Gifts from the Toy Garden

Today's toy garden harvest

I love cooking when I’m in the mood!

When it’s time to cook dinner, I’ll have the meat defrosted.  But I’m never sure how I’m going to prepare it. I take a look in the refrigerator to see what I have to work with, then I just start playing, and dinner evolves from there.

Tonight I had 3 boneless beef ribs thawed.  I put them in a pan and browned them well.  Then I added garlic, onion, ginger root from the freezer, celery and a handful of baby

Garden gifts chunky soup

carrots.  While that simmered, I sniffed my way through my spice drawers.  Ah, that would add a nice high note.  That one would add depth and complexity. 

Then I added diced potatoes, and the pole beans and two tomatoes from the garden.  The ho-hum one pot meal morphed into a down home delight.

Next it was time to cook the eggplant.  I LOVE fried eggplant.  Even though I enjoy eggplant parmesan and baba ganosh, I always default to dipping the

My favorite! Fried eggplant!

eggplant slices in egg, seasoning them, then dredging them in a mixture of flour and cornstarch, and FRYING them!

I love it so much that I deliberately only planted one plant this year to keep me from over-indulging.  That one plant provides 3 or 4 eggplant a week, which is more than we need.

We got a very light, gentle rain most of the day.  Much less than was expected or predicted from Tropical Storm Lee.  Tomorrow we should get more.  But it doesn’t look like we are going to get anything near the 5 – 9 inches that was predicted for this area yesterday.

That’s okay.  If we get a couple of inches, I’ll be thrilled!

From Garden to Kitchen

Today's harvest

The toy garden continues to delight me.

I have thought that maybe it’s providential that the camper is out of commission for a while.  If it were up and running, I wouldn’t have planted my late little vegetable beds and would have missed out on the primal sense of accomplishment that growing one’s own food provides.

Today I weeded and tied up sagging tomato branches.  I also encountered one of the heartbreaking displays of nature’s balancing act.

Tomato hornworm with parasitic wasp cocoons

I noticed that one of my tomato branches showed telltale signs of the presence of a tomato hornworm.  Then I found the worm — covered with the cocoons of a parasitic wasp which effectively turns the caterpillar into an eating machine on their behalf until they devour their host.

But back in the kitchen, all I felt was the joy of cooking good fresh food.  I had originally planned to do a traditional meat and veggie dinner, but as I looked at all of the fresh garden goodies, I changed my mind.

Vegetarian feast fresh from the garden

My neighbor had given me several ears of corn from her garden.  So I steamed it, scraped the kernals off the cobs, and made real creamed corn — with butter, cream, and lots of pepper.

I had several yard long beans in the refrigerator, so I combined them with the ones I picked today, steamed them for 3 minutes, then battered and deep fried them for a special treat.  (This turned out to be a very high fat dinner!)

I wanted to make eggplant parmesan, but didn’t have the right cheeses, so I dipped slices in egg, then in a bread crumb-parmesan mixture with oregano, celery seed and thyme, fried them, covered them with buttered bread crumbs, then topped it with freshly grated parmesan–and served it topped with fresh diced tomato.

Goodness to come

Last of all, I sliced little pickling cucumbers from the garden and added a dash of ranch dressing.  We love pickling cucumbers because they are so much crisper than salad cucumbers, and they are just the right size.

Life is wonderful–even though we are temporarily without a camper.

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