Telling you that today is the first Friday in 16 months that a 7 a.m. post didn’t publish here feels very meta, as one of my grad school professors used to say. Back in those days, when we were reading heavy essays by literary critics like Foucault, workshopping stories on a weekly basis, being ever surrounded by writers who were writing to other writers about writing, and then talking about it together, as writers, anyone who popped his or her head out of our little world for even a moment would see that meta discourse gets weird. A little too in your head. Analytical. Buried in layers. I had basically decided to avoid it here, no more blogging about blogging, you’re welcome, until here we were this Friday morning without a scheduled post, and so this afternoon I got thinking about the reasons we blog again, right as I scooped out the last bowl of tomato cobbler and ate.
I made the cobbler Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday afternoon was wet and dreary, the kind of afternoon that begs for warm things being pulled from the stove, but Wednesday morning was different. Wednesday morning was clear and light and still. We’d woken up at 6:45 AM, the way we did every day this week, in order to greet the morning with a walk, the two of us hand in hand and wearing headphones. Then, it had been cool and quiet. Few cars on the streets in our neighborhood. Only one or two other people, out walking their dogs. A couple kids walking to school reminded me that there are kids walking to school, on weekday mornings, even in early August, even in 2013, and that was enough to set my mind racing away from the sounds blasting through my iPhone earbuds. The air smelled clean, like trees. The houses were silent, not yet awake. But it wasn’t until an hour or so later that the sky darkened and the house darkened, and I rose from the sofa where we were working on our laptop screens.
“I’m going to make a cobbler,” I told Tim. Taking stock of this week’s farm loot, I added, “With tomatoes!”
The thing about making food that is different from writing blogs is that food is always relevant. I won’t love today’s cobbler so much that I don’t want breakfast on Sunday, for example. I won’t cook for two years and, think, Well, that was fun, but now I’ve eaten all there is to make. And nobody says, “I don’t want to cook because too many other people are cooking right now,” the way they do about blogging or book-writing or, sometimes, other creative works. Food is everybody’s. No matter how much we eat, no matter how much we cook!, we still need to do it again. We are people, and this is how we are made. Food is a great Universal. Go to Paris, move to Argentina, sell all your belongings and camp around the country with your kids: You still have to feed yourselves, regularly, over and over again, as long as you shall live.
Blogging, on the other hand, is not so primal. One might argue, perhaps, that creating and beauty-finding are necessary, but blogging? We all know it’s a hobby, a job, a pastime, a lark. Over the last five years of engaging here, with this food-loving audience, I’ve had people tell me everything from “Nobody cares about blogging” to “I don’t care about blogging” to “Must be nice to be you, with so much free time to kill.” I’ve been defensive about blogging and protective about blogging, and yet that same me has regularly shrugged my shoulders, looked at Tim and said, Well, maybe it is time to quit.
I came to a decision this week, this week of rainy weekdays and tomato cobblers and morning walks, one I reserve the right to go back on but which I’m announcing just the same: We aren’t going to be blogging on schedule here anymore, at least not on the current schedule, each Tuesday and Friday morning at seven. We have an agreement with one of our sponsors to post twice a week, so we’ll still shoot for at least two hellos, but they might be on those days or they might be on others, and they very likely won’t be at the crack of dawn. We will, however, keep cooking and eating and finding joy in it, the way we did Wednesday, the way I’m doing right now,
Speaking of which, I’m in the throes of summer tomato love, which I suspect many of you understand, and one of the best ways to showcase them is with this wildly easy tomato cobbler. If you can make it on a rainy day, all the better.
Makes four to six servings
I went with one of the simplest versions of tomato cobbler filling I could find—just a basic blend of oil, garlic, tomatoes, flour, and chili flakes. For the topping, I pulled out the most recent biscuit recipe I’d tried and loved, from Spinach Tiger. If you haven’t had success with homemade biscuits before, definitely check out Angela’s post—lots of helpful hints and detail.
for the filling:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh summer tomatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (we used einkorn)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
A few shakes of pepper
for the biscuit topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour (we used einkorn flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup yogurt (I thinned mine out just slightly, so it was just under 3/4 cup, with water to make the difference)
1 or 2 tablespoons yogurt, for brushing
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large, deep skillet, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add sliced garlic and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant but not browned. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a medium bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, flour and red-pepper flakes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper. Add garlic oil and toss together well.
Pour this mixture into a two-quart pan, cover and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
Meanwhile, begin making the biscuit topping:
Mix together einkorn flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into this dry mixture until it looks like coarse sand. Then, put the bowl in the freezer. Take 15 minutes or so to clean up the kitchen. Then, pull out the bowl, add 3/4 cup yogurt (see note above about thinning it slightly), and stir well. Once it’s coming together, use your clean hands to form it into a solid ball, kneading it no more than 10 times. Angela says less is more with the kneading. You want the butter to remain in tiny pieces throughout. Stick this in the fridge until the tomato filling is done.
When filling timer goes off, remove dish and raise oven temperature to 450F. Using your hands, split up the biscuit dough into about eight similar-sized pieces. They don’t need to be perfect balls or shapes—Rustic is good here. Dollop the eight mounds onto the dish of baked tomatoes, placing them evenly over the top (note they will spread while baking). Brush the tops with yogurt. Place in the oven, uncovered.
Bake for 20 minutes, but check at 15. The dish is ready when the biscuits are deeply golden, darker than the ones pictured here, as in practically brown. Trust me on this—I originally took them out at “golden” (then, took their pictures, la dee da) and found raw dough still inside. Back in for another five to ten they went. Because of the natural steam of the filling, the bottoms need a little longer to bake.
When finished, set the baking dish somewhere to cool for 10 minutes or so. Then scoop out big helpings into bowls.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.