Friday, August 14, 2009

The Vines! The Vines! (or cucurbits are coming!)

It seems like this summer's theme is one of vines taking over the yard. I read somewhere that it will be a banner year for poison ivy due to global warming giving it the delightful opportunity for a longer growing season here in the Piedmont region. Perhaps this is why grapevines, virginia creeper and mile a minute vines are taking over my yard. Or could it have been the weeks of rain earlier in the season? Volunteer cucurbits of unknown origin are everywhere(is it a gooseneck gourd taking over my native hydrangea?Or could it be a fairytale pumpkin? I just have to leave the giant vines that spread by the minute, until I see what the crop might be)Even the vines that I have actually planted seem to be out of control. I practically have to use a machete to get into the garden. When my first planting of several types did not come up, I tried again with the result that we have 3 varieties of cucumber, four varieties of squash, including pattypan, acorn, ronde de nice (my go to squash every year) and an unusual one which I got from Native Seeds Search when I visited in Tucson this winter.(and where I evidently found the worlds hottest pepper which was just labeled capsicum). I like to cook the patty pan by sauteeing a sliced onion, adding the squash sliced in thin wedges and cooking till it carmelizes. Then I pour a little water in the skillet and put on the lid. When the squash looks done, I top it with parmesan cheese, put the lid back on till the cheese melts add sea salt and pepper and serve!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cooking from the garden

Cooking has always been a favorite activity but this year there's been a new challenge.
Due to digestive issues, for the last 6 months I have only able been able to eat mostly cooked fruits and vegetables that are low in fiber (carrots, green beans, beets) and proteins without tough connective tissue-this translates to fish and chicken (and more chicken!) and any other poultry that isn't too fatty. So I have really had to use my imagination to come up with recipes that work for my diet (sort of low residue, low fiber). It is otherwise known to my family as the "white diet" as many things I can eat are white as opposed to the formerly "brown" diet of whole grains and fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. My garden consists of whatever I can cram into it during each season and whatever isn't eaten by the local varmits. This season I tried to grow more of what I could eat, plus being optimistic that I'd be able to consume the other things by the time they ripened.When the pole beans (Blue Lake) were about 5 ft tall on their tutuer, whatever it is that chomps things off at the soil level ate them all. Woodchuck? Bunnies? So no beans this year. (Last year it was japanese beetles) Then I thought I bought two flats of beets in Amishland. These turned out to be a Lot of swiss chard which my husband and a few friends are enjoying. My hunt for interesting recipes that work has been far reaching as the same old thing can get boring pretty fast. Last week I hit a treasure trove of 70's and beyond cookbooks at the AAUW book sale- most were under a dollar. An excellent source for poultry and vegetable dishes has been a"A Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden. Years ago we heard her at the Book and the Cook . So far I have made: (with adjustments)
Kofta Meshwaya (grilled ground meat on skewers)
1 Lb ground lamb, beef or chicken
1 onion finely grated
1 tsp Ras El Hanout (or similar middle eastern seasoning)
1 Tbs Chopped fresh herbs including marjoram oregano and rosemary
1 egg
salt and pepper
Preheat grill.
Mix finely ground meat with onions herbs and seasonings and knead vigorously till smooth and pasty. (The recipe says shape small lumps around flat skewers. this sort of worked) I sprayed a piece of foil with non stick spray and put the skewers on this, turning them carefully with a spatula after 5 minutes or so)
When they were browned I served them with squash , yogurt, and rice pilaf. Tasty!