IMG_7362_ed_lFor over a month I’ve been enjoying my favorite summer dish, a tomato, cucumber and feta cheese salad. This year I’ve had more of these than usual, given the productivity of my tomatoes and cucumber. My Sungold and Indigo tomatoes have produced hundreds of tomatoes, enough for salads, sharing and dehydrating. Of course, in addition to tomatoes and cucumbers, I like to throw in whatever else I can from the garden. I forgot to put in some celery, but did include my favorite summer squash, trombetta, and a new string bean, Musica Romana. All in all, combined with some whole grain bread, this provides a delicious meal.

I should add that if you’ve never tried a homegrown cucumber, particularly an English or Persian style cuc, they are nothing like store bought. They lack the unappealing paraffin coating, are crisp and crunchy, and have a good cucumber taste. Grow some, or hie thee to a farmers’ market and buy some.

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IMG_6876_ed_lThis morning I was excited to harvest my first fig of the season, and it was tasty! I then started my regular pass through the garden, harvesting what’s available today. My two BIG items for the day are my string beans and my plums.

The string beans are a new variety for me, a musica romana. These beans are huge! And the plants (about eight) are very productive. Since this is just the beginning of their harvest, I’ll have to make room in the freezer for lots of them. They provide a nice addition to my winter soups.

IMG_6877_ed_lThe plums have been ripening like crazy this week. This will be my biggest harvest ever (what you see in the picture is about 1/3 of the harvest so far this week) and I’m struggling to deal with all of them. They don’t travel well because they are so ripe and juicy, so giving them away is harder than my berries.  I started four batches of plum liqueur yesterday. I thought of making jam, but what I’ve been learning is that they are simply too ripe to make good jam. I’ll try to be very careful with them and take them for snacks to dance class tonight and tomorrow. And I’ll take lots of napkins. 🙂

This year looks to be my best yet for growing food. The warm winter, followed by a wet spring, resulted in blossoms galore and lots of soil moisture for my plants. Following is a sampling of fruits and veggies on their way, (more…)

Dinner made from all homegrown ingredients.A couple years ago, I cooked a meal for the guys in my men’s group that I called a Michael Pollan-type meal. By that, I meant that the ingredients were primarily home-grown, following one of the meals in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. From my previous posting about that meal, I count eight different foods I prepared that were from my garden. This week, I repeated that exercise, again cooking for the guys in my men’s group. This time the menu was not only quite different, but included many more dishes and ingredients from my garden. Following is the menu. Homegrown-fruit dessert bowl, with apples, blueberries, apriums and pepino dulce.All ingredients except beverages, vodka & sugar (in the liqueur), oils and vinegar were homegrown, for a total of 16 homegrown ingredients, not counting multiple varieties of the same ingredient. It was both a tasty and colorful meal!

(The first photo shows the meal, except for the fruit dessert. The second photo shows the dessert in the serving bowl, before adding the blackberry liqueur. Click on the photos to see a larger image.)

Menu

Salad–Tomatoes (two varieties), cucumbers (two varieties) and purslane, dressed with vinegar and oil.

Entreé–dry beans, cooked, then sauteed with garlic and leeks.

Vegetable side dish 1–string beans.

Vegetable side dish 2–summer squash (three varieties).

Vegetable side dish 3–mixed greens (brocollini and beet greens)

Vegetable side dish 4–beets (boiled, chilled, then dressed with olive oil and vinegar).

Dessert–mixed fruit (apples, blueberries, apriums (pulled from the freezer) and pepino dulce) topped with homemade blackberry liqueur.

I like to go out in the garden every morning and see what’s ready to harvest. I was out of town for a few days, so this morning’s harvest was a little larger than normal. But, it gives a good idea where I am in my summer crop cycle. Before I forget, I should add that the photo doesn’t include a handful of red raspberries and blueberries that made it into my belly instead of the photo. (As always, click on the picture to see a larger version.) So, what’s here? Roughly, from left to right: (more…)

It seems like only a month ago I was grousing because I was between my winter and spring crops and didn’t have a lot to harvest. Time flies and I’m now probably at my peak harvest for my summer crops. They will continue to produce for the next several months, but I doubt I’ll beat last night’s harvest. I spent about an hour picking cape gooseberries, tomatoes (four varieties), apples, squash (three varieties), cucumber, string beans and eggplant. Frankly, I’m amazed at all of this, picked in one evening. I’ll certainly have plenty of fresh food to eat for the next few days, plus plenty to share with friends. I’ll be going to a house concert Sunday to hear Ed Miller sing and John Taylor fiddle Scottish folk music. It will be great to take a salad made from my homegrown goodies for the potluck.