Kitchen Garden

Gardeners Are Cooks

Saturday Harvest
Saturday Harvest

As the garden produces more food than we can eat fresh, attention turns toward the kitchen where preservation, along with preparation of tasty fresh food meals, are the priorities.

Kitchen work started Saturday afternoon and continues.

I prepared a simple dinner while listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. For appetizer there was basil pesto spread on a piece of toast, a slice of cheese, and raw carrots. The main course was brown rice cooked in homemade soup stock sprinkled with scallions, steamed green beans, a burger patty topped with home made barbecue sauce, and a Belgian beer. Dessert was fresh cherries mixed in a cup of Greek yogurt. Each plate exuded summer goodness.

A full row of basil produced enough leaves to make pesto. Here is the recipe:

Simple Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor take the following steps:
Pour basil leaves in the bottom and add pine nuts.
Pulse for about 30-45 seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add garlic and cheese.
Pulse for 30-45 seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Stream the olive oil into the bowl while it is running, scraping down the sides from time to time.
Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Pesto must be used quickly or frozen to prevent oxidation. The plan is to make a pasta dish using pesto as the dressing.

Michigan Cherries
Michigan Cherries

On a working class payday it feels like there is money so I did some shopping, buying some special items: two kinds of bird seed, a case of Stella Artois, a case of brewed root beer, and three pounds of fresh, Michigan sweet cherries. The beverages should last the rest of the summer.

Here’s how I told the story on social media,

After work at the home, farm and auto supply store I bought two kinds of bird seed: straight safflower seeds and a mix of sunflower kernels, peanuts, sunflower seed, safflower seed, hulled pumpkin seed, raisins and dried cranberries. We’ve already tried straight millet, and straight sunflower seeds, plus a traditional mix.

Next I went to the warehouse club up the hill where I bought a big bag of garlic (to make basil pesto on Saturday) and some root beer for the holiday weekend.

After that, to the orchard where I bought these cherries. I met Paul’s brother once at the orchard and these are his cherries, grown in Michigan. Know the face of your farmer is my best advice on eating good food. I also confirmed the start of my employment when the season begins July 30. With my other jobs that will be seven days a week of work until November, but it’s so much fun, it’s not really work. Hope my Facebook friends have a great weekend.

Use of greens turned from turnip tops to kale. I gave library workers a reprieve and have a large plastic bag full of kale in the refrigerator. While not sure what to do with it, it will be revealed when I return to the kitchen. Fresh soup certainly; a kale salad for lunch most likely. Kale freezes well, however, if everything goes well in the garden, plants will continue to produce until November — no need to fill up the freezer with kale today. It is encouragement to pick the best leaves now and compost the rest.

It is sad more people don’t appreciate kale.

Kale Comment

Cut stems of oregano are on the drying rack. The herb returns each year and we don’t use much of it. The plan is to dry enough to fill a small jar for winter. Whatever basil is left after another jar of pesto will also go on the drying rack.

Day Lily
Day Lily

One of the deficiencies of our garden is not enough flowers. In fact, the only flowers are some volunteer day lilies and milkweed. After many years of fruit and vegetable growing, I may be proficient enough to plan a flower garden plot. That idea will go into the planning hopper for next year.

We are going home and three events this weekend reminded us of that.

Elie Wiesel died, silencing an important voice for human rights. I will never forget the Holocaust as one of the genocides that make us who we are. While visiting Dachau in 1974 I learned the reason Jews were exterminated with poison gas was bullets were too expensive, according to the Nazis. My visit highlighted the importance of treating every human being with kindness and dignity — a lesson that continues today.

Garrison Keillor performed for the last time as host of A Prairie Home Companion. During a previous “last show” in the 1980s I turned on the cassette recorder and went for a walk with our daughter. I wanted to be with her constantly before she left home for school. As we now know, Keillor’s departure in the ’80s was more hiatus. Preparing dinner with the radio tuned in has become a part of my life, reinforced during the years in Big Grove. I’ll get over the change. I listened to the whole program last night.

Paul Simon is ready to give up writing and performing music. “Showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me,” Simon told Jim Dwyer of the New York Times. “None.” If he does give up music after his current world tour, it will have been a great run for the septuagenarian. I was a fan of Simon and Garfunkel in high school and have vinyl of their first album with “Hey School Girl.” On the album jacket it reads, “Contained in this album is a generous sampling of two stars of tomorrow who are the talk of the record world today.” Simon continues to be the talk of the recording world, so cross off the part about the future. Early Paul Simon inspired me to write. Modern day Paul Simon teaches us to keep learning and changing.

Celebrity departures from life in society are one thing, but it’s closer to home. My parents’ generation is dying and so many of my high school classmates have left us. There is a meme going around social media expressing this sentiment. Here is a sample with my response:

Boomers Die

Michael Martinez explained why the elves left Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings. While not exactly the same it articulates a relevant sentiment:

The elves were compelled to leave Middle Earth by a spiritual summons of the Valar, calling them to their ultimate destinies within time and space. In The Simarillion J.R.R. Tolkien explains how the Valar — the guardians of the world — felt that the long-lived elves would be better off living near the Valar in the blessed realm, far from the mortal lands where men were destined to build their civilizations and live out their lives.

It is time to let go and let others build their lives. The kale and basil won’t preserve themselves, so I’m off to the kitchen.