Yesterday was my birthday, and after all the food excitement from Maine Fare, I decided to spend it quietly. Still, I had a few little eating pleasures. For my lunch, I took a very ripe local tomato, sliced it in rounds, and put them in a small pan. On top of the rounds I spread some soft, creamy herb cheese that we bought this weekend from Longfellow’s Creamery in Avon, Maine. I make all our bread, so breadcrumbs were easy. A slice of homemade bread torn into little pieces and sautéed with a bit of olive oil until the crumbs were brown. Because the cheese was spicy, the only seasonings I used for the crumbs were salt and pepper. After sprinkling the crumbs on top of the cheese and tomatoes, I baked them in a moderate oven—350 degrees—until the cheese and the tomatoes were hot and soft. They were utterly delicious and simple to make.
I also had a tree-ripe peach from an orchard in Connecticut. My friend Judy Johnson, who is from that area, makes a fall pilgrimage to the orchard every year to get the peaches, and she brings me a big basket of these juicy wonders, ripe and sweet. As if the tomatoes and the peaches weren’t enough, the crowning glory was a piece of rich, chocolate birthday cake that my daughter Shannon had made, following a Mark Bittman recipe. This was the first time she had used the recipe, and the cake was so good that I have the feeling it’s going to be the cake of choice for many birthdays to come.
The weather was warm and sunny, and I ate my lunch on the patio, one of my favorite places, even in the fall, when most everything in the garden is frayed and definitely past its prime. There was a bit of color—leggy yellow violas, leaning pink phlox, still sweet with fragrance, ragged bee balm, and, I must admit, a few weeds here and there. Then, I saw something I have never seen before—two moles fighting in my garden. Two small, furry bodies tussling in the soil until one retreated across the garden and went down a hole. The other mole, with a triumphant kick of dirt, went back down the contested hole and tunnel.
During all this excitement, the dog was very good. I told him to the leave the fighting moles alone, and that’s just what he did. I suppose moles must be somewhat territorial and have frequent scuffles in their tunnels, where we can’t see them.
There were no hummingbirds, and I have it from a friend that this is about the time they migrate, flying incredible distances to points south. Have they left? I will be looking for them at lunch today. At least the crickets and cicadas were still singing, and I’ll be having lunch on the patio whenever the weather allows, until it so chilly that not only do I have to wear a jacket, but also gloves. Then it will be time to have lunch inside. But only then.