We had a great summer dinner tonight and used lots of things from the garden. Before I tell you what we ate, let me update you on the garden. Today I finished wrapping the fencing in chicken wire. That should keep all of our birds out (unless the ducks want to fly in.) I wondered if they would be very upset and I believe the answer is yes: while I was making dinner I went outside to see if there were any ripe tomatoes. I left the garden gate ajar and within one minute they were all pouring into the garden, hiding under the plants, going nuts. It was a challenge getting everyone back out again. Naughty birds!
My tomato plants are really wonderful (thank you Liz & Eleanor!), but the cages just did not support them. I went in and tried to lift what I could without snapping and get them propped onto my pea fencing. I feel badly that they weren’t properly held up from the get go as I discovered a squashed pepper plant with some great looking ripe little red hot peppers on it totally hidden by a collapsed tomato plant. There are so many green tomatoes that I’m really hoping keeping the chickens out and keeping them propped up will yield lots of ripe ones. As of now we’ve just gotten a handful of red and gold cherry tomatoes.
I took what I had of those tomatoes and chopped them and added them to a chopped up cucumber, basil, the kernels from an ear of corn, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. A wonderfully fresh summer salad! And the only thing not from my garden was the corn and oil and vinegar.
I also used up the last of our beets and oh my gosh they were amazing. First of all, just so beautiful. What a great color.
I peeled and chopped them and tossed them with sliced fennel, olive oil, kosher salt, and lots of rosemary, and then roasted them. The beets and rosemary were from the garden.
I am going to try to plant another crop of beets this week and see if I can get another crop in the fall. I’m so pleased that the kids like them, too, that next year I may plant even more.
For dessert I’m going to put on my old fashioned housewife apron and lay a helpful hostess tip on you: if you keep puff pastry in your freezer you will always be able to whip up an elegant dessert with the addition of one or more ingredients. (When I announced that gem at the table my husband and mother told me that I should write a book.) I lay out my defrosted sheet of pasty (in this heat it hardly took any time-I took it out while I was preparing my beets), lavishly sprinkled the edges with coarse sugar, arranged fresh slices of pineapple (dead ripe-so delicious! Sliced about 1/4″ thick), and-because we like them and it reminds me of pineapple upside down cake-put maraschino cherries in the centers. I sprinkled a little brown sugar over the pineapple part. I baked it at the same time as my roasting vegetable, so about a 400 degree oven. Voila! We had it with vanilla ice cream and it was a perfect ending to a summer meal.
This weekend we followed up our awesome Saturday at Duke Farms with even more activities. Sunday included a visit to a county fair, swimming in the river, an early dinner out, and miniature golfing. It was great. I will tell you that the resident whiner didn’t really play golf with us and then cried all the way home because her bad behavior resulted in a no ice cream verdict. But other than that, it really felt like we were on vacation right at our own house.
And capping off our day a beautiful hot air balloon flew over our house.
p.s. Other happy news–the return of our bullfrog! He’s been m.i.a since I uprooted all the hosta and lilies around the pond. We thought he moved on or died and have actually bought some tadpoles. But who should be sitting by the edge of the pond this afternoon, but our handsome fella! I guess he was just off sulking…
p.p.s. I’m a little grossed out by his rubbery looking “fingers”