Oh fine, I will make the stupid tapenade.

Sorry about the cranky title. The original title was, “As God is my witness, I will never make tapenade again.” That became “Hey, this tapenade stuff isn’t that bad,” which became, “OMG TAP3NAD3 RVLZ1!1,” which became, “Holy ****, I’m out of tapenade!” which became, “Why does my grocery store’s tapenade have soybean oil instead of olive oil? You think they just hate redundancy? Or what?” which became, “Maybe, just maybe, it won’t suck that much to make more tapenade.” (Actually, the title of this post should have been, “As God is my witness, I will never photograph tapenade again.” It’s hard to take a nice picture of tapenade. Would probably have helped if I hadn’t kept putting it in my mouth.)

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive TapenadeUsing pitted olives for the cursed tapenade would have been easier, but all I had were unpitted olives, and unpitted olives taste better anyway…so they tell me. The fat, soft Kalamatas gave up their pits with just a slight squeeze. The miserly Nicoise olives wouldn’t let go of their giant pits until I suffocated them under a bench scraper and beat them. If you invent an olive pitter than can cleanly pit a Nicoise, I will kiss you on the lips without a condom.

So I decided to make my second batch of tapenade with pitted olives until I found a spare bottle of unpitted Kalamatas in my pantry and dropped a jar of Nicoise olives at the grocery store, breaking the seal on the lid. My grocery store doesn’t have signs that say YOU BREAK YOU BUY, but as a matter of principle I try to abide by that rule in life. I took my frustrations out on the olives. They exacted revenge by breaking up into teams: every once in a while a pit dove into the olive pile and an olive dove into the pit pile. That’s my explanation for why that kept happening because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do something that dumb on my own.

“Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you’ll be surprised at how little you have.” — Ernest Haskins

“Pit a giant pile of expensive French olives and at the end of the hour you’ll be surprised at how little you have.” — Annie

Tapenade is so salty, even with soaked olives, that I like to cut it with sun dried tomatoes, which add a nice sweetness and acidity. It also helps you stretch out your hard-earned tapenade. I love spreading it on hot toast or dropping a small spoonful into a big bowl of ripe, summer tomatoes. It seems to keep forever in the fridge, which is great because you can work it into sandwiches and smear it on fish, adding lots of big, complex flavor without extra labor. My recipe is fairly standard, nothing creative or unusual like this one or this one, but if it’s your first time making tapenade, I think you’ll like it. The flavor, I mean, not the work.

GRUELING SUN DRIED TOMATO AND OLIVE TAPENADE

Ingredients:
· Olives, any variety, any combination, as many as you can stand to pit
· An equal volume (eye it) of sun dried tomatoes
· 1 or 2 rinsed anchovy fillets
· 1 or 2 garlic cloves
· 1 or 2 Tablespoons of rinsed capers
· 1 or 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1) Soak the olives in fresh cold water for an hour or two. If your capers were packed in salt instead of brine, throw the capers into the water to soak too. Rinse.

2) Pit the olives unless they’re already pitted, lucky you. Place olives in a food processor with the other ingredients and process until it’s as fine as you’d like. I like it a bit chunky, but not too too chunky. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle, but by the time you’re done pitting the olives, you probably won’t feel like it. I know I didn’t.

3) Store tapenade in the refrigerator for at least a day to let the flavors meld. Fall in love slowly and tragically.

I am an aesthete!

Food and Paper, host of the July edition of Does My Blog Look Good in This? granted my pea photo the award in Aesthetics.

I…don’t think I’ve ever won anything before. Not on merit, I mean. I won $50 in a drawing in high school and own a mug that says World’s Best-Looking Shoemaker, but that mug technically belongs to my dad, who isn’t and wasn’t a shoemaker. Neither am I. So I’m proud and more than a little surprised to have won any category, especially in light of the beautiful competition.

Thanks to Food and Paper and the judges. I know how hard the process is. The scoring, for instance, requires some math, and I never won anything in math either.

Peas

What bird poo and squirrels thieves can do.

The corn is doing really well. Which is weird because we never planted corn.

Young ear of cornThis reminds me of the terrifically sweet Korean melon harvest we had last year from a Korean melon plant that we never planted. My theory is that we served Korean melon to a guest one day and the guest tossed the rind and a few seeds while walking in the yard. Maybe a raccoon dragged some melon out of garbage and stopped to eat it in our garden.

The corn may have arrived via the droppings of a bird. A squirrel, feasting on a neighbor’s feeder or stealing someone’s Thanksgiving decorations last year might have dropped the corn there. Or maybe there is a gardening god and s/he felt that a lone corn plant directly in front of the only two stacked rocks in the garden would bless us with a zany, zenny peace.

Will the corn be edible and sweet? Might it be popcorn? Will it be standard grain corn that we can somehow turn into a tumbler of ethanol? We’ll have to see. In the meantime, does anyone have any advice on what to do to help a mysterious corn plant?

The mysteriously materialized corn plant