Supper from the garden
Planning suppers is easy right now. All I have to do is wander around the garden looking for what is ready to be picked, prepared and eaten.
The beans are extremely prolific, the carrots are small, but very carroty flavored, and the herbs are doing well. The garlic has been harvested and is now hanging in the garage to dry. Soon, I’ll roast a couple of dozen heads, then freeze them for a scrumptious addition to pasta sauces or spread on fresh-baked bread. I’ve been known to eat a whole head without adding anything else.
The corn is tasseling, the sunflowers are blossoming, and the summer squash are just the right size for adding to salads, stir-frys or pasta sauce. The dill is ready, but the cucumbers aren’t just yet. The tomatoes are starting to ripen, but it will be a few days before we have fresh basil, tomato and cucumber salad.
Suppers have been filled with lots of nutrition. I start with olive oil, garlic and fresh onions. From there, I have created a mild vegetable sauce for topping linguine or angel hair or a zestier sauce for crowning short pasta, such as shells, penne, or rotini.
For the mild sauce: I sauté three or four sliced garlic cloves, one thinly cut onion, then add and sauté trimmed whole yellow or green beans, a sliced up yellow summer squash or zuchinni, and tiny carrots. To this, I add two or three cups torn spinach and cover the pan for a few minutes. Add more olive oil, if necessary, or lighten the sauce with a little chicken stock or broth.
For the zestier sauce: Start with the same amount of garlic and onion, add a few beans, then slice up a couple of hot peppers (remove seeds if a milder sauce is wanted) and add to the skillet. Then add a few turnip greens, pak choy or kale, or a combination. Cover and steam for a few minutes.
To both sauces, I use whatever herbs are ready, such as fresh basil or parsley, which I sprinkle on top of each serving. Serve with lots of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Though the tomatoes aren’t ready just yet, wonderful salads can still be made. Use spinach and lettuce, tiny carrots, sliced up summer squash, fresh green peppers, fresh onions, nastursium leaves, tiny or sliced cucumbers and fresh parsley. Top with a simple dressing of olive oil, cider vinegar, and a little garlic powder.
Early August is also the time for many ripened berries. Our blackberry patch has been almost devoured by Japanese beetles, but some of the fruit is surviving so I can pick a few berries everyday for making jam or pudding.
Several local farmers grow wild blueberries, which are the very best for making jam, pies, cakes, sauces and other nutritional delights. One of my favorite recipes is for this light and delicious blueberry cake.
Very Light Blueberry Cake (9x9-inch pan)
2 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
one-half teaspoon salt
one-half cup Crisco shortening
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 and one-half cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
one-third cup milk
1 and one-half cups fresh wild blueberries
Separate eggs. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add about one-quarter cup sugar while beating. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, adding salt and vanilla. Gradually add the remaining sugar. Beat in egg yolks and beat. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the shortening mixture alternately with the milk.
Fold in egg whites. Stir in blueberries (to help keep the berries evenly distributed in the batter, first sprinkle a little of the flour on the berries before stirring into the batter). Pour into a greased baking pan. Sprinkle on a little granulated sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Best served warm.