of meatballs)
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large stock pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When the veggies are tender, stir in the pizza sauce, chopped tomatoes, liquid, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. When the spaghetti is almost done, add the vodka and cream and return to a simmer. Add the precooked meat and fresh basil. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan.


A word about the play: people are really enjoying it! Comments I’ve heard include, “It’s really funny,” “This may be the best thing I’ve seen at Court Square Theater yet,” “Everyone was crying,” and “What a great story!” We’ve got four more shows this weekend! I hope to see you there!

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.12.13), and totally worth it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

the quotidian (8.11.14)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Summer colors.

Peaches: roasted and sun-kissed.

Earning their keep.

Garden jewels.


Why, yes. I do let my children use knives. What makes you ask?

Slay me.

More fencing. Always more fencing.

Back from wilderness camp.

A couple weeks ago, helping me run lines. 
 The best part: letting her sound out the swear words and then laughing at her shock.

Cat and mole.

A Sunday nap.

Saying goodbye. 

This same time, years previous: getting my halo on, there's that, a bout of snarky, sanitation and me, how to can peaches, dried fruit, and orange-mint tea.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

a new friend

This last week we hosted our Fresh Air boy. We were supposed to get a girl, too, but last minute she decided not to come and there wasn’t time to get a substitute, so one child it was. My younger daughter shed some fiery tears of disappointment, but then she adjusted and adapted as children are wont to do.

This was, by far, our best hosting experience ever. Miguel (not his real name) was a non-fusser, super polite, easy going, a peace maker (between my squabbling offspring), and eager to try new things (except for food, but we’ll let that go). He's also trilingual: English, Spanish, and ASL, since both his parents are deaf. (This is how I communicated with his mother.)

I tried to get in as much swimming as possible. This was actually kind of hard, not because of our schedule, but because it’s been so cold this summer. (Seriously, the highs in the 70s? In August?!) We did make it to the river, twice. I was prepared for Miguel to be the typical Fresh Air child: hesitant and grossed out over slimy rocks and water bugs. But no. The child was fearless. In fact, he plunged into the frigid water with nary a whimper, and then proceeded to far surpass the country kids in bravery, endurance, and joyful absorption. It was a sight to behold.

The week flew by. When it came time for him to leave, I was actually a little sad. I was ready for him to go back, yes, but that was more because of other stresses (wash basket loads of beans, bushels of peaches, the play, etc) and less because of the extra child.

In fact, for the first time I could see how hosts might want to have the city child stay for the whole summer. It was that good.

This same time, years previous: best banana bread, crunchy dill pickles, elf biscuits, nectarine-red raspberry freezer jam, and granola bars.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

cheesy herb pizza

That picture I posted two whole quotidians ago—the one of the cheesy herb pizza—unleashed a firestorm of questions.

Or two, to be exact.

Basically, a couple of you just wanted the recipe.

The first drizzle—it needs a  bunch more around the edges.

It can hardly be called a recipe, really. It’s simply a cross between focaccia and pizza, with some fresh herbs thrown in because SUMMER.

Actually, Luisa’s the one who gave me the inspiration. She did a post on focaccia in which she wrote about generously pouring olive oil over the dough so that it fries while it bakes. I haven't actually made her recipe yet—it seemed so similar to my five-minute dough that I let that part go. The olive oil trick, though, that I snatched up right quick.

Photo shoots are dangerous. 
I ate a quarter of the pizza while Getting Just The Right Shot (which I didn't get).

Cheesy Herb Pizza

I’ve been using dried oregano and fresh basil, but by all means go full fresh if you're so inclined. Also, I didn't measure anything for this recipe. The amounts are suggestions.

1/3 of a batch of five-minute dough
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup minced fresh basil
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
cornmeal, for dusting the pan

Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Roll your dough to the desired size and thickness and lay it on the pan. Drizzle more olive oil over the dough, paying close attention to the edges. Sprinkle the dough with the dried oregano and then the cheeses.

Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of a 450 degree oven for ten minutes or until the cheeses are golden brown and bubbly. When the pizza is finished, immediately brush the edges with more olive oil. Sprinkle the basil over the pizza and dig in.

This same time, years previously: corn crepecakes, horses, hair, and everything else under the sun, the quotidian (8.6.12), why I am recuperating, dishes at midnight, quick, quick, quick, and quiche.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

kiss the moon, kiss the sun

Thursday, the play opens. Which means I’ve been gone from home nearly every evening for the last two weeks. I’ll be gone even more this week, my husband is about up to his eyeballs with my wacko schedule, and I'm about shot.

In my lab coat.
(Ignore the weirdly positioned hand.)

But right about now is when things start to get fun. For the first month of rehearsals, we met in a little church. The going was tedious: line memorization, getting accustomed to the other actors, interpreting the director’s directions, puzzling through the play’s nuances, etc.

Then last week we moved into the theater and added costumes, props, music, and lights.

View from the wings.

Now the lines flow without thought (almost) and the focus is on nailing the transitions and getting comfortable in the new space. I have an actual desk to sit behind and a swivel chair with wheels from which I dispense sage medical advice while hoping I don't roll backwards off the stage.

Running lines.

I like this play. It’s funny, poignant, and earthy. The characters have depth, the set is minimalistic, the dialogue is punchy (in other words, PG 13). The plot line is this: 1) a single woman finds herself pregnant and alone, 2) she becomes friends with an intellectually-challenged young man, 3) life happens. The first time we ran the whole play off-book, back in that little church, I cried (watching it, not acting—the doctor doesn't cry). It’s good stuff.

Doing what I do for most of the play: sitting on the red sofa waiting for my two little scenes.


Showtimes are Thursday - Saturday, August 7-9 at 8:00 pm; Thursday - Saturday, August 14-16 at 8:00 pm; and Sunday, August 10 and 17 at 3:00 pm at Court Square Theater in downtown Harrisonburg. Get your tickets here!

This same time, years previous: babies, boobs, boo-boos, and bye-byes, the end, a birthday present for my brother, gingerbread, dam good blackberry pie, caramelized cherry tomatoes, dimply plum cake, Indian-style corn, tomato bread pudding, down in the peach pits, hamming up Luke, and seasonal regret.