After our sojourn to New York, Tennessee seems positively vast and serene, especially in the late August light. I've been so exhausted I've yet to even unpack. Brocade trousers are tangled with winklepickers and indignant silk shirts spilling out of the old Samsonite next to the bed as I've rummaged through them to retrieve necessities like medicine and toothpaste. Treasures I acquired are strewn on my dining room table. Books and magazines: Kinfolk, Diner, Meat Paper, and Lucky Peach, a biography of M.F.K. Fisher and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's The Physiology of Taste. Tins of salt: black, pink, and truffle next to a crumpled, long since empty brown paper bag stamped "milkbar". There's also patina mottled flatware, a cow skull, The Birthday Party's Peel Sessions on vinyl, and a cheap pair of round, wire rimmed sunnies. Suffice to say, for now, the trip was a feast. It was grand, and I'm glad to be home.
I imagined my summer was going to be this over-exposed heat wave during which I would make gazpacho, read novels, write daring manuscripts, snap effortless, enigmatically flawed photos with a Brownie, and cook everything over an open fire. Float. I look at too many photographs. These real months did not turn out to be a languid roll of film full of light leaks and rippling water. I may have not seen the seaside or spent as many evenings on the porch as I'd imagined, but instead this summer was animated. We have a our new project afoot that I keep alluding to and between the two of us have been researching everything from holiday in Romania to how to make kombucha to the Chinese zodiac. I am, as it turns out, a water pig in love with a fire tiger. Huh.
I'm excitable. That's evident. I say yes to everything. But often I get so ahead of myself that I actually feel behind, like I'm forever catching up, keeping up, tripping over my shoe-laces. I careen. Scramble. Forever late with wild hair & impudent eyeliner smeared along my lash line. Flour every where. I rather like to think I'm not behind in the first place. I like to look at the cliques of dirty cups that congregate on my counter and think it is just so. And no matter how frantic my internal or external reality, every day ends beneath a white sheet tucked neatly beneath his arm like a parcel. There's always that. And that is better than surf or grilled peaches or finally finishing Infinite Jest. Which is saying a lot. Because those are some of the best things on this green earth.
For now I leave you with these seemingly eccentric yet comforting muffins. These tomato muffins & I are kindred spirits. Inspired by Russell's (of Chasing Delicious) tomato cake, I decided to do some sweet tomato baking myself because I always have more than I can eat due to my frantic, greedy hoarding.
Tomato Ginger Muffins with Pine Nuts, Olive Oil, and Orange Blossom Water
yields 12 muffins
Heirloom brandywines fresh off the vine, toasted pine nuts, fresh ginger, cinnamon, olive oil, orange blossom water, and buttermilk are married in these muffins by the powers vested in Michael Ruhlman's quick bread ratio. With nothing more than his ratio, inspiration, and a flavor brainstorm I was able to make these beautifully crowned and impossibly moist muffins. No recipe. And anyone else can find this creative baking freedom too. Ratios & a scale. They will change your baking life. If you're feeling inclined I bet these muffins would be good with a glaze of some sort, perhaps a citrus or ginger.
Ruhlman's Basic Quick Bread/Muffin Ratio (by weight):
2 parts flour
2 parts liquid
1 part eggs
1 part fat (for this recipe I used 1/2 part fat)
1 tsp baking powder per cup of flour
1 tsp salt per 2 cups flour (I just do it to taste)
1 part sugar (if making a sweet bread/muffin... I use sugar to taste)
1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 large eggs (120 g)
1/2 cup (120 mL) tomato purée
1/2 cup (120 mL) buttermilk
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Heat oven to 350° F.
Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium high heat, stirring/tossing often until browned & fragrant.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until only just combined. Add in the pine nuts and stir until just distributed evenly. You don't want to over stir because this will make your muffins tough.
Pour or scoop batter into a well oiled or lined muffin tin filling 3/4 of the way full. I use a non-stick spray whether I use liners or not.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen & a cake tester (or toothpick or skewer) comes out clean.
Let cool on a rack. Enjoy!