Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Basket Twelve - Hitting Our Stride

I feel like we are really hitting our stride with the CSA baskets from Tecolote Farms. Summer vegetables, besides being amazingly beautifully colored, are my kind of eats. Probably due mostly to the generosity of my father in law while he was alive and sharing the bounty of his amazing back yard garden, I am already a fan of and comfortably ready with favorite preparations in mind for most any kind of summer produce.

In our CSA basket this week we had some lovely Amira Mediterranean cucumbers and a gorgeous onion. I have dill growing and going to seed in my own garden and I figured it was time to to put it all together into a summertime favorite of mine, cucumber salad. You can read about that here.Also in our baskets this week, we have okra, white and purple eggplant, red pontiac potatoes, acorn squash, a couple of tomatoes, and a new (for the baskets anyway) carrot - "Sugar Snacks".

Looking at the eggplants, I am figuring on another batch of that amazing Eggplant Butter we first tried while staying at a resort in Arizona in January. The chef there shared the recipe and you can find it here if you'd like to try that for yourself. The only way Eggplant Butter could be any better would be if it cleaned up after dinner and/or helped you lose weight. Which it most certainly does NOT. They don't call it "butter" for nothing. We got Spanish padrone peppers, a Hungarian pepper,and to finish, another small bunch of Thai basil with its incredibly beautiful edible purple flowers.

My husband and I love (love LOVE) fried okra. It might assure me a confirmed reservation for a specially vile level of hell to take locally grown organic okra, throw some breading on it and then toss it into hot oil to fry, but that is precisely what I plan on doing with mine. Seriously, my mouth is watering just typing about it.

I had carrots pretty much spilling out of my produce bin in the refrigerator already, so I decided to roast them to make room for the new basket offerings. I cut the two different carrot varieties I already had on hand up into various sized pieces and roasted them with onions from out back, and a few grape tomatoes I had left over that were looking kind of tired and crinkly already.

I tossed them all in a bit of olive oil and seasoned the lot of it with kosher salt, some chopped rosemary and Italian parsley from last week's basket.As the carrots and onions and tomatoes roasted, the aroma was tantalizing. I could barely wait for the them to cool enough to eat a few "just to test how they turned out".

Having discovered a hitherto unknown and apparently insatiable appetite for carrots roasted with rosemary, I find I will gobble them down in a Goldilocks style three way - too hot, just right warm, or cold. Doesn't matter to me. They taste amazing to me at any temperature. With this batch safely roasted and taking up less space now in the refrigerator, I am planning on trying some of them out in a roasted carrot soup, another batch in some sort of a pureƩ treatment, and then if there are any left over, I will reheat and devour as is.

I also have on hand some leftover grilled chicken from our Father's Day lunch, and a wonderful gift of pickled squash from a friend to try. And, what a delight to have so many delicious summer meal components ready and waiting for our evening meals. I can work in our own garden beds, volunteer, swim if I want to, and simply enjoy the lazier pace of these hot days. At the end of the day I have what I need on hand ready to put together a delicious dinner whenever we are hungry - all without having to heat the kitchen up. It doesn't get much better than that.

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