Summer in the Garden

This summer has definitely been one for the books. Just as quickly as it came, it went, and now we’re easing into autumn. It’s raining now, the sky is overcast, but this summer has left me happy. After last year’s virtually non-existent summer, I savored every moment of sun this year, never knowing how long it would last. When I think back, I have memories of swimming in the river over lunch break, in lakes on the weekends, hours and hours spent in the vegetable garden, hikes in the mountains, canning in the summer heat and eating.

“Where all these mystical fruits and vegetables abundantly grow…” my sister wrote in an email, attaching a few pictures of vegetables we had picked for our dinner. Due to the warm weather, watering during the hottest weeks, and rain just as it was needed, we have been able to feed ourselves this summer. I haven’t bought any vegetables since early June. But no pain, no gain. We have spent hours at the vegetable patch weeding, watering, tying beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and what ever else needed tying up, harvesting, pruning and sweating. Some weekends my fingernails were permanently encrusted with soil eventhough I wore gloves.

At the beginning of summer, I had visions of blogging frequently, sharing recipes filled with delicious things I had made using fruit and vegetables from the garden. But this Summer had other plans. We spent so much time trying to stay on top of of the weeds and watering when it was hot that although I spent time making meals, I never found a spare moment of time to actually photograph a dish.

This year we were also able to grow melons. That’s how hot it was. We have plenty of tomatoes, broccoli, beans, root vegetables, berries,… the list is endless.

Apart from the almost daily bowl of tomatoes, both as a simple salad and dressed up with mozzarella, I made old favorites and tried new recipes. There were also bowls and bowls of ice-cream and lots of fruit crumbles.

Here are a few links to recipes I tried and loved:

  • Cauliflower Salad: I made this at least three times this summer, adding roasted pumpkin seed instead of the walnuts and chia seeds. Guaranteed to make your tastebuds tingle!
  • Miso Slaw: Couldn’t stop eating this.
  • With lots and lots of cucumbers in the garden, I’ve been canning them to two different bread and butter pickles. There is Diana Henry’s recipe and this one.
  • Zucchini Cake: this one may be my favorite recipe to date.

Trying new things with all the zucchini we’ve been harvesting has been the most challenging. We have one plant, but it produces zucchini faster than we can eat them. So there is zucchini sautéed with pimenton or chipotle and served with pasta, or on pizza with corn and feta or grilled and served with a sauce of some sort. One of my favorite’s and easiest is zucchini rolls.

When buying plants I usually go for the heirloom varieties, not only because I like to preserve old plants, but also because they often come in surprising colors. I have purple peas, pink potatoes, orange and purple carrots, white and striped eggplant, and too many different kinds of tomatoes. The list goes on. But I always pick the yellow zucchini because it’s practical. If I had a plant that bore green fruit, I’d never see them until they were as big as baseball bats and just about as tasty. The yellow one allows me to cut them when they are still small and succulent.

This recipes is more of a list of ingredients as you can make and many as you like. They are perfect for a dinner party or with a green salad and a piece of crusty bread.

Zucchini Rolls

  • zucchini, sliced lengthwise into no more than 0.5 cm wide strips (too thin and the strip will fall apart, too thick and you can’t roll it)
  • sundried tomato halves
  • feta, crumbled
  • basil
  • olive oil

Brush both sides of the zucchini with olive oil and either grill or sautée the strips until soft. Cool to room temperature. Place a sundried tomato at the top of a zucchini strip, put of bit of crumbled feta on the tomato and top with a basil leaf. Then roll up the zucchini, starting at the top where the filling is.

If the zucchini isn’t soft enough or is too thick, it will probably unroll itself. Then simply roll it up and secure with a toothpick.

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