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It had been sometime in January 2014 that I’d last been more than a few miles away from The Pickle (or, the bundle of cells previously known as Spawn), so as the Independence Day holiday weekend approached, The Unicorn suggested I get out of town by myself. We had a freezer full of milk, after all, and I’d been complaining about not having any time to write or read or, for that matter, sleep.
I poked around on Airbnb and found the perfect spot: An Airstream trailer on a property about 45 minutes from home, close enough to not waste too much time driving, but far enough away to guarantee I’d feel like I was away. Plus, for the cost of a private room in a house in the same area, I was getting my own walls and a ton of privacy. I booked it happily, and began planning my escape.
I had seen in the various reviews of the place that the owner often left visitors gifts of produce from her garden, and I, too, was a lucky beneficiary: the plate of welcome snacks she left for me included three ripe tomatoes, and there was a bowl of just-picked strawberries in the refrigerator for breakfast.
“Do you mind if I wander through the garden a bit?” I asked. “I have a garden blog—though I’d love to see it.”
The host acquiesced, but noted that her life had been busy and her garden wasn’t as well-maintained as it usually is. “Are you kidding me?” I replied. “I haven’t gardened at all in a couple of years. I’m just thrilled to see what you’ve got.”
She left me to settle in and returned later with an item I’d forgotten and asked to borrow. (Bless her, because that generous act meant I could just stay put for 45 hours without running a single errand…)
“By the way, I have two tomato plants that I haven’t found homes for,” she said. “They’re Stupice.”
It’s funny how you can miss something without even knowing it. “That’s one of my favorite varieties,” I said. “They grow so well!”
“If I had to choose only one to grow around here, that’s the one I’d choose,” she said. It turns out that she starts hundreds of plants, sets dozens of them in her own garden, and sells off the rest to neighbors. But she hadn’t gotten rid of all of them, and she knew she’d never get the last ones in the ground.
“I’ll leave them for you if you’d like,” she said. “I know you said you haven’t gardened in awhile, but…”
I took a deep breath, knowing saying yes meant a commitment to rebuild my container garden supplies, and to do so quickly.
“I’ll take them,” I said. “I’d be happy to give them a home.”
My to do list on Saturday included this item: Make a batch of garlic confit.
I had added this, on this specific day, for some really good reason. This is how I plan the meals for the week—I put together my list of what we’re going to eat on each day, and then I add things to the to do list that are critical to executing the official meal plan. Some might call this OCD or anal or what have you, but I call it the only way I can ensure we actually eat before 10:30 or 11 pm every night.
So, when The Pickle went down for his Saturday morning nap, I got to the business of peeling garlic cloves. I poured in some oil. I got the pan simmering on the stove and cranked it down to low and slow. I mulled over the menu plan in my mind. Perhaps I meant for the garlic confit to replace the chopped garlic in the chard and gnocchi I planned for Monday?
Perhaps I meant to use it in a salad dressing? Perhaps added to a soup I planned to serve on Wednesday? I pondered this while I peeled clove after clove of garlic and popped them in a tiny pan, ready to cover with oil and simmer.
This, folks, is what sleep deprivation does to me. And this is why I have to write everything down, because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t remember who I was half the time. Or all of the time. It really depends on how many times I got up with the boy on a given night.
Regardless, the confit bubbled on the stove, and I gave up trying to figure out why I wanted it in the first place. Whatever I’d meant to use it for would reveal itself in due time, or it wouldn’t, and worst case scenario, we’d have a batch of confit and delicious, garlic-infused oil to use up over the next two to three weeks. I can think of far, far more irritating problems.
Looking to make some delicious garlic confit yourself? Here are some great resources:
- Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen has a great tutorial for making garlic confit using your dutch oven.
- Like me, Nick Evans of Macheesmo uses the stovetop method, though he’s way more accurate than I am, with the whole thermometer thing and all.
- If you want a garlic confit with pedigree, here’s Thomas Keller’s recipe for you, courtesy of The Delicious Life.
- If you have access to sous vide equipment, here’s a great way to prepare not just garlic confit, but confit pearl onions and mini peppers, as well.