Environment Local Food

Anaheim Peppers and the Cucumber Plants

Lake Macbride
Lake Macbride

LAKE MACBRIDE— The advantage of a kitchen garden is when a cook needs something, it is a short walk to the food supply… and it’s ultra-fresh. While making red beans and rice for lunch, I remembered there were large Anaheim peppers in the garden so I went to pick a couple to dice and add to the dish. While there, the cucumber plants were droopy, meaning they wanted water in the hot sun. My policy is watering cucumbers and squash twice a day is all I’m willing to do. If they can’t make it here on that— well tough toenails.

Perhaps it’s a little harsh, but drought is an ever-present reality in Iowa. The pattern of average annual rainfall makes it possible to grow crops in abundance without extensive irrigation like they have on Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer. It’s part of what makes Iowa Iowa, but that may be changing.

While early summer has been as good as it gets, we need rain now. The few extra gallons I may sprinkle on squash and cucumber plants will not deplete the Silurian aquifer, yet frugal dispensation of water is one way I am adapting to climate change. The county actually studied the aquifer and found there is plenty of water to meet current and future needs.

There have been and will be plenty of cucumbers. I started my third fermentation of dill pickles this morning, and yesterday planted new cucumber seeds in trays for the fall harvest. Schedule permitting, I’ll plant a couple more rows directly in the garden as July wanes. These actions, with a supply from the CSA, and there is no need to preserve the current cucumber plants by abnormal watering. In any case, they still might make it.

Black Raspberries
Black Raspberries

It has been a busy day in the kitchen. In addition to dill pickles and red beans and rice, half of the black raspberries were made into a thick dark syrup to use on biscuits, toast, pancakes and other applications. If I had pectin on hand, I would have made jelly. The syrup is so good and can be used in other applications, so the pectin was not missed.

One other item for my wheat-free friends. We had a pint of pasta sauce on hand, and instead of pasta, I got out the mandolin, purchased for a buck at a household auction, and using the finest blade, cut a long yellow squash and zucchini into “noodles.” I brought a pot of water up to a boil, cooked them four minutes and served like pasta. Very tasty and gluten free. Also one more thing to do with the abundance of squash.

Now off to the kitchen for the perpetual cleaning up.