June 20, 2015
It is, I believe, no accident that my birthday falls a few days past the summer solstice. That way, I can feel like the peak of summer vegetable and fruit goodness, which hits in this part of the world between the solstice and the Fourth of July, is all in honor of me.
And even if it’s not, that’s OK. Because the bounty of veggies and fruit that are flooding the farmers markets and roadside stands and you-pick-it places are about the best birthday present I could have.
I went to the Farmers Market this morning planning to buy lightly. I still have squash, both yellow and zucchini, and eggplant from last week I haven’t used, because I was out of town for three days. I didn’t need eggs, because ditto. Still had peaches ripening on the counter, albeit I did work them up immediately after I got home from the market.
And, well, I didn’t. Buy lightly. Although there were many things I could have bought that I did not. I did not buy the aforementioned squash, zucchini or eggplant; I did not buy blueberries, peaches, raspberries or blackberries (because I’m planning a pilgrimage to the you-pick-it place for blackberries tomorrow afternoon). I did not buy green tomatoes, though I thought about it. I did not buy cucumbers because I have a tubful of refrigerator pickles all chillin’.
What I did buy:
- The first sweet corn of the season
- The first Cherokee Purple tomato of the season
- The first okra of the season
- The first green peas I have seen at the market
- The first cabbage of the season
- New potatoes
- Green beans
- Carrots, because, well, carrots
- Radishes, because, well, radishes
- Banana peppers, because, see below
There may have been more, but if there was, it escapes me right now.
Have I mentioned I love this time of year?
So I came home and got busy.
I had a couple of big tomatoes left from last week. They needed to be used to make way for the new batch. I decided I’d make some salsa.
I took the two large tomatoes, cored and chopped them finely, and tossed them with their juice in a bowl. Added about four or five cloves of garlic confit, all nicely diced up. Seeded and diced three sweet banana peppers, added those. Minced up half an onion, fine, and threw that in. Drained and rinsed a can of black beans, and cut the kernels off two ears of raw sweet corn.
Then I headed outside and snipped out of the herb garden some chives, some tarragon, some thyme, some cilantro; minced all that up and tossed it in. Added some salt, freshly ground pepper, smoked paprika, cumin. I’d give you amounts, but I don’t have a clue. Finished it off with a healthy squirt or two of lime juice.
I stirred all that up and let the flavors blend. It is some pretty kickass salsa, if I did make it myownself. I tasted it and nodded a basic approval, then stashed it in the fridge to let the flavors blend overnight before I pass final judgment.
With a healthy portion of grated cheese, that made dinner tonight.
Then I made slaw. The cabbage heads were small, and there were only two — one red and one white. I’d first thought of slaw with the white, and German red cabbage with the red, but when I sliced the white, I saw it was a pretty loose head. Well, heck. why not just use both, and with the carrots, it ought to make a right pretty slaw.
Well, it actually makes a kinda brown slaw, but no matter. It tastes good.
Then I went to the grocery, where I bought olive oil, cottage cheese, bananas, sparkling water, corn chips and milk. I don’t spend much at Kroger in the summer.
Somewhere in between all that, I made shrimp and grits for lunch, for me and one of my adopted children. I’d bought a pound of cooked, deveined shrimp that Sam’s had on sale for $9.99; made cocktail sauce to go with them Friday night, and found the shrimp were watery and tasteless. (Good thing my cocktail sauce is neither.) Child A and I made only a small dent in the mostly tasteless shrimp, so I determined to do something to dress them up.
I peeled the critters, and put them in a bowl atop a paper towel I hoped would draw out some of the moisture. I threw together a sauce of onions and garlic, sauteed; a couple of of tablespoons of tomato paste, added to the skilled the smooshed around; a cup of chicken broth, a few dashes of Tabasco, and a healthy shake of Cajun seasoning. Added salt and pepper. Let it reduce a bit and added the shrimps.
Tasted. Lacked something. Drizzled in a teaspoon or two of honey.
Tomorrow for dinner, I’ll use the rest of the corn, fry some okra, and cook the green peas I shelled today. With some pork loin chops and some cornbread. And sliced tomatoes. I still have blackberry cobbler. If it gets much better than that, I don’t know that I can stand it.
Gawdamighty, I love this time of year.
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em enjoy this bounty of fruits and veggies, y’hear?