Summer bounty. Lord, I love it.

June and July are my favorite months of the year. Because they’re when local fruits and veggies are at their peak.

After July, when we get into the dog days of August, gardens around here tend to burn up, unless they’re in a spot where they have plenty of moisture and partial shade. Stuff just quits. Except for okra and cucumbers and zucchini. That’s when you get monster zucchini and the Attack of the Cucumbers. I don’t think you can get too hot and dry for zucchini and cucumbers. They suck the water from the aquifers, or something, I dunno.

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Ahhhhh, spring. Tomatoes. Other fresh veggies. Bountiful.

And how did it get to be 10 days since I’ve posted?

Well, I was on the road for four of ’em. And poorly with a stomach bug for two or three more. But I have finally gotten the notion back to be in the kitchen, inspired in large part by this haul from the Farmers’ Market this morning.

There will be BLTs, yes, there will. And can I just tell you, I am contemplating getting in the kitchen Right Now and sauteeing up that yellow squash with some onions? And I may yet do that for dinner. Squash and sliced tomato. Who needs anything else? Yes, it’ll be fresh veggie time for a few days.

There were no exceptional road food meals. Pizza one night. A music festival cheeseburger (cold) one night. An eminently forgettable dinner at a meeting in Memphis one night. I think I had pork tenderloin and something.

I’ve cooked a good deal of asparagus the past two or three weeks. Made a very tasty slaw with blanched, cut spears, raw sugar snaps, sliced up, and slivered carrots; dressing was oil, vinegar and sugar. Plain, simple, good. Added some corn kernels to it the next day and that was pretty good, too. I got what may likely be the last asparagus of the season today at the market, and I’m thinking I may reprise that salad, putting corn kernels in from the get-go this time. It lasts, and it’s always good to have around, and it’d just be primo on some of those sliced ripe tomatoes.

Cucumbers are going to get marinated up as cucumber, onion and tomato salad. I may go with an Asian flavor profile for that dressing — rice vinegar, soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, a little mirin, some ginger, maybe a little honey (or maybe not).

Next weekend, I am cooking for a pot-luck picnic with my high school graduating class. I’m thinking a smoked pork loin, using some of those new potatoes for a salad with thyme, olive oil and vinegar dressing, and some cut-up boiled eggs. Some of the strawberries are going in a strawberry cheesecake, which will go in the freezer. Also on that menu may be some jail slaw, as I have a head of cabbage lounging around that wants to be used.

Today, I’ve cooked for the soup kitchen — three 10-pound hams, which were decimated. Three gallons of green beans. Two vats (about two gallons each, I’d guess) of mac and cheese. A big bowl of pasta salad. Always wears me out, but doggone, it’s a good tired. Especially when I look at the 40-plus people who got a good meal, many of whom took a carryout home with them so they’ll have another one tomorrow.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have big plans for the holiday weekend, let me know about ’em. And be careful on the highways.

 

What season is this, again?

October 22, 2017

Market haul from yesterday: Tomatoes, muscadines, cucumbers, and fall strawberries!

If there are strawberries, it must be spring, yes?

No.

Made a whirlwind dash through the Farmers Market (next week is the last one for the season, and I won’t be here, and I did want a final batch of tomatoes), and found…fall strawberries. I have been around gardening and farming most of my life, and I had never heard of such.

The berry people said they’d bought seedling plants in the spring, and held some of the plants in the cooler all summer. The seedlings, thinking it was winter, went dormant.  Once the hot weather passed, they planted them. Seedlings thought, due to our long, warm fall, “Oh! It must be time to do our thing!” So they grew, bloomed, and grew fruit.

Damndest thing I ever saw in my life. Well worth me paying $4 a quart for them (local berries? in late October? you better believe it!), no matter strawberries from Mexico or somewhere were two quarts for $4 at the grocery.

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Busy holiday Saturday

July 1, 2017

The quintessential summer lunch: The BTPC.

Woof. I’m tired.

By 10 a.m., I’d been to the farmers’ market twice, two grocery stores, Sam’s, and run some other errands. Then I came home and got busy.

I put everything away (exhausting in and of itself), put three racks of  baby back ribs in the water bath to sous vide, and made 15 pounds of sauerkraut. Well, it’s not sauer yet, but it’s on its merry way toward fermentation, basking in its brine in its bucket in the dining room. Come mid-August, we’ll have us some sauerkraut.

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Happy Independence Day, y’all!

Whew. Long holiday weekend began about a cocktail and a half ago. And none too soon. I am not suffering fools gladly today.

This is an odds and ends posts, designed to catch up on a few things and ease us into the holiday weekend, which I am welcoming with Moscow Mules and salsa with chips and grated cheese. Don’t judge. It was that or Asian takeout, and I didn’t want to get up and get out to go get the Asian.

Holiday weekend will begin tomorrow, when I bestir myself from bed and set out for the Farmers Market and other assorted errand-running, and come home to do some serious cooking and housecleaning.  On my “get it” list at the market: sweet corn, peaches, more canteloupe, whatever else looks good. Cabbage, if the market still has any, and I’ll make some kraut, being I never got around to the last kraut I was going to make, and chunked the elderly cabbages yesterday. Thank God I at least have a compost bin.

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A peck of pickling

June 27, 2017

Here. Here’s a post I wrote four days ago, but didn’t have the photos edited to go with it. Here it is, with photos. Also, Good Night.

Pretty bread-and-butter pickles in Weck jars!

How it was, was, like this.

I had been out of town for a week. Before I left, I checked the garden. Picked a handful of tomatoes, a couple of banana peppers. Took them with me for a hostess gift.

It got hot while I was gone. Gardens, and things growing in them, like hot.

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Hello?

May 14, 2017

Market haul. Lots of good stuff this early in the season!

Yes, I am still alive. I’ve just been…busy.

Between Friday, May 5, and this past Friday, May 12, I was home for exactly 12 hours, during which I neither cooked nor ate. Between those dates, I went to a conference, at which I contracted a stomach bug; I went shopping at an outlet mall, saw a bear (not at the outlet mall), and lost only $45 at a casino. Then I came home (after approximately 1,000 miles), slept, unpacked, repacked, and went to Little Rock for the announcement of an 800-job, $410-million project on which I’ve been working for a year and a half. Then I came back on Friday, after spending two days at the factory site with the architect.

Then I slept. A lot.

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