I have decided that I will not be growing tomatoes again this year. I never got around to planning for an enclosure that would protect the tomato plants from the resident deer. The population seems to grow each year and somehow our yard has been chosen as the place to put down roots. If I really think about it, though, their ancestors were probably here first. My house has stood here for over 50 years but before that there was nothing but fields….and deer, I’m sure. I have learned to accept, grudgingly, that I must share this space with them and also with the other creatures that make their home here.
And that means no growing tomatoes…at least untilI decide if a green house would be worth the investment of funds, time and effort to install.
This is a bit of a dilemma because the idea of growing my own food becomes more appealing each year. I love being able to snip a sprig or two of herbs, as I need them, from the tiny patch of dirt just beyond my kitchen window (somehow the deer have yet to discover the bounty that grows there though it is only a few feet away from the bird bath they have established as their watering trough). I like being able to harvest Meyer lemons year-round from the tree that reliably produces fruit despite the abuse it gets from my yard mates. But most of all, I will always remember the sweet fragrance of freshly-picked ripe tomatoes from seasons past. Maybe one day…
It just so happens that about this time each year my husband talks of moving to the coast –to escape to a simpler way of living. We fantasize about having a place with pigs and goats and chickens and our very own vegetable garden, of course. We would spend our mornings tending to chores but we would make time to ride our bikes a few miles to reach land’s end and have a sandwich on the beach. We would pick up bread and cheese from local shops in town but really, I’d be happy making the bread myself and would even attempt to make my own cheese. I would make time to bake a cake in the morning because afternoon tea would not be as enjoyable without one. It would be a simple cake; one that is neither fussy nor frilly but made with simple ingredients and taste fresh and light. I’d have a slice (or two) with my tea then maybe another after dinner outside with my husband as we watch the stars above us.
Dreams don’t materialize unless you take a step towards them, I’ve learned. I’ve found the perfect cake to go with this pretty picture. Maybe I should plant those tomatoes after all…
(If you like this cake, you might also like one of my favorite cakes in the archives that is similar to this, my Ligurian Lemon Cake with Meringue Topping)
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (for buttering the pan)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (7½ oz, 235 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped (I used sliced)
- More sliced almonds for sprinkling over the baked cake (the original recipe doesn't do this but I highly recommend)
- 1 cup sugar (8 oz, 250 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup olive oil (3 fl oz, 80 ml)(I would add maybe 2 tablespoons more next time)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (the original recipe doesn't have this but I think it helped)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used almond extract)
- Honey, for drizzling
- 1 large orange, peeled and thinly sliced (I peeled and separated 4 Mandarin oranges instead)
- Preheat your oven to 350℉ and butter a 9-inch springform pan. Dust it with flour, shaking out the excess.
- Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a food processor, combine the nuts and ¼ cup of the sugar and process until finely ground. Combine this with the flour mixture.
- In a bowl an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs together until frothy at medium speed. Add the remaining ¾ cup sugar and beat on high speed until thick and pale yellow, 4-6 minutes. On low speed, beat in the olive oil, orange zest, orange juice and almond extract. Then gently fold flour-almond mixture into egg mixture with a rubber spatula until well blended. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely.
- Before serving, top cake with orange slices/pieces and drizzle with honey. Cut into wedges and serve. Serves 8-10