Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tasting in the Garden: July 2015

No images specific to the Tasting this time as my camera is becoming crotchety in its old age.  It now seems to think autofocus is for wimps.

And we had a smaller, more intimate group at the July Tasting compared to the June one.  So many of our gardeners have different commitments and responsibilities … and take such interesting trips.  Perhaps we'll have to start adding in posts about Travels from the Garden.

One of our gardeners was sure as many as 90% of the garden was there but this person is a the glass is at least half full sort of individual.  The nice thing about a small group is that you really do get a chance to talk with everyone.  One of our members was recently in New York at a world sustainability vision conference and is still excited about the possibilities.  I love hearing about that experience and the energy that can come about from people working together for the good of the planet and all living beings.

As for food, which of course is always central to our Tastings, we enjoyed some freshly roasted and salted kale.  I must confess that I'm not always a kale fan and the kale chips you can buy in the store I … well, let's just say that I'm happy to leave them in the store.  But these, ah these kale "chips" were crisp yet just melted in your mouth.  I'm very sorry that I don't have a photograph of this plate to show you although no photograph could do the taste justice.  Actually, I'm sorry I don't have photographs of all the dishes.

We also had a secret recipe gazpacho loaded with produce from the garden and highlighting some of the recently harvested garlic from this gardener's row.  Our first tomatoes also put in an appearance in this dish, I believe.

In other garlic offerings, we had a sort of baked fritter with herbs and garlic: chives, thyme, tarragon.  Although a store-bought sweet potato was the basis of the fritter, if it were only a month or two later, that could also easily have come from the garden.

And I brought a chilled soup made with borage leaves and decorated with borage flowers.  That soup featured buttermilk (no, we don't have a cow and no plans to go there… yet) and a cucumber.  No cucumbers in the garden this year due to our surfeit of squash bugs but hopefully we'll be back to them next year.

Our meal was rounded out with homemade peanut and chocolate blondies.  As we savored the sweetness of our dessert, we wondered whether we should try to grow peanuts next year.  And, with our fruit ripening, we were able to enjoy freshly harvested grapes.  The peaches and nectarines are yet to come although the peach beetles are patrolling the trees every day now.  Soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

First Tasting in the Garden of 2015

Some thought it was too early.  The spring vegetables are but a dream now - lettuce, peas, spinach have long since wilted in the intensity of the summer sun and heat.  The summer vegetables, most notably tomatoes, peppers, eggplants are just beginning to set their fruit.  So, what to eat that comes from our rows at this transition point in the gardening year….
Clockwise:  Salsa with garden garlic,
herb muffins, plum compote.

Well, as the photos here demonstrate, we had plenty!  It is true that many dishes were supplemented with store-bought goods (after all, we don't grow wheat and mill our own flour to make pasta… yet) and some of the offerings relied on preserved harvests from 2014, but gardeners from 10 of our 17 gardened rows came through with a wide and creative variety of tasty snacks that we all enjoyed.

The bite-sized herb muffins made use of lavender, thyme, and chives from the garden.  They were delicious on their own but were served with cream cheese (when will we get a cow???) and a bit of plum compote, preserved from our bumper crop of Santa Rosas in 2014.

A medly of beets, dolmas made with
garden grape leaves, another view of
our yummy salsa.
Beets planted earlier in the year are just approaching harvest.  The beet dish included tender young beets from one gardener's row supplemented with large beets - red and golden - from the store.  A head-on photograph shows all the deliciousness of the homemade salsa, the most exciting (and hot) feature of which was some of the first garlic of the year from the garden.  The official harvest date is in July but many of our gardeners (myself included) have harvested the garlic from our own rows already.

This Tasting was the debut for an exciting new use of something that has been in the garden since its founding days in 2009.  Garden grape leaves were used to make dolmas.  I've forgotten all the ingredients in those tasty treats but I believe some of the herbs came from our herb row - perhaps some mint from the garden as well…

Clockwise:  melon lassi, roasted new potatoes, fresh
Santa Rosa plums, young beet pasta, another glimpse
of the dolmas and of the beet medley, nectarine chutney,
and Washington State sweet cherries.
The melon coconut lassi (no we don't have a coconut tree… yet) in the blender container is based on frozen melon (from last year's harvest - a sad reminder that we will not have melon this year due to an abundance of squash bugs … too bad they're too stinky even to consider eating…) with coconut water and coconut milk.  In addition to the recommended spices of cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, this drink was flavored with garden basil.  Mint would probably be good in it as well.

What could be better than roasted new potatoes harvested from the garden that very day?  Why, those very same potatoes roasted with garden sage and rosemary!  And that's exactly what we had.  While the dish was not as colorful as some of the other offerings, the taste was heavenly.

Our Santa Rosa plum crop was a bit sparse this year compared to last year (apparently not an uncommon occurence when the fruit isn't thinned - we'll be working to even out our harvests in coming years) and did ripen all at once.  One of our orchardists picked that wonderful fruit and brought it to the Tasting for everyone to enjoy.

The beet pasta was a beautiful melange of baby beets and beet greens harvested by one of our gardeners.  The photograph above shows it before we all delved into it, destroying the lovely presentation with the gleaming white garnish of feta cheese.

Nearly hidden to the right of the paper towels is a
pitcher of rosemary lemonade.  The lower right corner
shows a spritely and crunchy slaw.
A refreshing lemonade prepared by our youngest gardener (with the help of her mother) featured rosemary from the garden.  No, we don't have a lemon tree although one of our gardeners does at her home.  I am quite jealous.  So, perhaps we need to consider a greenhouse…

And, last to be described, but only because something has to be last, was the celery and fennel slaw.  I will confess that I have forgotten all the ingredients but they were all light green and refreshing.  Lime juice.  When we get the greenhouse…  Fennel fronds and mint from the garden.

A feast to the love we all have of gardening and good company!