Sumer is icumen in

On Saturday morning He Who Wears Plaid Shirts took my favorite Chicago knife to the garden and came back with Chinese cabbage, regular cabbage, broccoli and the snowiest cauliflower heads I’ve ever seen. We’d already bought 2 gallons of strawberries and a pound of snow peas at Howard’s berry patch so after I tried another batch of pectin-free jam, we gobbled up a lunchtime stir-fry with the Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peas, a bit of leftover asparagus from the garden, one of our red onions and lots of garlic.

Beginning with those vegetables requiring the longest cooking time — the cauliflower florets and carrot slices — I cooked them in a mix of sesame and canola oils, adding some powdered ginger (too lazy to look for the fresh ginger in the freezer), soy and oyster sauces and a little salt and pepper (nothing like the shovelsful of salt my Chinese cooking teacher always added!).   I rinsed and drained a can of shoepeg corn and threw that in as well to make a complete protein with the rice cooked in the steamer by Plaid Shirt Guy.

Monday morning food quarterbacking: I can’t decide if this or our Sunday night beet salad was my favorite food of the weekend.

Leaving about 2 inches of tops on each to prevent all the beautiful beet color from bleeding into the cooking liquid, I steamed them  in gently boiling water for 30 minutes.  On young cooked beets you can slip off the tops and skins with just your thumbs.

The salad — our Sunday supper with delicious no-knead oat bread made by P.S.G. and a fruit compote of local berries together with one very ripe mango (not local, alas) — could not have been simpler or better.

Slice beets on a bed of romaine, top each salad with 1/4 cup toasted walnuts and 1/4 cup blue cheese plus 1-2 tablespoons Ken’s Steakhouse light balsamic vinaigrette.

92 and muggy today, 96 tomorrow. While I despise the Carolina Piedmont summer weather and have groused about it for 33 years, I love the eating. You open the fridge, look at all the garden-fresh fruits and vegetables inside and simply choose how you’ll embellish them today.

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