Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dining in the Garden

In the Garden
By Catherine Dougherty
High summer in the garden is the perfect place to dine. If one remembers to brush a little catnip over exposed skin, the mosquitoes will not be a bother for the entire evening and there is nothing quite as magical as this time of year. Besides the plus of gathering with friends while the sun sets and the frogs and crickets begin their song, collecting from the garden to prepare a meal is a joyful experience.
Like the proverbial Easter egg hunt, searching the garden then planning the menu can depend on what can be found just outside. A summer menu may consist of freshly picked green beans, snapped and cooked, simmered to a perfection. Corn may wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. Squash may be steamed or sliced, bushed with butter, broiled and sprinkled with a dusting of Parmesian cheese for zing. Glazed carrots, a salad using your own tomatoes and cucumbers, and potatoes cooked with rosemary are wonderful with grilled chicken or beef.
The new potatoes are still being harvested now so dig a batch and enjoy their delicious flavor. Wash them then cut in quarters. Add a handful of fresh Rosemary, a thinly sliced large onion, salt, pepper, and toss with a stick of butter. Cover the whole mess with foil to bake for an hour.
Latvian salad, aptly named for Olga Prancan who introduced it, is delicious! Freshly picked cucumbers, unpeeled and quartered then sliced to bite size are added to tomatoes, thinly sliced and diced onions or scallions, all of which is liberally sprinkled with fresh dill. Add sour cream then allow it an hour to chill before serving. Collect then slice carrots very thinly, about pencil sized. Cook until they are still firm but done, drain and then glazed with a stick (or two) of diced butter and a handful of brown sugar, all of which is tossed about. Guaranteed anyone who hates vegetables will find them irresistible. The two sticks of melted butter in the above recipes are not an issue when one realizes the produce is so ultimately fat free!
After collecting the fresh produce, the herbs, and grilling the meat, it is delightful to sit back and enjoy a delightful summer evening. The obvious delight of all of the guests who receive such a fresh and healthful culinary treat is worth the effort.