Transition Kitchen

Morning Shade

Morning Shade

LAKE MACBRIDE— Scum is forming on the surface of the crock liquid, and that’s a good thing: a sign of bacteria working the cucumbers, transforming them into pickles. Sounds kind of gross, but hopefully fermentation is going as it should— there are only so many times one can check the progress in a day, then it’s time to move on to something else.

Saturday’s weather was hot, but otherwise gorgeous. The work outside was invigorating and sweaty. The pest du jour was swarms of gnats which, upon arrival in the garden, were a reminder to apply repellent. An application of imitation vanilla around my nose and mouth took care of the annoyance, and unintentional ingestion of gnat protein.

The main garden task was to turn over soil where the spinach and radishes were to plant lettuce seedlings. It seems hot to be planting lettuce, but with the shade of the locust trees protecting the plot in the morning, I am hopeful of another crop. Much of gardening consists of experimentation and my newly found ability to start seeds in the garage has me doing more of it this year.

I cleaned up the plot, removing the fence to cut the grass, weeds and small trees growing around its base. Then I picked a bushel of lettuce from the previous plantings, and sorted, washed and dried it to make two bags for salads. There were a couple of small turnips, one of which was later grated onto a dinner salad. When the work was done, the garden plot looked well groomed.

As the kitchen fills with food, it is time to process the new and do something with the old. I separated the leaves from the stems to make a quart jar of dried oregano for winter cooking. I cleared some space in the freezer by removing bags of last year’s Anaheim, Jalapeno and red and green bell pepper and cooked them in a Dutch oven in a cup of white vinegar. When they were tender, I ran them through a food mill and put the resulting green hot sauce in a Mason jar in the refrigerator to use in Mexican-style dishes.

Using four pounds of yellow squash and zucchini, I made a casserole, which will keep for a few days. The idea was to use the squash, and I made a large recipe with the idea of following the chef’s instructions to produce the desired result. Next time, and it won’t be long, I’ll scale it down to portions for a household of two.

How many kohlrabi can a person eat in one season? I intend to find out. I made mashed potatoes for dinner using leftover roasted turnips and two kohlrabi cut into half inch dice and cooked in a separate pan. When the potatoes and kohlrabi were cooked, I added them to a large bowl with the turnip and mashed them. Once the blend seemed right, I added some salt, butter, sour cream and chopped fresh rosemary. It seems wrong to mixed potatoes with cruciferous vegetables, but what came out passed the taste test.

After dinner, I inspected and watered the garden. The new lettuce will need watering more often, and there is more to harvest Sunday: zucchini, green onions, herbs and broccoli. Chard and collards are plentiful, but there are enough leafy green vegetables in the refrigerator, so they’ll stay in the garden for now.

Septoria Leaf Spotting blighted some of the tomato plants. The ones with the first cherry tomatoes look like they will make it to harvest, but not much longer. I noted the last planted tomatoes have not shown evidence of the disease. Will observe them as the season progresses to see if any conclusions can be drawn. We are a week or two away from some ripe cherry tomatoes.

This is how it goes in a kitchen garden. A constant activity that is not tremendously exciting, but a template for living and eating well on mostly locally grown food and the work of our hands. Life could be a lot worse than this.

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