A Simple Revolution

Today, Friday, May 17th is Jamie Oliver‘s Food Revolution Day.  Between being continually motivated by Jamie’s effort to make a change in the way we view/eat/cook food as well as just finishing “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (life changing); I wanted to make the pledge to do something amazing and important in the food community.  However, life really does get in the way of your plans.  So I made a simple pledge, to make a homemade, from scratch cake for my son’s 4th birthday.

I must confess this is an ongoing pledge because despite my full-time job and the busyness of life these days it is one of things I really want to make sure happens every year. I think everyone has something that strikes a chord at what motherhood is and for some reason homemade birthday cakes is one of mine.  I suppose it is because I come from a family of bakers – cakes, cookies, pies, fudge and even candy were always homemade at holidays and family gatherings so to me it is an important tradition to carry on.

The one thing I appreciate about trailblazers like Jamie Oliver, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Waters and the so many other people who are not in the spotlight but trying to make a change for the better in our food culture is the attitude that every little bit helps.  Every simple act to try to eat better, buy local, grow your own food, support small farmers, encourage organics, and keep cooking traditions alive is important.

So this year, I won’t be discouraged that I couldn’t host a neighborhood potluck or a community fundraiser, but instead I will make Ollie’s cake and cupcakes, along with the food for his birthday party using organic, local ingredients where I can and be proud that I am doing my part to keep the tradition of homemade cakes and home-cooked meals alive and well in the Ashborn household.  Of course I will post the results.

As Jamie says – BIG LOVE!

The Dream of the Red Tomatoes (and yellow and pink and green and purple and striped…)

Every time my husband comes up from the garden with the last of the cauliflower or a huge bunch of leeks or green onions, I find myself longing for the day when the tomato plants will be full of luscious ripe fruit.  Funny since by the end of the season last year I was actually sick of fresh garden tomatoes.  I think I moaned aloud when Clive brought the last few batches of tomatoes from the garden.  And by batches, I mean about a 100 tomatoes each time.

The Bounty

The Bounty Close Up


Sad and disgraceful that I would ever find displeasure in our garden’s bounty, but after eating tomatoes fresh, making soups, salads, sauces, salsa and jams, canning them, roasting them, giving them away and putting them on top of most everything we ate last summer, I couldn’t help it.

Canning Collage

Canning Tomatoes

Roasting Tomatoes Collage

Oven Roasting Tomatoes

But now I find myself longing for that burst of flavor that only a homegrown tomato has.  One of the simplest and tastiest recipe I came across for using a large amount of tomatoes was Jamie Oliver’s Fresh Tomato Soup recipe.

Jamie's Tomato Soup Collage 4

Fresh Tomato Soup

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver


1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 lbs large ripe tomatoes – leave a few of their little green leaves on

A handful of fresh basil

Sea salt and fresh pepper

White wine vinegar

5 -6 tbsp. cream

Extra virgin olive oil


Throw the carrots, garlic, tomatoes and most of the basil (set aside a few smaller leaves for a garnish) into a blender and blend until smooth.  I found it easier to do this in several batches.  Pour into a large saucepan and season well with salt and pepper.  Simmer gently on medium low heat for about 20 minutes until it thickens up., stirring occasionally. Add a small drizzle of white wine vinegar and then bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the cream and remove from the heat.  Serve as is or use an immersion hand blender to make it smooth. I skipped the last two steps because I felt it tasted fresher without the cream and I preferred the rustic texture.  Serve with a few small basil leaves on top as a garnish

Jamie serves it with his cheesy cheddar toast soldiers and I served it with my sister and my famous “After Church Sunday Cheese Bread”.  Any good cheesy toast recipe you have will do.

The Fay Sisters’ After Church Sunday Cheese Bread


2 slices whole wheat bread

Kraft Parmesan Cheese (any good parmesan will work but for nostalgia sake, I always use the good ol’ Kraft from the big green container)


Garlic Powder


Generously spread butter on one side of the bread.  Sprinkle a healthy layer of parmesan cheese and spread it out evenly with a knife.  Sprinkle a light dash of garlic powder over the cheese.  Broil for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbling and starting to crust up and get brown. Enjoy dunked in the soup or on its own.

Tomato Art

Vintage Tomatoes