16 August 2009

Eating from the summer garden

One of my earliest memories is following along with my grandfather, helping him plant tomatoes. My grandfather always had a huge garden. Not only did he feed his family, but numerous others besides. When the vegetables and fruits were coming in, my grandmother was always canning and freezing, as well as cooking the vegetables fresh. There were so many from which to choose as the season went by: onions, corn, tomatoes, squash, peas, okra, beans, plums, strawberries, cushaw, turnips, beets, collards, cabbage, beet greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, figs, watermelons, assorted peppers and whatever else may have taken his fancy that year. As I often spent summers with my grandparents, I helped with all this.

I learned canning, pickling and freezing from grandmother and later in college took classes in food preservation, where I also learned about dehydrating. This year I have missed being able to "put food by", as the old saying goes. The only food I have put by is some pesto I got in the freezer just before we came to Nashville. I will be grateful for small favours.

Along with putting food up for the winter, the greatest pleasure of the summer garden is eating freshly picked fruit and veggies. The other day while exploring, Sally and I found a farmstand selling locally grown organic produce. They had squash, tomatoes, onions, green tomatoes, purple hull peas, assorted pickles, watermelons and other things I can't recall at the moment. Dinner last night and lunch today were meals out of my past, but from the farmstand.

Dinner Saturday:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Lunch Sunday:
Peas, topped with fresh chopped tomato and onion

Sally had baked the cornbread, so Mike sliced and toasted that for us. He fried the green tomatoes himself (with only a little direction), and did the chopping of the onions and tomatoes. Peas he only needed to reheat. The watermelon was ice cold and cutting was all that was required to get it ready. I love summer vegetable and fruit meals. Especially when they taste like the meals with which I grew up. I could live on food just from the garden.

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MileHighBaker said...

I am intrigued by 'cushaw' as it is entirely new to me. Off to perform acts of Google-Fu and see if I can learn more. I love that you always prompt me to think more or I learn some new tidbit in your writings. Thanks for adding to my little world in that way!-

Lizzy said...

Off to google, too! So glad your counts are allowing you to enjoy summer's bounty.

Becky said...

Ah, I forget sometimes that not everyone grew up with the same foods I did. Cushaw is a winter squash. It's large -like pumpkins, but with a neck - and it's green and white striped. They are typically hard, so be careful cutting them. I googled and found out that many people make them into pies instead of using pumpkin. We never did that. My grandmother would peel them, remove the seeds, and cut the flesh into about 1" or 1/2" cubes. She'd put the cubes in a large baking pan, sprinkle on sugar (a good bit), salt (just a tad) and chip butter over the top. Then she'd cover it and bake it till the squash was pretty much translucent and somewhat candied. Sometimes the cubes will keep their shape and sometimes they cook down.

I know there are measurements for all this written down, because I made sure I did that one day when she was cooking. When I make cushaw I do not add as much sugar and butter as she did. It's still delish! Cushaw goes great with peas and cornbread. They won't be ready for awhile yet. I wonder if the farmer's market here in Nashville will have them.

I've got a great photo of a cushaw sitting on the hall tree in my foyer. I will look on my other hard drive and see if I can find it to post.

Creamsicle said...

Becky, I have always admired you for still preparing the foods you grew up on. It's a great way of remembering and honoring your relatives and chilhood; and they do provide great comfort. Today I decided to copy your recipes for crunchy pea salad, coined potatoes and Kentucky potatoes. They all sound so good and easy. I agree that there's nothing like a summer platter of food on those tropical days. I am so glad that on most days you can enjoy food.

spunky fiesta said...

Enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing. Glad to read you are doing so well. My husband had a transplant also but it was his own. He is doing well.