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From the Garden this Week, June 24, 2021...

From the Garden this Week…

Summer Squash, Onions, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Hot Peppers, Garlic, Radishes, Cucumbers, Carrots, Beets, Basil, Strawberries and Plums

Coming Soon…Beans and Melons

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno

More of our summer vegetables are coming in season and we will have peppers and a handful of tomatoes available. I’m a believer in the fact that you can never have too many squash recipes, so when I came across this one last fall, I made a note to write it down. It’s similar to my fritters, but you bake it all together so it’s a hands-off recipe. Feel free to add in extra vegetables. This recipe came from Yotam Ottolenghi, in the cookbook Simple. I like the combination of eggs, basil and squash. Speaking of summer squash, I am making a simple grilled squash salad with white beans, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and basil. I grilled the squash ahead of time and let it cool, then season it with salt and pepper, combining the beans, squash and herbs after everything cools off.

Zucchini and Ciabatta Frittata, adapted from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

18 ounces ciabatta, hearty French or sourdough bread, torn into rough cubes

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons cream

2 garlic cloves minced

6 eggs

¾ tsp ground cumin

3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

3-4 pieces summer squash, grated, about 4-5 cups

1 & ¼ cups basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Combine milk, cream and bread, set aside for 30 minutes. Combine the garlic, eggs, cumin, cheese, zucchini and basil, then add in the milk and bread mix. Place an 8x10 inch baking dish in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven brush with the oil and then add in the mixture, bake for 20 minutes, top with cheese and bake another 20-25 minutes until it is cooked through.


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Summer Pickles…

I love vinegar and sour/acidic foods. I have always been a fan of pickles and in the summertime when cucumbers are in season, I forgo buying pickles for these easy-to-make refrigerator pickles. The texture will change over time, but the vinegar and salt preserve the cucumbers in the fridge for several weeks or more. Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste, and add in more garlic or peppers. You can eat those out of the jar too. Save the pickling liquid for salad dressing too, you’ve also made your own flavored vinegar.

Refrigerator Pickles

½ cup vinegar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1-3 cucumbers, cut into spears or slices or both

1-2 cloves garlic

1 dried chili or a pinch of chili flakes or fresh hot pepper sliced (optional)

1 pinch of dill seed (optional)

1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)

½ teaspoon whole black pepper corns

Combine the water, vinegar and salt in a jar or measuring cup, stir to dissolve the salt. Pack the cucumber slices in a pint jar and then add in the spices. Pour the vinegar-water over the top until everything is submerged. Put the jar in the fridge for at least two or three days if possible, and enjoy for several weeks as needed.

Today is June 21, 2021 and the longest day of the year. More sun and energy are available today than there will be on any other day this year. It is an important day for gardens. George Ball of the Fayetteville Observer has written it best, “Summer solstice begins the year’s vegetative (think vegetables) phase of spreading foliage, lengthening stems, dilating leaves reaching out for yet more solar rays, and flowers tuning their colors and sweetening their nectar-all to ensure pollination and fruit set. An annual vascular plant’s only goal is to reproduce; a seed uses a plant to produce more seeds” (Ball, 6.21.21).

I love this day. In the East, from which I hail, late June landscapes reach their climax in terms of color. Vegetable gardens begin to become absolutely bountiful with produce lasting throughout the summer. It is also a time when imperceptibly, day time hours shorten and nights become longer, even within the context of extraordinary fruit bearing. Slowly, bit by bit, the fruit in the gardens will fade into the fall; colorful flowers so extraordinary right now, will fade, giving over into vibrant autumn foliage, full of beauty in its own right. Then, the earth will once more enter a season of wintering.

If I am completely honest, dear reader, this is the first year that I have felt the profundity of the tilt toward winter. I wonder what the summer of my life will look like in terms of the seeds that were planted in the Spring of my life (think children and grandchildren for example). In the midst of such beauty and joy...there is also a weight: a struggle to hold the tension. I wonder if this may have been but a taste of what Jesus experienced in His own holding of the tension between the seasons of earth’s cross (the seed that dies) and heaven’s resurrection (the harvest a hundredfold), but with far more insight than I have about life, loss and death.


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