Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Flavors – a New Venture in Gardening

I have had a garden before, a spot to raise zucchini and a few tomatoes. This year, my garden dreams were bitten by the spring bug when the Midwestern winter was still deep in snow, expanding the list of plants to include black beans, corn and potatoes. Spring came and plants that had been started and were growing on make-shift tables by windows or were still stored in carefully selected seed packets made it into the back of the car in boxes, traveling with the needed tools to the garden. It was time to plant! A few months later, and voila, plants are growing and there are things ready to be harvested!

Armed with Bug Soother and my hat, I wade into the green beans and breathe their smell deeply. The corn stalks bend and make a whispering sound. I have a conversation with the Gray catbird as it is sitting on the water container and watching me with curiosity. The bird sings and I join in, we sing together - celebrating the feel of the sun and praising the Son.

The grocery sacks fill with the harvest of the week. I am so excited to get home to break the beans and put them away for winter. The colors, smells, and textures – not to mention of courses tastes, are a joyful part of the experience. I do my homework, finding out how to know when onions are ready to be dug up, or when popcorn should be harvested. The feel of the warm dirt and being able to eat, share, and stock the freezer with fresh produce is a wonderful summer thing.

I look forward to the time in winter when I can pull out a bag of fresh green beans and put them on the stove to cook. The smells of summer will come back, drifting through the house, bringing summer’s flavors during wintry days. Toss a few seeds in, try a new recipe and pause to enjoy the flavors of summer. 

 Fresh Pico de Gallo
Pull out a good knife, cutting board, and bowl.  Chop up the ingredients on the list below and mix well. 

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seed and dice  *if you have a cut on your fingers, consider wearing gloves or this will make your hands feel like they are on fire!
  • 1 onion (I used a purple onion for its sweet flavor)
  • 4 tomatoes dice
  • 3 garlic cloves finally diced

Mix everything well.  Slice 1 lime in half and juice.  Add to the mix, straining out any pulp.  Put in an airtight container and let it sit over night.  Enjoy chips or with meals, I particularly love it with a summer salad and a dab of Greek yogurt. Will last about a week.