Sunday, July 08, 2007

The garden delivers...

The lettuce in the garden is bolting -- not surprising, after our recent 112+ degree temps, although the romaine still appears okay. Green onions are still okay, although with our rocky soil, you gotta get them when it's damp. I doubt any of them will stay good for much longer-- just too hot.

Sugar snap peas are about done, too, and this has been a nice, long season for them, with ample supplies for salads and stirfrys. The vines are browning, and the deer will get the last bits when I yank them up, probably this week.

Green beans have been slow, but we've had a few suppers with them. The plants didn't do as well as I'd hoped, and I may put a few more in the ground when it cools down a bit this week (to high 90s and low 100s -- )

Even though the tomato plants are runty and small, they're loaded with tomatoes, and I'm about to get the first big one. The grape tomatoes have given us a handful -- about enough for a salad. Zucchini, also runty, has a few small ones coming along and the plants are healthy and blooming....just small. I've picked a small eggplant and a green pepper, and we had a quick sauce with those and with fresh tomatoes from someone else's garden over pasta the other night. Very yummy. I don't know what happened with the pepper plants this year: I planted a dozen or so, and something ate all but two of them -- nothing else in the garden, just the pepper plants. Whatever it was hasn't touched the three I planted a few weeks ago.

Tonight we had our first mess of swiss chard, and -- also the first one -- a half a sliced Asian cucumber that I marinated in white wine vinegar, along with a boneless chicken breast that I used a dry rub on and sauteed, then cooked briefly in a little red wine. Love those cukes, and with just one plant this year, I hope we won't get overrun as we have in years past.

But the swiss chard was just exquisite. A neighbor gave me the ultimate recipe and I could just savor this as a whole meal. Here 'tis:

Sweet-and-sour Swiss Chard with Dried Currants

4 Servings
3 pounds green and/or red Swiss chard (about 3 large bunches), tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces.
1 tablespoon olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tablespoons dried currants
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
COOK Swiss chard in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
HEAT oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add Swiss chard and currants; saute until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Drizzle vinegar over and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.
Thank you, Deb!

I also made a very small batch of fresh plum freezer jam with plums from another neighbor's tree. They're the tiny prune plums that are at least half seed, so I washed them and put them with a little water into a pan and cooked it down, then ran the results through a food mill -- had to manually pick out the stones, but it was easy. Got about 3 cups of pulpy plum, to which I added a cup of Splenda (they were very flavorful, but rather sour), and then used the no-sugar pectin to blend with the mixture. I'll put the jars in the freezer tomorrow -- I think it will be fairly soft, but it was really tasty.

I am so grateful for the luscious fresh veggies we get to enjoy from our garden, and the bounty of fresh fruit that we have in this area! It is such fun to cook with whatever is ripe today. The Wednesday farmer's markets begin this week, so there will be even more to choose from. I hope you enjoy this summer's harvest!

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