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_7291_ed_lI’ve got a medium sized crop of tomatoes this year. Some varieties haven’t done much, like the Green Zebras in the photo, but others have been prolific, like the dark red Indigos in the photo. Of course, the bright orange and sweet garden-candy Sungolds, are tasty and prolific as usual. The yellow ones are Yellow Mortgage Lifters. This photo is of one tray of tomatoes about to be started in the dehydrator.

It’s nice to dry any surplus tomatoes I have, because I love having dried tomatoes during the winter. My favorite way to use them is in soups. I simply grab a couple of handfuls of dried tomatoes and throw them in a kettle of water. They soften up and the water leeches out a nice tomato flavor for the broth. Then I throw in whatever else I want, often string beans and summer squash from the freezer.

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.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but I’ve got a lot of tomatoes to deal with. Now that our cool summer has turned warm (even a month later than our usual late summer), my tomatoes are ripening. There are a few summer squash coming still, as the photo shows, but the tomatoes are now overwhelming me.  Since I put in about 15 plants and 12 varieties, I shouldn’t be surprised at the volume I’m getting now.  (more…)

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…)

saladOne of the mantras of the eat-local movement is to eat what is in season. This has several advantages, among them reduction in energy used in shipping foods hundreds or thousands of miles, as well as saving the monetary and environmental costs associated with the energy saved. Other advantages are the increase in dietary variety and improved nutritional quality. Instead of eating the same half dozen foods all the time, sometimes from local sources, sometimes from a hemisphere away, eating locally means consuming early, late and winter season foods as they are available.

I’m now producing food year-round, so I am changing my eating habits to match what I produce. (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.