To those of you who know me personally, you’ve probably heard me talk about my love of weeding. I could honestly weed all day — and I often do on the weekends. But if there’s one thing that gives weeding a serious run for its money, it’s turning food grown in our garden into delicious dishes.
This evening when I got home from work, I hugged my kids, waved at my husband who was busy building the chicken coop (the babies are coming in one month!), and then headed straight for the garden, where it became evident that I had plenty of harvesting to do before dinner. Lee found a massive zucchini that had avoided my eyes and garden shears. I had been wondering why that particular zucchini plant hadn’t set fruit all week — I guess now I know why. In addition to the zucchini, I picked several cucumbers and pruned the basil plants which seem to be multiplying. I left the cilantro for tomorrow morning’s harvest so it will stay fresh longer for my coworkers, who I plan to share it with.
Before I could snap a picture of my harvest (photo-taking is obviously another one of my favorite gardening activities), Mitch had stolen several for a delicious side-dish to go with the ground beef we bought at the Farmer’s Market for burgers (for the record: yum!). Sliced zucchini, sautéed in oil with fresh garlic from Plum Granny Farm, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, and topped off with some Parmesan cheese. It’s a simple side dish (it took five minutes) that packs a big punch of delicious flavor.
After dinner, we got to work in the kitchen on two recipes we’d been wanting to try. The first was a pickling recipe that we’d watched Gordon Ramsey prepare in a video several months ago (he pickled celery, but mentioned you could use the recipe for any vegetable). We had gaped at how good the recipe looked before we had even dreamed of having a garden. Now that we have cucumbers coming out of our ears, we simply had to give it a try. I chopped the cucumbers into slices while Mitch boiled the pickling brine over the stove. I gave it a taste before we filled up the mason jars — amazing. I can’t wait to snack of these when the flavors have melded together.
Next, we got to work on a zucchini bread recipe I’d been eyeing. My mom used to make zucchini bread when I was a kid, but I haven’t had it in years. Time to put that zucchini to good use! Even Lee got in on the action (Josie had already fallen fast asleep). As it baked, the house began to smell better and better with every passing minute. As I write this, I keep watching the clock, waiting anxiously for the moment when it will be cool enough to eat. The recipe made two loaves, so I’m going to be able to share at work, which is another one of my favorite gardening activities. Food, especially homegrown and homemade food, really has a way of bringing a community together.
By the time I sat down for the day to reflect, I was beat and ready for a big glass of water. I used the leftover pieces of cucumbers from the pickling to create a cucumber water, which is one of my favorite flavors of summer. As I reflect on my evening, I have gratitude in my heart. Nature allows for such beautiful things — both the foods it provides and the experiences it cultivates. Cheers!