Wednesday, July 25, 2007

OLS5: a summer feast

I was amazed to realize that it's the 5th week already. I feel as if I've had my head down in the garden, trying to get the last of those pesky weeds that are light green and viciously twining, and when I looked up, summer was half gone. At least One Local Summer is half gone, for I believe our term of officially local eating is ten weeks.
But let's say the summer is half full, shall we? The garden supports me on this: we have radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, some cayenne peppers, a plentitude of beans, a fair crop of basil and other herbs. And D's father's garden is spilling over with cucumbers, carrots, and the promise of peppers and pears.
Yesterday's dinner brought together our 2 gardens, and with the help of the farmers market, we feasted.
Summer Feast
Chicken stew (chicken, mushrooms, and onions from the market, chicken broth from our last market chicken to make a little gravy, and various garden herbs, plus a small Early Girl for color)
Noodles (bought at the Bergman Farm Market in Marblehead, abt 60 miles away, on a June trip to the beach)
Green beans (ours) and carrots (D's father), steamed with dill flower heads.
It was very good, although the picture is a little murky. Chicken stew is a very brown dish, isn't it? I should have put the beans in the foreground, I guess.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

OLS4: the reinvention of bean salad

What to have for dinner when you've been working on the house and yard all day long? when one of you has been scraping the east wall of the house and trying to get the gutter to work better? and the other has been weeding and watering and tying up the branches cut from the black walnut tree?
The Eat-Local Dinner for Exhausted Diners (neither of whom wants to be chef)
Local raw-milk cheddar and goats cheese from the farmers market
Sourdough bread from local bakery (the Stone Oven) slathered with butter from Hartzler's Dairy
A bean salad, all ingredients except dressing from the garden
I never liked bean salad when it showed up on the table, often at family reunions (since my mother didn't make it), or on cafeteria lines. The one I was used to was known as 3-Bean Salad, was made with canned beans, sometimes with a sort of sweet and sour dressing. I avoided it whenever possible.
This bean salad is very different, made with green beans (actually green and purple), and a dressing that's a simple vinaigrette.

One-Bean Salad
A double handful of beans--green or purple (the purple ones go green when cooked, sadly)
2 tomatoes--I used one Early Girl and one Lemon Boy
About a 1/2 cup of mixed fresh herbs: I used basil and dill
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp honey (from the farmers market)
2 pinches salt, or to taste
Simmer the beans until just done. Slice the tomatoes, mix with beans and chopped herbs. Mix the last 4 ingredients well and pour over vegetables. We ate this barely warm for dinner, and it was amazing. But the refrigerated leftovers weren't bad the next day, either.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

seasonal lunch

My 1st husband's parents lived next door to us. His stepfather planted tomatoes and cucumbers every year--the 1st person I knew who planted vegetables. He didn't have what I thought of as a garden--his plants were in a row along the back of the house, like the dahlias or rosebushes in other yards, a strip along the edge of the lawn. Every summer, he grew them, and every summer when they started to produce, he'd make himself a bowl of tomatoes and cucumbers, which he called Cuke Salad, for lunch, every day, as long as they lasted.
I never thought to ask him about this--I just thought of it as one of his peculiarities. We never had a conversation about this, or about much of anything--he was friendly, but not communicative. So I don't know why he was so intent on these plants. I wonder now if they were a part of his past that he was preserving--maybe, like a lot of people his age he had a farm in his background. Maybe he'd grown tomatoes or cucumbers when he was young, or his parents did. Maybe that salad was a remnant of some greater summer harvest that disappeared when he went to work in a factory.
I don't know any of those things, but I do know now why he took such pleasure in it--there is nothing so wonderful as going out in your yard and picking some lunch, which once you are in the kitchen flies together in a simple, satisfying dish that tastes of summer, or of the past.
Cuke Salad
1 or 2 cucumbers, seeded and peeled
1 large tomato chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs cider vinegar
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving. It tastes better if it sits for an hour, even better the next day. I sometimes jazz it up with whatever herb I've picked in the garden--it's good with basil or dill or chives, probably some others, too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

seasonal breakfast

This is one of the best breakfasts I've ever had: canteloupe, cut up and sprinkled with a pinch of salt; a dollop of Greek yogurt; a handful of mint from the garden, chopped; a couple of squeezes of honey.
I love summer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


A quickie post on our local meal this week: an omelet made from eggs bought from an Amish farmer at the market, market onions and raw milk cheddar, plus garden chives; and a potato salad, made from market and garden ingredients entirely (potato, cucumber, radishes, 1 cherry tomato, mustard flowers, tarragon, purple basil), except for the olive oil and cider vinegar dressing. Only the salad is pictured because the omelet fell apart and had to be removed from the pan in pieces--it was very good though.

And here's a picture of the tomato we ate for lunch, dividing it fairly between the 2 of us and eating it in solitary splendor, with only a sprinkling of kosher salt: the first of the Early Girls.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

OLS: week 2

I went to the farmers market today and brought home a whole chicken, onions, green beans, 2 hydroponic tomatoes, blueberries, corn, and 2 chocolate chip cookies. I did wonder about the corn--surely too early? But the farmers market has a policy that no one can sell anything they haven't grown or raised or made. Just where was it from? I should have asked, but I guess I decided to believe that it was from southern Ohio, because I knew how happy D would be to have corn for dinner.
Dinner was part of the chicken, braised with one of the onions and some oregano and thyme from the garden, plus one of the tomatoes and the corn. All in all, really good. I am still wondering about the corn. Could it have been local? can corn be grown in a greenhouse? It was a little undersized.
Check out the regional roundups at One Local Summer.