Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Eat What the Garden Gives

By Marc @ GardenDesk

Many posts here at the Co-Op have been about eating lately, and that has really helped me focus again when it comes to the vegetable garden. Several things have not gone well this season in the garden, and I was getting pretty down about it. The whole "look" of the vegetable garden just doesn't look pretty this year and many of the crops aren't performing up to par compared to a "normal" year.

Reading about eating, cooking and harvesting has reminded me that the real purpose of the vegetable garden is to be more self-sustainable by feeding the family. I have complained much this year about the lack of big and beautiful tomatoes. If you have ever read my personal blog, you know that I am a tomato fanatic. In years past, I not only have enjoyed eating and preserving tomatoes, but I often get sidetracked on growing the largest tomato, growing odd tasting white tomatoes or seeing how many different colors I can produce. A lot of this kind of growing is more for novelty than for feeding the family. This year, groundhogs ate many of my tomato plants and the weather has not been helpful with the surviving plants. It has been so cool and wet that I am just hoping that my tomato plants don't develop blight!

The lack of tomatoes this summer has forced me to look at the garden more as a whole. Even though I have felt that the summer garden has been a disappointment, we have been able to eat many meals from it. We have had a decent supply of potatoes and green beans, small tomatoes and cucumbers. We have had a large supply of onions, bell peppers and zucchini. The weather conditions that have been hurting the tomatoes helped the onions, which I wrote about in my last GardenDesk post.

Since we have two teenage daughters, they are increasingly interested in cooking. It has been fun to be able to go to the garden as a family, harvest some veggies and make a quick meal together. The girls think it is so neat that they often take pictures of our meals before we eat them. Since we mainly have onions and peppers we have had fajitas several times now. Here are a few quick pictures:

Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes from the garden.

Grilling them up and ready to eat.

The other thing that Renee and the girls have had fun with in the kitchen this year is zucchini. They have found many ways to prepare it for the table.

Of course there is Zucchini Bread:

and frying it up with some onions:

One of my favorites is what they call "summer bake", which is like a quiche with zucchini, onion and tomato:

We have many other pictures of different dishes that we have eaten from the garden. I find this a bit funny, but it has helped me to remember why we are raising these vegetables in the first place. Even though the bounty looks different this year from past years, I suppose that we are being simple and frugal by eating what the garden is giving us.

We have also been able to freeze a lot of zucchini and we are currently looking for a dehydrator to help us preserve much of the bounty. I suppose that is material for a future post.

I hope you too have been able to raise and eat some of your own food. There truly is a simple satisfaction in it.

Keep Growing,


daharja said...

That looks so delicious, all fried up. But then, anything looks delicious in a pan!

Thanks for sharing your lovely photos with us!

Daharja (Cluttercut)

coloring in my life said...

keep growing indeed!

Dave said...

Yum! Don't feel bad about the garden not doing as well as you think it should. The wet weather has done a number on mine and blight has set into several of the plants. I'm just trying to get as much out of it as possible. Some years go great others don't!

risa said...

Oh, very good attitude! And it will be needed again.

We have the tallest, greenest corn this year ever! Gorgeous -- but almost no ears. (!!!!!!!!) So when we read of what it's like for farmers to have "crop failure" -- say 160 failed acres on a 160 acre place ... it's easier to count our blessings.

We tend to let the garden tell us what's for dinner. A walk with a basket and a knife usually does the trick.

belle said...

I had a little..kind...chuckle about your disappoint over tomatoes.

I've been feeling disgruntled and despondent about my garden too, not because of the weather, but because just a few months after moving into my own house, with my own yard just waiting to be turned into a big veggie patch, I broke my arm.

Not a lttle break, one requiring surgery and plates on both lower bones...result, no digging, impossible to carry very much, and nothing heavy, if I get down on the ground to dig with a small shovel, I can't get up leverage.

So what did I find in a large pot on my quite shaded front verandah... a happy volunteer tomato plant. The fruit's not very big, just big enough to slice one a sandwich, or dice into pasta, but they have ripened beautifully, they taste wonderful, and I've been able to pick one or two almost every day.

It was a timely reminder for me that the garden will provide, not
always in the way I want, but provide it has done...and lifted my spirits as well.


Joanne said...

What is it with men and tomatoes, lol? My husband and father had tomato growing contests for years (mine's bigger than yours kind of stuff!)
I know what you mean, that you can kind of get sidetracked in the garden. I put potatoes in way too early because I wanted to try a particular way of growing them and was too impatient to wait. Now I'm watching them waste away and kicking myself. Lesson learned.