The vegetables are starting to produce in the garden. I just came in from picking our first ‘big’ harvest. As the saying goes, ‘You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit’.
We have one beautiful zucchini with more coming, two banana peppers, and four green beans. The one that I really find amusing is the four green beans. Four green beans are hardly enough for one person let alone a family of four At least everyone will get one tonight. HA! HA! I am laughing as I write this. Paired with the zucchini it will be fine, really.
The tomatoe plants look amazing and are taller than me. The starts of little green tomatoes can just be seen. Soon we will be up to our eyeballs in tomatoes. The peanut plants are growing, a good sign I’m sure. Although, since they grow under ground, I have no way to know. We also have lettuce coming in slowly. Hopefully the tomatoes and lettuce will coordinate their arrival so I can toss a salad.
It is summer and the vegetables are thriving in the garden. Vines thick with green beans, heads of crisp lettuce, carrots popping through the soil, and tomatoes of all sizes can be found in our modest backyard garden. Now the fun begins.
I’m finding it quite enjoyable not having to add vegetables to my cart at the grocery store this summer. Oh, a few make it in, but for the most part, I am trying to shop in my own garden for the vegetables I need this summer. Not only are they fresher, but they are cutting down the shopping bill a bit as well. Not to mention the fact at how enjoyable it is to pick the vegetables right before they are prepared in the kitchen.
My routine, as of late, has been to snatch a bowl from the kitchen, kick off my slippers, slip into my garden clogs, and grab my floppy hat as I head out back to my own little store. Along the way taking in the fresh air and greeting the birds at the feeders. Once there, I fill my bowl from the lovely produce isles envisioning what I will turn them into tonight.
The key to cooking from garden produce is variety. I think one can easily get sick of having green beans the same way throughout the summer. Preparing them slightly differently can reduce the boredom. No home cook wants to hear, “Are we having tomatoes again!”. It is really about presentation and creativity. Last night, for instance, I turned the ever abundance of tomatoes into a fresh tomatoe tart in a rustic crust. Along with that a side salad with a homemade dressing. Fresh yet inviting. Did you know that zucchini can actually taste like apples when baked as a cobbler? Delicious and with less carbs to boot. Zucchini also makes a wonderfully moist chocolate cake. A sneaky way to add vegetables to your diet. Clever!
Tonight I will head out and pull up enough carrots to fill my French-style chicken pot pie. No worries about finding a parking spot or finding the shortest checkout line. I do not even need to bring my wallet, just a bowl.
It is summer and the garden is producing all sorts of goodies. We have vine green beans growing taller than me right now. Time to harvest and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
I like to pick my green beans before they get too large. In my experience, the larger the bean, the tougher the bean tends to become. Very large green beans are not tasty, so be sure to keep an eye on them and pick them when ready. Green beans should snap and sound crisp. If not, they are probably too large.
Once the beans are picked, I wash them in water and lay them on a towel to dry. Then I snap off the ends, leaving one long bean. They can also be snapped shorter if preferred. Now they are ready to be prepared.
Green beans are a very versatile vegetable. They go with almost any entree and are simple to prepare. There are a few different methods of preparing green beans. Baking, roasting, blanching and shocking, boiling, and steaming and sauteing are some options to consider.
Roasting green beans can be done by mixing green beans with a drizzle of canola (or other) oil, and seasoning of choice, and spreading them onto a baking sheet. Pop the sheet into a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Green beans can also cook alongside a roast of meat in the oven.
Blanching and shocking green beans is done by placing green beans into a pot of boiling, salted water until just tender (about two minutes). Then the beans are drained and put into a bowl of cold, ice water for two minutes. The ice water stops the beans from cooking and helps them maintain their lovely green hue. Now the beans can be used in a cold salad or can be sauteed in a pan with oil, butter, and garlic for a nice crisp bean.
To steam beans, place them in a skillet partially covered in water, cover with lid and boil for 4-5 minutes. Then drain and saute the beans with butter and oil until tender. This will take another couple of minutes. Season and serve.
Boiling green beans is another option. Place beans in a pot, partially cover with water, place lid on pot. Bring the water to boil then turn the burner to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Season and serve.
Seasonings that work well with green beans are salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, grated lemon peel, sesame seeds, pesto, basil, onion, bacon, etc… Have fun experimenting with flavors that appeal to the palate and work well with the dish it will accompany.