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Glorious Summer With Veggies

Glorious Summer With Veggies

Are you just reveling in S U M M M E R right about now? We keep switching between the signature Atlanta weather profiles: hot and muggy with a side of steamy OR breezy, blue and utterly blissful.  With an afternoon shower of course. Sixties in the morning, nineties (in the shade) in the afternoon, but heck, it’s July so I’ll take them both. I stay in Atlanta for the seasons and they rarely disappoint.

The garden is producing like crazy and we are knee deep (ok, I exaggerate but backyard farmers are like fishermen; always out to impress) in cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Aren’t these colors gorgeous?

tomato basket 7.2014

 

I planted over a dozen tomato plants this year because I was tired of having just a few tomatoes rolling in piecemeal over the summer and the plan is working.  We harvest huge handfuls of cherry tomatoes (Super Sweet 100) every day (not including the sun-warmed ones we steal from the vines) and now the big fruits are starting to ripen.  The yellow variety is Lemon Boy and the lighter orange is Early Girl.  Although I’m not a huge Early Girl fan, they were they only reliable tomatoes to produce last year so I had to have at least one plant!  The small bright red tomato (upper right of basket) is a plum tomato and the vines are filled with these.  I have visions of one small jar of tomato paste dancing in my head …  Finally, those medium reds are Parks Whopper, which I find amusing since they are distinctly un-whopper in size.  The small purple green cherry tomatoes are an heirloom, possibly Cherokee Purple, but my tag is missing.

Naturally, the question is “what do you do with all those tomatoes?”.  Eat them, of course!  Tomato sandwiches, tomato tarts, tomato jam, oven-dried tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.  I rarely use a recipe and even more rarely have a plan for what to make.  I think you just have to look at the tomatoes and let them silently suggest a dish.  Hmmm, I like the idea of tomato meditation … a quiet communication with nature … Now that I ponder it, I silently admire them each morning as I water, letting the hose sprinkle them for exactly one Hail Mary per plant before I move on to the next one.  It’s pretty easy to pray the Rosary when the birds are singing, the sky is brightening, the water is gently streaming, and you are surrounded by the sheer beauty of the ordinary.  So many blessings right in front of us if we only open our eyes, but I digress.

One summer several years back, I made fantastic tomato marmalade from a huge harvest of tiny yellow pear tomatoes but I have never again either found that variety or gotten it to grow.  I’m wondering if I can turn my tiny red jewels into something similar  … hmmm … I can still taste that tart, sweet, addictive, weird goodness!  I’ll keep you posted.  And as a caution, if you are canning, please ALWAYS use a recipe!  Botulism is bad.

squash 7.2014

Aren’t the squash pretty?  I’ve been picking them small because we’ve got a lot of birds, rabbits, and caterpillars who would love to make a meal of these (and everything else of course).  We cut these up, tossed them with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and salt then roasted them with sliced red onions in a grill pan on the grill for five minutes. Right off the grill I added a splash sesame oil and  second splash of soy.  You don’t need protein when you’ve got veggies that good!

One more photo of my meager bucket for the day …Remember every little bit of green adds up!

cukes & cauliflower 7.2014

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • homegrown cucumber peels & stem ends (a daily snack or salad component)
  • core & outer leaves of a cauliflower
  • banana peel hiding underneath

Less in the bucket means more on the plate, right?  I pan roasted some wild Keta salmon and paired it with oven roasted cauliflower with lemon & salt, plus baked sweet potatoes.  Normally, since we don’t drench the potatoes with anything rodent-attracting I compost those skins, but my dogs were acting like human compost machines yesterday.  They enjoyed both the salmon AND sweet potato skins.  Either way, no extra green waste hit the landfill!

Soon, I’ll post some photos of the compost pile.  It’s looking surprisingly like soil for the lack of effort I’ve been putting into it!  I’m feeling great things for the fall…

 

 

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Sweet Potato

When I first started photographing my kitchen scraps I had lots of food to show.  Each Tuesday (trash day) when I cleaned out my fridge I felt equal measures guilt (throwing away food!) and virtue (feeding my future garden!) and could justify one with the other.  But after weeks of pulling out slimy cilantro, gross green beans, and leftover lettuce, the little light bulb started to go off in my head while I was food shopping.  Did I REALLY need that second head of lettuce?  Or three different kinds of berries?  Or more pineapple?

When I am confronted with an array of gorgeous produce all of a sudden reason goes out the window.  Forget about shopping hungry, I need to shop without imagination.  Each perfect new ingredient is the star in a new dish or in a dish that we loved but I have not had in a while … and before I know it my basket is piled high and my brain is full of menus and I’m hauling home way more food than I need for a week for four people.  And then Toss It Tuesday happens.

But I’ve changed.  I still don’t shop with a list or a menu plan (although I know that is a good idea for many) but I order just enough meat for two meals, then plan two more vegetable based meals with what I find at the market, replenish my pantry staples and then I know I can “pasta” through the remaining nights of the week.  It’s working much better.  I’m more mindful and while I have less to throw on the compost heap I also have more money in my pocket.

So this week, I have one moldy sweet potato.  Woohoo!  Luckily I grabbed it before it alerted me that it was lurking in my pantry.  Here’s the rest of my bucket:

toss it tuesday sweet potato

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • a rotting sweet potato
  • broccoli leaves and stem scrapings
  • banana peel (hiding)
  • garlic paper
  • orange rind
  • yellow onion skin and stem ends
  • 2 tea bags (hiding)
  • iceberg lettuce core & outer leaves (on the bottom)

What I made with all of that: Cream of Broccoli Soup, classic Wedge Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, Black Olives and Ranch Dressing and Pineapple Orange Smoothies (breakfast), baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup & Grated Nutmeg (lunch).

How mindful are you when you are grocery shopping?

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Musings, The Daily Bucket, Toss It Tuesday

 

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How Sweet It Is

Last night we used up the remainder of the teeny, tiny, amazing locally grown sweet potatoes.  I had an entire small basket full, most no wider than a banana, and many much smaller.  Obviously too small to bake, I peeled and simmered these in salted water then mashed them with just a hint of real maple syrup.  Yum.  They were the centerpiece of supper.  Like eating dessert first!

Of course, all that sweet needs some personality and greens always fit the bill for bitter.  I had two final farm share bunches of kale and swiss chard, so chopped those & quickly sautéed in olive oil with a bit of garlic and splashed with apple cider vinegar.

The least exciting item on the plate was a garlic and sage crusted roast pork tenderloin.  Eh.  It was conventionally raised and we are so used to grass-fed and/or pastured meats that this was just fine.  Protein on the plate.  We ate it and throughly enjoyed the veggies.  It made me realize why we gave up meat for year.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat if my girl (and I suspect my active boys) didn’t need maximum iron.  (And please no comments on how meat is not necessary for optimum health.  My girl was severely iron depleted and I did not even know it.  Plus, I’ve been a carnivore, vegetarian, and short-term vegan and realize every person (family) needs to make their own personal diet choices.)

Anyway, here’s my daily bucket … Image

What you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • eggshells (scrambled eggs for breakfast again)
  • banana peel (smoothies too)
  • lemon half (my morning brew of lemon, hot water, apple cider vinegar & local honey)
  • garlic paper
  • sage stems
  • sweet potato peels (lots hiding underneath too)
  • kale stems
  • swiss chard stems
  • clementine peels (snacks)

Now, what’s for dinner tonight?  And Christmas is right around the corner … need to make plans NOW!

 

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No Place Like Home

The scent of burgers wafted on the air all afternoon.  Hot dogs sizzled on the grills and drinks were a mere $4 a bottle, $5.50 if you wanted a souvenir cup with ice.  We were enjoying a gorgeous family afternoon at the 2014 FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club from a shady spot on the twelfth fairway and it was a perfect day.  But after five hours on the course (and one meal already grabbed on the run), we opted for better burgers and fries. We headed to the home grill.

What you can see (clockwise from top)

  • sweet potato skins
  • banana peels

sweet potato fries 9.22.13

What you can’t see:

  • celery trimmings
  • carrot peels from two pounds
  • l2 onion skins
  • garlic papers
  • peel from six gala apples

What I made with all of that:

  • Grass-fed Burgers with Mushrooms, Sauteed Onions & Aged Cheddar
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Crust
  • Our usual morning smoothies …
 
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Toss It Tuesday

True confession: There is ALWAYS something hiding in my refrigerator that is gross.  Not “moldy-leftovers-ready-for-bio-class” gross, but “I-bought-this-with-high-hopes-but-never-had-time-to-prep-it” gross.  Or even, “there’s-too-much-of-this-to-ever-use-up-so-now-it’s-rotting” gross.  Are you with me?  Do you have this stuff too?  Good, because I’m officially dubbing the second day of each week “Toss It Tuesday”.  If we clean out the fridge weekly we can avoid nasty “can-I-catch-a-disease-from-this” surprises.  That, and my trash comes on Tuesday, but whatever.  Here is this week’s toss:

SLIMY GREEN BEANS

Image

Why did they go bad?  Good question; they are actually one of my go-to green sides.  We love them roasted with parmesan or steamed, then pan roasted with garlic.  My best guess is we were too busy.  It takes a LONG time to trim each end, wash, and cook.  Obviously more time than I wanted to spend this week.  Every time I looked at that bag of beans,  I looked away.

 As an aside, I’m actually nominating May as the busiest month of the year; even busier than December.  December might technically be more frantic, but you’re celebrating stuff.  In May, you’re just stressed.

But, back to the bucket.  There is more … (clockwise from top):

  • sad, slimy, unappreciated green beans
  • kale stems
  • rose petals
  • baked sweet potato skins

What you can’t see:

  • honeydew rind
  • banana peel
  • eggshells

What I made with all of this … not much:

  • Banana, Mango, Blueberry Smoothie
  • Soft boiled eggs with toast
  • Honeydew chunks for lunchbox & snacking
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes with sauteed kale

So, what is gross in your fridge?

 
 

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