Garden Bounty

I love cooking in the late summer!

Every meal starts with a quick trip to the garden to see what’s ripe – and then my creative juices get started!

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Maybe we should start with spaghetti squash – tossed in butter and garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Or some fresh green beans steamed till just tender with a pat of butter melting on the top.

Or maybe a salad with some beautiful red ripe tomatoes and fresh basil and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

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There’s even been a ripe watermelon or two – and one teeny tiny cantaloupe that ended up being one of the sweetest and best we’ve had all summer! Too bad there was only one.

Of course there will be poppers with our favorite Tam jalapenos.  And fresh sweet peppers to dip in homemade ranch dressing.

But everybody’s favorite is the king of the garden –

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Sweet corn.

Picked and cooked and on a plate steaming hot within an hour.

DSC_0399Then slathered with melted butter and salt and enjoyed.

In abundance.

An all you can eat corn buffet.

It’s late summer in Iowa.

And we’re eating good!

Fresh Picked

I love this season of the year – when my meals are planned around what I pick fresh from the garden.

Corn on the cob – all you can eat. Green beans – lightly steamed and dripping with butter. Summer squash in every form imaginable. And what about the tomatoes!

TomatosIs there anything as wonderful as a fresh, vine-ripened tomato?

Unless it’s something made from that fresh, vine-ripened tomato! Something like BLT’s, fresh salsa, bruschetta, or our favorite – pasta with fresh tomatoes.


Just peel 8 medium tomatoes. Chop, seed and drain.

Combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 of a green pepper (chopped) and 16 black olives, sliced.

Add tomatoes and set aside at room temperature.

Cook 8 ounces of pasta according to directions. Drain and place in serving bowl. Add tomato mixture and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Yum!

We’re still in the honeymoon stage with tomatoes- enjoying all we can eat fresh – but don’t have quite enough yet to can.

WatermelonThen there’s my pride and joy – my watermelons – both of them.

The melons didn’t like the heat and drought of July. But thanks to the boys faithful watering, we saved one watermelon plant with 2 watermelons on it.

I was a little scared to pick the big one – but my friend Martha just gave it a thunk and proclaimed it done.

She was right – it was perfect!

I may just have to call her to come and thunk the next one in a few weeks. 🙂

So what’s on tonight’s menu?

All you can eat fresh corn on the cob (Pedro holds the record with 6 ears at one meal) and chicken wraps (with roasted yellow squash, green peppers, onions and garlic for the more adventurous eaters!)

Lip-smacking goodness!

Victory!

Happiness is beating the coons to the sweet corn!

CornWith the help of the electric fence AND 2 radios playing full blast all night – we managed to harvest the sweet corn before the coons!

This victory is even more sweet when you remember our battles with the coon earlier this spring. We ended that fight with the coon ahead by one baby chick.

The only thing coons like more than baby chicks is fresh, ripe, corn on the cob.

Let’s just say this evens the score.

Coon – 1, Us – 1.

Take that you pesky varmints.

Sweet Corn!

Sweet corn – fresh from the garden!

This is one of my favorite days of the summer. We’ve been watching the patch carefully for weeks – and today was the day!

The kids and I picked 2 buckets of corn just before supper.

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Then we had a feast.

It was a corn eating frenzy with butter dripping down our chins and elbows.

There was no limit on how many ears we could eat and the pile of empty cobs in the middle of the table kept growing.

When we had all eaten our fill…

Knife…we started the messy task of cutting the corn from the cobs and filing bags for the freezer.

It brought back some fun memories of cutting corn with my siblings when I was little. The jokes and laughter would fly as fast as the corn kernels!

The bags of corn are now in the freezer, the kitchen is cleaned and the corn juice is wiped off the floors and walls.

I just hope that long after the corn is eaten, my kids will smile at the memory we made tonight!

My Almost Harvest

I can’t believe it’s mid-August and I’m writing a blog post about my “almost” harvest. The really wet spring set us back  a lot.

Beans

My twelve green bean plants (the only ones that came up out of 3 rows – after replanting 3 times) finally have blossoms and are almost ready to produce some beans. (I’m salivating as I write this – I love fresh green beans!)

Melons

The first of the cantaloupes are so close to being ripe! But still – it’s an almost harvest. We do have watermelon that will be picked this week – there are only 2 on the entire plant – but I’m thankful for them both!

(Note the piece of cardboard sticking out under the mulch? That really did the trick to keep the grass down!  We need a another layer of grass on the whole thing – but overall – I am so pleased with how it worked!)

Corn

The sweet corn is coming – even though the stalks looked stunted and pitiful. It sure is hard to wait for that fresh corn on the cob – but we’re almost there.

I am really proud of the fact that that I still have recognizable corn and bean rows! The kids have done a fairly good job keeping up with the grass and weeds. By this time most years, we have to walk through some pretty tall weeds to find the sweet corn. (Not that it’s weed free – but at least the corn is taller and you can see the dirt between the rows! 🙂 )

Pepper

Finally! Something I can harvest! The hot peppers are loving this tropical weather and have really started putting on. The little ones make the best poppers in the world – pretty mild with just a little kick. The longer ones pack a little heat. Yum!

I wish I remembered what their names are – but since I replaced so many with whatever hot peppers I could find – I have no idea what’s out there right now. I’m just glad to have something to pick!

We also saw one Roma tomato that is almost ripe and 2 sweet peppers that are gaining in size.

It’s coming!  If I can just be patient a little longer, there will be fresh produce gracing my table and filling the jars on my shelf!

Please let it be soon!

For more garden inspiration, head on over to The Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.