Saturday, July 24, 2010

How hot is it?

Hot enough to sun dry fruit leather in your car. That's how hot.I've been doing figs this week. Puree together a bowl of figs, add between one teaspoon to one tablespoon sugar and a squeeze of lemon. Pour on to sheet cake pan lined with plastic wrap and put on the dash of your car parked in full sun. Two days later you will have yummy, sun-dried fruit leather. It helps to open the car door a few times during the day to let out the moisture. That's it. Free fruit leather. Totally free. Figs,by the way, require no attention to bear fruit. None. Zero. Nada. You can't buy them in the grocery fresh because they don't ship well. They are the most local of fruits. What do figs taste like fresh? Sweet like a banana, seedy like a strawberry.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winter squash

Folk wisdom declares that pumpkin seeds should be planted on July 4th in the South in order to have them for Halloween. Using wonky logic I waited and planted my butternut squash seeds,also a winter squash, the first week of July. I'm not willing to declare absolute success because gardening is an ongoing lesson in humility, heartbreak always a possibility, but do have some truly beautiful specimens forming. Not knowing they would rival Jack's beanstalk in speed and length I stuck seeds randomly around the beds. They are now draped like kudzu all around the yard. Last year I had one butternut that when roasted was food for the gods. This year if the garden fairy is with me I'll have nearly 20. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tomato Wilt

The heartbreak of growing summer vegetables in the South is the stress heat and lack of/too much water place on plants. Tomatoes are particulary vulnerable. Old timers being creative made use of the fruit of wilting tomatoes. Made famous by a movie about women who kill, cut up, and cook a bad man into BBQ, fried green tomatoes are one good use for those not yet ripe tomatoes that must be pulled prematurely.

Stuffed Squash

We have a neighbor who reliably accepts surplus vegetables. This wonderful woman, though widowed, living alone with no one else to cook for, cooks for herself. She entertains and always cooks for family when they visit. Rarely does she eat out. She suggested stuffed squash and gave me this informal recipe when I waddled over under the weight of too many squash to deal with at once. It is beyond gourmet. There is no restaurant I know of that would serve such a meal. Too bad, America. Homage to Betsy, lady, neighbbor and good friend.

Betsy's Stuffed Squash

2 yellow summer squash, halved
1 small onion, chopped
small amount of leftover meat
1 cup of cheese
small amount of leftover cooked rice,stale bread, breadcrumbs or crackers
Salt and pepper to taste.
Fresh herbs (I used oregano, parley, and thyme.)

Cook the squash for about 5 minutes in a large pot of simmering water. Remove. Cool enough to handle, then scoop out the center. Saute the onion and garlic. Mix with scooped squash, add bread crumbs, meat and half the cheese, salt and pepper. Stir in chopped herbs. Stuff the squash shells and cook for 15 minutes at 350. Top with the remaining cheese return to oven to melt.