Embrace What the Garden Gives You

Garden Produce

Or someone else’s garden or your farm box – you get the picture! This time of year the tomatoes, zucchini and peaches start showing up in office lunchrooms with a note that says “take me.” Or a neighbor leaves town and begs you to pick and take home whatever you can while they are gone. Or your CSA is filled to the brim with the season’s bounty.

And sometimes it goes to waste. Because we are busy. Or tired of it. Feeling uncreative. And it.is.just.sitting.there.on.the.counter. Staring at us (ok, me). So what should I do?

This week’s tip is to make it happen. Embrace the magnitude of produce overtaking kitchen counters, gardens, office lunchrooms… And do something – many somethings in fact!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Take inventory. What do you have, how much and how ripe?
  • Prioritize. Figure out things to do in order of ripeness.
  • Place fruits that need to be eaten quickly in a special bowl on the table or include it on your Kitchen Counter Challenge Plate.
  • Think outside the box or the time window. Think preservation.
  • Utilize your freezer. Chop up super ripe fruit and freeze for smoothies or ice cream. Puree overly ripe fruit and freeze for smoothies or baking. Chop up herbs and freeze them in an ice-cube tray.
  • Make jams, chutneys, salsas, pestos, sauces.
  • Grate squash and use it in dishes and baked goods.
  • Slice tomatoes and stone fruits and dehydrate them.
  • Make big salads.
  • Make big pots of veggie soup and freeze what you don’t eat in family serving sizes.
  • Put together amazing berry-licious desserts.
  • Search the internet by ingredient for recipes (for example: green bean recipes).
  • Ask a friend for ideas. Ask all your Facebook friends for ideas. Buy a seasonal foods cookbook. Have your kids pick a recipe.
  • Celebrate the bounty with a fancy evening meal – “Zucchini Four Ways.” Print out a Prix Fixe Menu for each place setting and use fancy linens.
  • Add eggs and make an omelet, frittata, quiche or scramble.
  • Make lots of something and share with friends, a person in need, a potluck group, the office.
  • Learn to can. Learn to ferment. Learn to juice.
  • Plan your meals around what you have.

Whatever you do, don’t despair! This is a wonderful challenge to have and one we will all be dreaming about this winter. Say “YES” to any and all offers for fresh, local, nutrient-rich produce this summer. Then remember that summer is a time for play, so use this as a chance to play with your food!

Let me know, what are you working with and what are you doing to do with it?

Join us on the Facebook page – I’ll be posting links to recipes and preservation methods to help us all out!

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