This summer is hot. For real. Its been a weird week- kind of busy but no energy and feeling blah. I get the sense everyone is feeling it, not just me. The two things that have kept me going this week (besides Grant and the doggers), though, are… fresh summer veggies and good music!
Last weekend we had a whirlwind of a road trip as we went to our friends Ali Marie & Dolan’s wedding celebration in the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia really IS for lovers. We had an amazing time with so many nice people and good food. Nothing says summer celebration better than welcoming the Solstice in with bluegrass tunes by a campfire with good friends! Oh, and our good friend George Dickel, he’s always fun at a party! We pitched our tent, had a quick night’s sleep, and were awakened by the most beautiful little chirping birds and the sight of these amazing little blue wildflowers! (Then on the way home we found. . . bum, bom, bohh. . . . . FOAMHENGE! See photos below!)
Last Saturday before we took off, we realized we had a bag of the most beautiful red and green okra I had found at The Turnip Truck earlier in the week. It had to be eaten. For the last couple of years, we have grown our own okra and always meant to pickle some but never did. This day, we realized just how easy it is to do so. Grant found a simple recipe online that went something like this:
1 qt white vinegar
1/2 cup sea salt
dash of organic raw sugar
1 cup water
hot red peppers
hot green peppers (we used Anaheim)
We sterilized the jars in boiling water, put the garlic, peppers, dill in, stuffed them with washed okra, and then poured the water/vinegar mixture (which had been heated with salt and sugar) over top and sealed them up. The jars are in the refrigerator now and in one week, we can see how they taste. I was a little sad that the red okra lost most of its color when we poured the warm mixture over it but they still look beautiful!
I get so overwhelmed looking at fresh summer produce. There are so many possibilities and it all has so much potential. I’ll admit it, I am a food nerd. I often buy things because they are pretty or interesting looking and I think they will photograph well. I always eat it and it never goes to waste. This year, probably because of the blog, I have been buying more vegetables I am less familiar with. It becomes a challenge to try to figure out how to cook it. That’s sort of what happened with these baby turnips I got this week. They were so cute and perfect in shape. I also jumped on the yellow wax beans just because I rarely see them. I started to explore cookbooks and recipe sites to find the perfect recipe for either or both together but got lazy and kept it simple. I just used what we had and this is what I came up with (as I rediscovered my love for Lyle Lovett’s, The Road to Ensenada)-
Baby Turnips & Waxed Beans with Tomato Relish
small bunch of baby turnips
small bag of yellow wax beans
1/2 basket of cherry tomatoes
hand full of fresh basil from the garden
our first green pepper from the garden
1-2 tbsp good olive oil
1/2 tsp unsalted organic butter
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
I cleaned and steamed the turnips for about 5 minutes and then added the beans. I steamed them for another 5 minutes maybe and then threw them in an iron skillet with a little olive oil and the butter on medium high heat to get them a little browned. I did not cook them long, maybe 5-10 minutes (both were still firm and crisp, the turnips seemed very potato-like). While these were cooking, I chopped the cherry tomatoes, green pepper and the basil and mixed it together with olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, and sea salt to make a little relish. I poured the turnips and beans in a bowl and topped with the relish. It was so simple yet tasted so fresh and delicious. We ate it with some baked lemon garlic chicken Grant concocted and it was perfect together. The next day, I had the leftover turnips & beans cold and it made the perfect healthy salad. Grant put some in a wrap with turkey. Ahhh… summer at its best!
That is all I have for now. But, I have lots and lots of fresh berries in the fridge and I plan to make many pies this weekend. The first Red Barn Round-Up of the season is on Sunday- the perfect mix of Southern cookin’ and old school country music!