On my way home, there is the dear abode of my Garden Man. Now from the most tender stalks of asparagus in April (which is one of the foods which is acceptable to eat with your fingers and still consider yourself a debutante) to the last squashes and pumpkins of fall, my Garden Man changes his sign at the end of his driveway. Tomato's, ASPARAGUS, Zucchini, etc. (Yes, the tomato is, or has something, we just don't know what.) You pay through the slot in the top of a coffee can. You can make your own change, if you need it. His lettuces would drive Rapuzel's mother insane with desire. His tomatoes are cheap, plentiful and best eaten in the fist, over the sink, with some salt. His cucumbers make that down home favorite of cucumbers and onions never arrive at the dinner table. I really do appreciate my Garden Man. Next year, he is going to Alaska, he's pretty sure for the last time. He says he's darn lucky to go to that beautiful God's country as many times as he has, but he won't have tomatoes for me next summer. He was a POW. I'm guessing in Korea, but I don't know for sure. He flies his POW flag under the US flag every day, not just since 9/11. He takes it down when it rains.
Today Garden Man had the last of his Tomato's. He took down the plants and that's the last of 'em. For dinner, I made salad, with a dressing I learned from my father's girlfriend of many years. People say that it's good. In an effort to appease the mother of my beloved, I have determined approximate measurements for this dressing.
- 5 cloves of garlic (more, if you can handle it)
- 2 t kosher salt
- 3 T balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 2 t honey
Do you have a mortar and pestle? I hope you do, because if you don't, you can't make this dressing. Sorry. You should get one. My boyfriend observed, after I had broken mine and was threatening to break his while bitching about work and making dressing one evening, that perhaps I could use a more sturdy model. Thanks to him, I now have one which is granite.
About your garlic... trust me on this one. If you can get garlic at your local hippie-dippie-organic store, please do. This dressing is all about the garlic, so if you get funky garlic, you get funky dressing. Don't use elephant garlic because it's just too bland. Take those five or more (if you dare) cloves of rock hard garlic and smash them with your knife, then cut off the hard ends and peel. Throw them in your mortar and pestle.
Add the salt. This doesn't look like much, but this is the critical part. Now, BEAT THE LIVING HELL OUT OF THAT GARLIC! POUND THAT PESTLE INTO THAT MORTAR LIKE FUCKING CHRIST INTENDED!
After the haze has cleared and everyone around you is starting to shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other while struggling for another conversation thread, notice the consistency of your concoction. Creamy? Yes, love. It should look creamy. If it does not, put in a tad more salt.
Now, about your vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is tasty. Obviously there are some that are better than others. I'll recommend FINI to you, because you can spend big bucks, but this stuff is moderately priced and tasty. The better the vinegar, the better this stuff will turn out. Cheap, shallow balsamic makes dressing that is hollow and ends on the tip of your tongue, only to let the garlic scorch your epiglottis. Get some decent 'traditional'stuff from Modena, with a red or silver label. Or get gold... show off! Add the good stuff and stir for about thirty seconds while your garlic continues to break down.
Okay, you're almost through. Now, for the olive oil. Same rules apply. I would recommend FRANTOIA. Again, not too expensive, but good. Add that and the honey and stir for about a minute.
Now comes the fun part. You must taste and alter. Garlic too strong? Add a bit of mustard powder and/or more honey. Too salty? Add more vinegar.
Now, add to your favorite salad, but sparingly, and toss. This stuff is pretty strong, although my darling believes that calling it kiss of death is misleading, so go easy at first. Enjoy!