July 13, 2011

Sky High and Tomato Pie

She’s flying. . . . when she swings, she tells us “Push me Sky High!”


My daughter lives more than I did when I was younger, it seems to me. I mean, obviously I lived, but I feel like I did a lot of ghost living at various parts of my life – I watched, I waited, I hesitated on the sidelines a lot. I floated along without really immersing myself. Does that make any sense? I watched other people do things I was too afraid or too shy to do. I got in my own way to a large extent; I still have a tendency to do that.


That’s why my books were so important to me! It was a way of living the experiences I could never experience on my own. When I watch Julia swing, I see her soar – and I think that girl is really living, am I holding her back too much? I try to encourage more than I hinder, but it’s such a hard line to toe, the struggle I have balancing my inner fears and natural cautiousness versus her need to expand. I have a feeling that this will be the issue we struggle with in the days and years to come....


Of course, I do truly feel that without my influence, the girl would be running feral down the street, but it is hard hard hard to reconcile my inner control freak with her need to be the wild little monkey that she is. (Actually my inner control freak is not so inner. It’s outer!) Does anyone else feel like they are performing this precarious balancing act with their children who have personalities that are so vastly different from their own?


I was not a wild little monkey when I was young. And yet here I am, presented with the original Wild Thing, and I feel every day when I look at her – this is someone who could be running her own company someday – or this is someone who could be a professional con artist. Or maybe she’ll just be the world’s Most Argumentative Attorney. And then there would be three generations of lawyers in the family! Actually since I’ve been home with Julia for so long now, I might have to drop the lawyer moniker and just call myself someone with a law degree. . .

(Please no jokes about how how being a professional con artist and a lawyer is basically THE SAME THING. I’ve heard those already, har dee har har!) I suppose everyone has these fears about their kids, to some extent. (But probably not the con artist part?)

What does this have to do with Tomato Pie? I have no idea! That was quite the little tangent I just embarked upon . . . all from a picture of a girl on a swing. . . .


So. If you want to truly experience summer yumminess and really grasp the influence with which food can impact your life, you must read Laurie Colwin’s food memoirs at some point. MUST.


Laurie’s writing and her food share a common theme: approachability. Her writing is simple and plain, her food is simple and plain. Please don’t confuse plain with lack of flavor or lack of interest, her work and her recipes are neither. What you won’t find are strange and hard to pronounce ingredients and complicated techniques. What you WILL find are things that are just plain delicious and elegant in their simplicity. You’ll think, why did that way of preparing food never occur to me?


The woman stole my heart when I discovered that she had an entire chapter in each of her books solely devoted to the making of gingerbread! I collect gingerbread recipes and it’s one of my Most Favorite Treats.


Her chapter titles alone will give you a great indication of how she writes and the personality behind the writer – ‘Why I Love Cookbooks’, ‘Real Food for Tots’, ‘Jam Anxiety’, ‘How to Face the Holidays’, ‘Desserts that Quiver’, ‘The Egg and You’ and ‘How to Cook Like an American’, just to name a few.

I’ve been making her Tomato Pie recipe for ages and ages now, and it remains an eternal favorite. My husband Andrew adores it, if that sells you on anything.


I could talk and talk about how amazing Tomato Pie is, but better that I let Laurie do the talking for me – here’s the recipe in her own words:

“Often at night I find myself ruminating about two previously mysterious tomato dishes, which I was brazen enough to get the recipes for. One is Tomato Pie and is a staple of a tea shop called Chaiwalla, owned by Mary O’Brien, in Salisbury, Connecticut. According to Mary, the original recipe was found in a cookbook put out by the nearby Hotchkiss School, but she has changed it sufficiently to claim it as her own. The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending 2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and approximately 3/4 cup milk, either by hand or in a food processor. You roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it. Then you add the tomatoes. Mary makes this pie year round and used first quality canned tomatoes, but at this time of year 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes are fine, too. Drain well and slice thin two 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, then lay the slices over the crust and scatter them with chopped basil, chives, or scallions, depending on their availability and your mood. Grate 1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar and sprinkle 1 cup of it on top of the tomatoes. Then over this drizzle 1/3 cup mayonnaise that has been thinned with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and top everything with the rest of the grated Cheddar. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degree F for about 25 minutes. The secret of this pie, according to Mary, is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. She usually bakes it early in the morning, then reheats it in the evening in a 350 degree F oven until it is hot.

It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup of coffee.” –Laurie Colwin from ‘More Home Cooking’.

If you love food and want to be entertained while reading about food, treat yourself by seeking out ‘Home Cooking’ and ‘More Home Cooking’ and enter the delicious world of Laurie Colwin (and then please write to me and let me know how awesome you think she is!).

P.S. The Tomato Pie recipe is in ‘More Home Cooking’.

15 comments:

  1. This looks so fun! I would like to be that kiddo flying in the air on that swing.

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  2. Oh me too Ana! Wouldn't it just be the best to be able to swing like that and be having that much fun? ~Melissa

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  3. mmm, the tomato pie looks so yummy!

    http://chicgeekery.blogspot.com/

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  4. Beautiful entry, Melissa.

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  5. Thank you Laura, I appreciate your sweet words! ~Melissa

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  6. Hey Mal! Thanks for coming by and saying hello! I just checked out your site o' coolness, it's awesome! (That's my favorite word and I abuse it frequently.) ~Melissa

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  7. So precious. I try to encourage more than hinder, too. It's hard--I want my girls to be who they are and not who I think they should be. I think they will make it in spite of me. :)

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    1. ha ha! Julia will definitely be Julia, in spite of me, that's a given!

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  8. Beautiful post- beautiful pictures, absolutely lovely sentiment. There's nothing like being a parent to heighten your own anxiety levels about how your kids will turn out and all the anxiety that goes into thinking about how your actions will influence the person they will become... mostly I try not to think about it too much :) and hope for the best of course!

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    1. I'm hoping for the best right along with you! Trying always to tame the anxiety beast....:)

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  9. Great post - I totally get it. You are a lot like me and Julia is a lot like my daughter Keira.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear from other kindred spirits! Your daughter's name is Keira? That's lovely!!

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  10. Yep my girls are named Keira Leigh and Tegan Lucy.

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  11. Just found you via a 'Laurie' search! I am a bit in love with her just now myself. Her books are never far away from me and I am rationing and slowly reading my way through her fiction! Lovely to have found you here, Jo@bindsyoutome

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    1. Hi Jo!! I can't tell you how I adore her books. I have re-read them countless times -- actually I usually keep one of them on my nightstand so I can just pick it up at any given moment. They are hands down my favorite cookbooks, not for the recipes per se, but because her voice is so strong and I just love her writing SO much!! I need to find her novel...:)

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