Farm To Table - A Real Garden Party!
Trying always to be cognizant of what goes into successful entertaining, I have become an observer and student of everything around me. I wrote this short story a few years ago and wanted to share it here. It's summer again, I'm at the beach, and I still live down the street from the wonderful family I wrote about here.
This summer - at a time when fresh food is so abundant - I realized that it might take nothing more than plucking a ripe vegetable or herb from a garden to entertain in a memorable way. I define entertaining as any moment that one invites another to enjoy and share food or drink in a pleasurable social setting.
In a place where I spend much of my summer, I witness this every year from June until September. Two blocks from the ocean, in a small garden, tradition is carried out just as it has been for hundreds of years. From this space, in a place that should technically not grow much (due to the sandy soil and salty air), a hearty crop of tomatoes, broccoli rabe, lettuce, zucchini, and basil is harvested by a beautiful family that I call my friends. From this plot, I witness the connection of a family to their land - to the food it produces - to the meals it makes - to the times that are shared enjoying it over a table.
The zucchini flowers start coming in late June, the premiere harvest of the summer season. This delicacy is harvested and the flowers are stuffed with fresh mozzerella, dipped in flour and fried. They are shared with neighbors and friends - this rare and annual treasure. The sharing of delicious food is as precious as the flowers themselves. Next, the broccoli rabe, gorgeous and green, its bitters so tasty when sautéed with garlic as a side dish or on Italian bread as sandwiches. Basil is next. It is handed out to family and neighbors and turns into pesto sauces and is frozen in ice cube trays with olive oil so that it can be enjoyed at a moments notice all year long. Next, are the lettuce and tomatoes. The big harvest in the beginning of august is used for sauce that can last well into the year.
All of this from a small family garden at the beach. As only God can do with his tools the sun, the rain and the love of this family - he feeds and creates enjoyment for so many. It is amazing to think of the power in this food. It is serves as a catalyst for conversation, meals, and even parties, bringing people together to enjoy it and each other.
Below is my quick list of Summer's Fresh Vegetables. If you don't grow your own, take the time to visit a farmer's market in your area. You can't beat its produce for freshness and flavor and it's a very healthy way to eat! You can find farmers' markets and family farms in your area at LocalHarvest.com>
Basil - Beets - Cabbage - Carrots - Celery -Chard - Corn - Cucumbers, Eggplant - Fennel - Garlic - Jicama - Lettuce - Lima Beans, Mushrooms - Okra - Onions - Peas - Parsley - Potatoes - Radishes - Rhubarb - Spinach - Summer Squash - Sweet Peppers - Tomatoes
Here are a few of my favorite summer recipes: