A Garden Dinner

With summer in full swing, the garden has changed mightily in appearance. Some of it is big and vibrant, like our 2 (yes, just 2) rows of corn with patty pan squash planted amongst it, Native American style:

Others are more secretly hidden away, and must be searched for, like these nearly perfect summer squash hidden by their huge leaves in the raised bed:

And still others are just too good not to share. As you know, G isn’t going to be around for another week (she arrived in NY safely and is now staying with her son). I work from home, so I’ve got to keep my production up while not letting the garden shrivel up in the upper 90’s heat we’ve been having with no “real” rain for weeks. I started off Tuesday morning being completely focused. Up just before 6 am, out in the yard, turning on the soaker hoses, and hand watering the pots on the porch. Got everything done, AND managed my own shower before I had to hit the computer at 7 am.

Then I managed a little bit of watering during my 3-hour break, but I am trying to cut back on the caffeine, so I also ended up taking a nap after lunch! Ah, the joys of working at home.

I was very productive and focused all day yesterday and topped my personal best of line-count typing–nearly 1300 lines. Go, me! but then, it was quittin’ time, and I was hungry. Trying to save money and gas, I thought, what the heck is all this food growing for out here if I’m not going to eat it?

Truthfully, it was a post over at Syd’s that got me going. I love that movie and I’ve always wanted to make that dish. Of course, there was no way I could get so ambitious on such short notice, but I realized I DID have ingrediants just growing all around me for a simple form of ratatouille–eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, basil, onions…man what else did I need? Oh, and there were enough fresh green beans for a couple of servings, and I had 2 small red potatoes in the house. Dinner was done!

First, I picked 2 small eggplants that we have growing in pots on the porch. We’ve grown eggplants in pots for the last 3 summers, and have had really good luck with them. They stay small, they’re tender, sweet, and never bitter. Don’t even need to be peeled:

Then, I pulled up one of our green onions that have gotten to be about the size of ping-pong balls, and sooo full of flavor:

Next, I headed to the front yard, and picked two small, but perfect, ripe, yellow tomatoes:

And a sun-ripened banana pepper:

Last, but certainly not least was the fresh basil. I adore fresh basil, and if we can keep this batch going, there’ll be pesto to freeze for the winter, so I can have a little bit of summer when it’s cold outside:

After all the ingredients were gathered, I headed to the kitchen. First, I snapped the beans. Snapping beans always takes me right back to my mother’s table, where I spent hours in my childhood, and on into my adult hood, snapping beans for her and talking about everything under the sun. Then, she cooked them in a pressure cooker with red potatoes. Well, no pressure cooker for me, but I had a small piece of smoked pork that I put in a little bit of water, brought it to a boil, then poured out that water to get all the salt out, and put in fresh water, the snapped beans, and the 2 red taters, halved. A little onion and garlic powder, and a little pepper, popped on the lid and they were set to steaming.

Next I sliced the eggplants lengthwise, and diced them up, cut up the onion with a little bit of the green stem, sliced the pepper, and cut up the yellow tomatoes into quarters. A little olive oil in a nonstick pan along with some pre-chopped garlic, then in went the eggplant, onion, and peppers. Cooking eggplant can be tricky. It’s like a sponge and people want to add more and more oil till it’s just soaked. You don’t need to add more oil, just keep stirring so it doesn’t stick–and maybe add a splash of water if you really need the moisture. Keeping the heat lower helps, too. So, when the above mixture was nicely sauteed and starting to soften, I tossed in the chopped tomatoes and their juice was just the right amount of moisture necessary. After that, the fresh leaves of basil, just torn a bit, added last to keep that perfect, fresh flavor. And, just a few capers. Ok, come on, doesn’t everyone keep capers in the house??

I popped the lid on the skillet, and checked the beans and potatoes–the potatoes were just getting fork-soft, and the beans were ready. The kitchen was starting to smell pretty darn good.

In just a few more minutes, everything was done. I spooned out the fresh beans, still with a slight al dente feel, the potatoes with a little butter, salt, and pepper, then added my ratatouille, and sat down to a feast fit for a queen! No, it wasn’t Timpano, but it was delicious, and the best part was, we had grown about 94% of the entire meal ourselves!

Eating out of the garden, it just does not get any better than that! Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the final product, but I was just too damn hungry!

Happy pickin’



4 thoughts on “A Garden Dinner

  1. Your garden looks fabulous! I so desperately want to garden next year.

    Like you, snapping beans immediately takes me back to childhood. I can’t begin to count the nights we spent at the kitchen table with paper bag afer paper bag filled with green and yellow beans picked in the garden that needed snapping and cutting before they could be frozen for the winter.

  2. congrats on your very fresh dinner. I am so jealousy I would love to have a garden. Just don’t havethe time. Glad G made it safe.

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