Bumper Crop

Bumper Crop is my attempt to celebrate the intersection of the garden and the kitchen — an intersection at which many of us love to linger, I think.  This week’s Bumper Crop is tiny, adorable tomatoes.

Tiny, adorable, plentiful

Tiny, adorable, plentiful

How grateful I feel, in late September, to have lovely little tomatoes practically bursting off the plants.  The tomatoes in the photo are a mix of Jaspers and Sun Golds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  I have been so pleased with these tomatoes.  They are both prolific and delicious.

Almost too pretty to eat . . . almost

Almost too pretty to eat . . . almost

We consume a lot of these little guys while harvesting.  Many of them I pitch over the fence into the chicken yard, and the birds have a great, squawky time snapping them up.  The tomatoes that make it to the house, I put on a glorious Rebecca Wood Pottery platter (which was a very generous wedding gift years ago).  That color contrast — glossy shiny red and yellow against glossy shiny dark swirly blue — I love it.  It makes the tomatoes look all the more appetizing, and so I eat a lot of them one-by-one or in small handfuls as I’m mousing around the kitchen.

But this wouldn’t be a true Bumper Crop unless there were almost too many tomatoes to use up, right?   Luckily, no matter how many of these I eat au naturel, there are plenty left to make one of my favorite things: Flatbread with Schmeer and Salad.

Flatbread with Schmeer and Salad

Tomatoes, hummus, flatbread, basil - ready for yummy action

Tomatoes, hummus, flatbread, basil – ready for yummy action

First, prepare the tomato salad: slice small cherry tomatoes in halves, julienne a few leaves of basil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using a spoon, measure out the olive oil and red wine vinegar:  5 spoonfuls of olive oil to 2 spoonfuls of vinegar.  Mix.

Now, the flatbread or naan: sprinkle one flatbread lightly with water.  Toast in the oven for just a few minutes to make it warm and tender.

The final ingredient you’ll need is some good, creamy hummus.  I would like to tell you I make my own hummus from scratch, but I have wasted too many fine chick peas and expensive jars of tahini and never got a hummus that I love as much as this prepared brand.  Life is too short–I just buy hummus so I can really enjoy it.

Now for assembly: Tear off a piece of flatbread, schmeer on some hummus, spoon on some tomato salad and munch.  This part is messy, as the tomato-ey, vinegary oil dribbles down your hand and chin, so have a napkin handy.

Now it's really ready for yummy action

Now it’s really ready for yummy action

My two wishes for you today: that you have tomatoes still spilling out of your garden in September, and that you make and enjoy this dish as much as I do.  Bon appetit!

Have bike, will travel

That’s the motto for the Etc. Family.  Our family outings almost always include our bikes, and those bikes make each trip affordable and memorable.  We save money because we spend the majority of our time pedaling around, and seeing the world from the seat of a bicycle means you see lots of things you might not have noticed otherwise.

The best item we have ever purchased as a family has to be this little neon-pink beauty:

Biking is so fun when Dad does the hard work!

Biking is so fun when Dad does the hard work!

It’s called a trailer bike and, if you’re a parent who likes to ride, it has the power to change your life.  It has definitely changed ours.  Thanks to Santa for bringing it last Christmas (wink, wink).  The smart little contraption attaches to the adult bike’s seat post and allows the little one to pedal and steer but not really affect the ride other than the added weight and balance challenges.  Their literature also says that kids who use a trailer bike have been known to learn to ride on their own faster, because they get to experience the sense of balance and motion necessary to keep a bike upright.  If that’s true, it is simply gravy to us, because the real benefit is that we can all go riding as a family so much more easily.  And L’Oiseau does contribute to the pedaling somewhat, so it’s easier on the adult than a simple “pull-behind” cart would be.

Here are some recent bike trips we’ve enjoyed:

The Atlanta Beltline: great riding and great public art

The Atlanta Beltline: great riding enhanced by great public art

Silver Comet Trail during a rainy Spring Break

Silver Comet Trail during a rainy Spring Break

Chattanooga Riverwalk - a stop near the rowing club to stretch our legs

Chattanooga Riverwalk – a stop near the rowing club to stretch our legs

We also had a great time riding on the Athens Greenway, but failed to get photos.  Bad blogger!  Bad, bad blogger!

A trailer bike does take a little effort to get comfortable piloting.  You may have noticed that all the action shots show L’Homme riding with L’Oiseau on the back.  I have only clocked about 15 minutes with the trailer behind my bike, because, well, truthfully, L’Homme is happy to be the pilot of the bicycle-built-for-one-and-a-half, so I take the easy road and just pedal alongside them.  According to my darling husband, the balance and turning radius is definitely affected, so it takes some getting used to, but it’s certainly doable and so worth it for affordable family fun.

P.S. For those who want details, the trailer bike we purchased is from a German company called Weeride. IMHO, it was very affordable: we paid $89 to get it from Amazon, and it took only some very basic assembly.  L’Oiseau has ridden on it at least 20 times in the past 8 months, and it shows no signs of wear.  Soooooo worth it!