Today is my mother’s birthday.
My mother loves lilacs. At my childhood home in England there was a huge white lilac tree in the front garden that put forth so many plumes I often wondered how the slender branches held them all up. The air around that tree was thick with a heavy floral aroma as thousands of tiny white flowers released their glorious perfume into the breeze. A couple of years ago I planted a lilac tree in my yard. I couldn’t wait to see her bloom. I’ve waited very patiently, and this year she rewarded me with a mass of fragrant, white-tinged purpleness.
Meet Lilac. She smells divine. I lie under her in the warm sunshine and breathe in her beauty. When it’s time for a break I take a blanket and spread it on the grass right by her, and the “kids” and I sit, soaking up the sun, heady from the delicious scent that wafts around us. Just like my mother, she’s really something is Lilac.
While I am at it, meet Nelly. My father, Ben, had a Nelly. She fascinated me, growing tenaciously up one post of the pergola like she did, and then popping out more huge, beautiful flowers than should be legal for one vine. When I was planting my yard, Nelly was the first plant I looked for. I simply had to have a Nelly of my own.
Nelly is a bit wild. She reaches into every nook and cranny she can find, wrapping her svelte tendrils tightly around anything that stands close enough, and sliding rapidly across the ground when you’re not looking. And when she blooms, she really blooms. Exotic flowers as big as saucers – long, fleshy, pink and white petals with a crown of delicate purple stamens unfurling in the center. She’s always cheerful, is Nelly; and she blooms all summer long. I love her.
Spring has most definitely arrived in the Pacific Northwest and we’re hurtling towards summer at quite a clip. Things are bursting out all over in my yard, and the distant hum of lawn-mowers can be heard all weekend long. Yesterday I picked mint leaves and used them to infuse summer into some tender chicken cutlets. Yesterday’s dinner involved a whole lot of fresh herbs. And this morning I realized that I had forgotten how much I love fresh chives in my scrambled eggs. When I was a nipper, back in England, one of my jobs in the spring and summer was collecting chives from the garden whenever it was a scrambled-eggs-for-breakfast day. I adored snipping off the bright green stalks, and I loved the gentle flavor they added to my plate. The memory makes me want to grow chives. I want to step out of my kitchen and snip those bright green stalks off again, 2 minutes before I need them.
To go alongside last night’s Chicken Cutlets with Herb Butter, I decided on a tomato recipe that involved a serious amount of chives. If you ever want flavor enough to knock your socks off in one forkful – this will do it. Ridiculously sweet, this side will make you wonder how a fruit so small can deliver that big of a punch. The aroma made Farmer Becky and The Big Guy go crazy while they patiently waited for dinner to be served.
None of us were expecting the explosion of intense, sweet, aromatic flavor that walloped our taste buds. The Big Guy said, “Absolutely delicious!”, so many times I lost count. We almost cleaned the dish bare between us. I have just one spoonful stashed in the ‘fridge to go with my lunch today. Yum.
Easy to prepare and quick to cook, this dish makes a stunning side out of the humble tomato. And, oh! how I love those fresh chives. If this is SANE* eating, I am so there.
- ½ lb / 670g grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 TBSP coconut oil
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- Coarse ground pepper and salt
- ¼ cup fresh chives, snipped
- Preheat over to 450 degrees F.
- Put the coconut oil on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven just long enough to melt the oil.
- Toss the halved tomatoes and rosemary into the oil and spread into one layer on the baking sheet.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven until the tomatoes just start to collapse, about 10 minutes.
- Toss with fresh chives into a serving dish.
Serves 4. (Or 2 if you can’t bear to share.)