Monday, March 28, 2011

CHAPTER 11: Vegetable Sides and a Story of Eating from the Garden

In August, 2009, my brother, George, and sister, Barbara,
spent a week together in Athens, Ohio. After our mother died in July 2008, Barb suggested that we three sibs have a reunion every year. Last fall we gathered in Chicago. And now here we were in southern Ohio on George’s land. He bought this property in the early 1970s and has, over the years, refurbished a dilapidated old farm house and a converted chicken coop/shed. He and his wife Louise (who was away traveling in Malaysia with her sister) raised their three kids in the ever-expanding coop/shed which is now a four bedroom house. George and Louise have created a lush garden adjacent to the deck on the back of the house. Windows on two sides of the house overlook this verdant and thriving vegetable and fruit producing site. It was glorious.

The first night my brother fed us Chicken Enchiladas. He explained that the chicken came from a farm down the road and the tomatoes that went into the sauce were in the garden that morning, along with our side dish of green beans. He had picked raspberries for dessert. My sister and I, weary from our travels, could not have been more satisfied.

The next morning, he gave us a tour of the garden and the rest of his land. By lunch time, I could no longer contain myself. I had to pick some veggies. I roasted some golden cherry tomatoes and pulled some beets. I got them roasting below the tomatoes and cooked the well-washed and shredded beet greens until they were soft. The tomatoes and beet greens were lunch, along with some cheese and crackers, perfectly delicious, but just a hint of what was to come.

For dinner, I made a Summer Squash Casserole (adding some shredded salami) from my brother’s Joy of Cooking. My 1997 edition calls it Summer Squash Gratin, a little more highfalutin’ a name I suppose. Same dish. Then a Beet Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing, also from his Joy of Cooking, and more roasted cherry tomatoes. My sister baked a splendid Rhubarb Cake for dessert. All the produce for the dinner came from the garden. Amazing.

By the next morning, I had come up with a possible menu for that evening. We made Lentil Salad with Curry Spices and Yogurt from Field of Greens, Herbed Carrot Salad and Moroccan Two Reds Salad, both from Flatbreads and Flavors. And finally we had more raspberries with whipped cream from the Creamery we had visited in the afternoon. Totally delicious and brilliantly colorful. Everything except the yogurt and the lentils from the garden. Just look at the colors. Aren't they spectacular?

I was sorry that I didn’t have a chance to use the chard, new potatoes, more tomatoes, and the still baby eggplants. We were certainly holding onto Michael Pollan’s wise counsel from his In Defense of Food “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Indeed and so good.

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