Monday, July 7, 2014

Early July Garden Update

Its summer. I can tell by the fruit flies that burst free from the makeshift compost bucket in the kitchen.  Note to self: empty bucket the more often.

Ianto's Fava Beans
There are other ways I can tell summer has arrived of course.  The obvious harvest of the aptly-named summer squash is a sure sign that summer has arrived.  We have picked two squash so far from our 4 yellow straight-neck squash plants.  There are many more on their way and I intend to make this cumin pickled squash with the bulk of them.

Does anyone else grow fava beans?  So far I am not that impressed.  I may have planted them too late as I know they like cooler weather, but only about 25% of the plants are sporting a bean pod and I havent seen a single pod with more than 2 beans.  I may just save the seeds and try them again next year...earlier.

The lima beans on the other hand are going to town!  It definitely looks like I will have enough to freeze for winter soups.

Muncher Cucumbers
I can also see some pickles in the future.  In early spring I got disheartened by my 4 piddly cucumber plants so I doubled them.  Its going to be awesome!!  We have already harvested two and they were crunchy and delicious.  To accompany them, I also have some dill that has come to a head quite nicely.

The amish paste tomatoes have all sprouted their bamboo antenae so hopefully they will be a bit more cooperative and let my peppers get enough sun.  The purple cherokee are giant again this year and the yellow german are looking fabulous in their pleats.

Poblanos are coming in strong.  I harvested one yesterday and it was still not quite ripe and lacked that distinctive poblano flavor.  Nonetheless, it was still tasty in the corn chowder.
The fairy tale eggplant are starting to produce.  There is one downside to them.  When one is ripe, it doesnt exactly make enough for dinner (they are about 4 inches long, max).  I am patiently waiting until 6-8 are ready to pick before breaking out my thai eggplant recipe.

Orange Jing Okra
I have a similar problem with okra.  I picked one lonely okra last week.  It got cut up an frozen because, really, what do you do with one okra?!  The plants got happy last week, not due to something I did, and there should be about 8 ready to go by weeks end.  Its still not enough for a meal, but its encouraging. Perhaps they will go gangbusters.  I hear they produce for a very long time so I have faith that, by end of season, we will have an okra feast.

The herbs are loving the rain and mist as well.  The thai basil is more than a foot tall, the lettuce leaf basil is living up to its name, the sage is developing very nice broad leaves, and the parsley, oregano, and thyme and coming into their element.  In fact, I harvested some oregano and basil for tonight's dinner.  I am making a red sauce with navy beans and feta cheese to go over creamy polenta.

 Polenta with Red Sauce and Beans
For polenta:
1 cup corn meal
3 cups water
2 T. butter (optional but totally worth it)
salt & pepper to taste

For red sauce:
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced (notice a theme?)
1/2 cup-ish of red or white wine
1 28 oz can of tomatoes, blended
2 bay leaves (sent from your mother in California)
1 T. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T. honey
1/4 cup basil sliced
2 14 oz cans of navy beans or similar
Feta for sprinkling over the top

Bring water to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in corn meal and whisk to remove lumps.  Stir occasionally until the corn has absorbed the liquid and add the butter. Set aside.

Saute garlic, onion, celery, and carrot in oil until tender.  Add wine (I used an open Zin) and cook until even softer.  The point is for the ingredients to become indistinguishable and fade into the background of the sauce.  Add the blended tomatoes, oregano, and honey.  Trust me about the honey; it takes the edge off any tomato sauce.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until well incorporated and thickened.  Add the beans and the basil and simmer until warmed through.

Serve the sauce over a dollop of polenta, crumble feta over the top and enjoy with a glass of wine.  Applaud yourself for another gourmet meal made in under 30 minutes!

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