It's August now, which means that the garden is finally giving me tomatoes and the corn is showing its tassels, and it's time to start thinking about where next year's garlic is going to go in the ground.
And at my place, that also means it's time to discover surprises. Like a clutch of eggs hidden in an unusual space because a new hen has gone broody, or an evening primrose growing with the cucumbers and both flourishing. Or that the chickens are moonlighting as farmers and growing their own treats.
That's right, folks. My chickens are farmers. They have planted corn, squash and tomatoes. Actually, they planted two squash plants, and I just noticed the second one today, as it's trailing off across the yard, putting off pretty yellow male and female flowers, so we'll be getting some fruits soon.
I'm not sure what kind they are. Could be butternuts, that seems to be the birds' favorite, or else pumpkin.
Equally likely it could be acorn, since the one time we fed that to them they ignored it and it went the way of any other composted vegetable.
In any case, I'm looking forward to finding out what it is because winter squash is a long-keeping fruit.
You can keep it inside in a cool, dark and dry place, like a root cellar, for a year. Not that ours ever last that long. Roast squash and chickpeas, squash soup, pie, pozole -- there all kinds of ways to use it.
For the sake of narrowing down the list, I think I'll wait to see what kind of squash I have before plying you all with recipes. Plus, that's a fall conversation, and we still haven't made it out of summer yet!
As I write this it's a refreshing 78 degrees on a Monday morning, and after last week's heat wave it is weclome relief to many. Me, I was built for southern weather and I don't exactly mind the humidity, but I can't handle it like I could when I was in my 20s, when I used to wait until the heat of day while my little ones were nappinng to go out and do all my gardening. Nowadays, I'm more likely to do the bare minimum and just spend the rest of the time taking in the breeze in the shade on my porch.
This week, though, thanks to the cooler weather and a little extra free time, I've got projects lined up.
Time to get caught up on the weeding, and time to harvest my herbs. I've got a huge mess of rosemary and oregano in particular. I expect I'll be bundling them up and hanging them on the clothesline to dry before storing them in glass canning jars for the next year.
Lots of folks like to use a dehydrator or hang a drying line up in their kitchen. Myself, I find using a dehydrator for herbs to be messy and time consuming, and my small kitchen isn't the most conducive to hanging up herbs to dry, but my clothesline is out in a perfect spot where it's sunny and breezy, but not so much of either that I'll lose all my work. And with the week's temperatures being in the low- to mid-80s
until Friday, and no rain in the forecast, it's as good a time as any.
When the garden is bursting and there's work to be done everywhere I look, I have to make an effort to think about nourishing myself to give myself the energy to do it all. In preparation, I've made a quick batch of slaw and mayonnaise and bought a whole bunch of wraps for quick and easy breakfasts and lunches to eat in the shade while I work. I just toss in the vegetables from the day's harvest and some leftover protein or cold cuts and chow down.
I will share the slaw and mayo recipes so you, too, can grab a quick healthy bite as you go about your own days.
Whatever you are harvesting, may it be bountiful and sustain you in the cold winter months that aren't as far off as they presently seem, and may you be surrounded by love that keeps your heart as warm as these early August days.
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
Mix ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Let sit, chilled, for an hour. Toss before serving. Keeps for
several days, covered, in the fridge.
WHOLE EGG MAYONNAISE
Makes 1 pint
2 large eggs, room temp*
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar of choice (I like to experiment with different kinds, red wine vinegar is a good
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
(optional) your choice of herbs and seasonings to taste
Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl and whip them with an immersion blender** for about 10 seconds, until frothy.
Add remaining ingredients and blend slowly, keeping the blender at the bottom of the bowl for about 10 seconds.
Once the mixture begins to emulsify, move the blender in an up and down motion very slowly, for about 10-15 more seconds, until the mixture is fully emulsified and has the consistency of mayonnaise. Taste and adjust salt and herbs if needed, stirring to blend.
The mayo will keep for about a week in the fridge.
*Raw eggs may contain salmonella bacteria, to which infants and children, seniors, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. The USDA stresses raw eggs should not be consumed, however in-shell pasteurized eggs may be used safely without cooking.
**Note, this recipe uses an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender, use a food processor or blender and add the oil last, slowly, while blending. You might like to have a helper.