Friday, August 19, 2011

Commitment to Place

When my husband and I planted fruit trees in our orchard many years ago, we were making a commitment to a place. Planting the trees signaled a new life stage. It takes a tree many years to produce fruit and I knew then I'd be here for awhile. If you plan to move after a few years, you might plant herbs or maybe even a full garden. But fruit trees? Fruit trees get planted when a person plans on settling down.

Recently, I returned from being away for two weeks. I mowed the orchard soon after I returned. It was then I realized all but the two youngest trees now have fruit. The pear and apple branches all bow from the weight of the fruit. My commitment to place finally paid off. This fall will be delicious with pear/apple crisps, baked apples, fresh pears, and applesauce.

Many people have made a similar commitment to this place. By place, I mean the geographical term referring to both the human and physical characteristics that exist. Food, faith, industry, folklore, rivers, streams, mountains and fields are all examples of human and physical characteristics. This commitment has been a benefit to the local food scene over the years. When I first moved here, I don't remember any farms offering a CSA, you couldn't buy meat or eggs at the farmers' market, there were no restaurants specializing in local food, and I surely don't remember church and school gardens. Now all exist.

So enjoy it all! August and September are the best months to enjoy the abundance coming out of farms and gardens. This time of year markets explode with produce, meat, honey, and others. Your garden may be bursting at the seams with tomatoes, zucchini, onions, basil and others. There are recipes I only make this time of year as they are best when made with the freshest ingredients. Below you will find a few....Enjoy....

Zucchini and Basil Salad
Thanks Jean!

3-4 medium summer squash, julienned
2-3T fresh basil, chopped
3-4T Parmesean cheese, grated
Toss together.

¼ C red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. sugar
2 garlic cloves (or more if you like a lot of garlic), minced
Combine and pour over salad. Mix, chill one hour and serve. Best eaten the same day.

4 fl.oz olive oil
2 fl.oz red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
2lbs fresh tomatoes or canned plum tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 small or 1 large cucumber, sliced
½ onion, sliced

garnish: croutons or hard-boiled eggs

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, cumin, and Tabasco in a food processor with ½ the vegetables listed and puree. Transfer soup mixture to a bowl and puree the remaining vegetables and add to soup. Refrigerate until very cool or overnight.

Greek Stew

1 tsp. olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 T. minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (about 2lbs)
1lb. green beans, stems removed (about 4 cups)
¼ cup fresh parsley
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
juice of two lemons
ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil and stir in the onions and garlic, cover and saute on low heat for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add oregano, salt, tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and beans are tender.
Just before serving, stir in the parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Sprinkle feta on top.

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