All the work of sowing seeds, nurturing the seedlings, transplanting, watering, mulching, weeding, bug picking and varmint eradicating have once again produced what we call our miracle meals. They change with the seasons but it never fails. If we do the work, the harvest will come; sometimes bountiful and sometimes more sparse but the harvest always comes.
Now for us here in the mid Atlantic region, our first spring harvest is finished. The asparagus is readying itself for next year. The broccoli is finished and now bolting. The lettuces and spinach were done weeks ago. Just when you think nothing in the world tastes better than fresh grilled asparagus sitting on some freshly picked greens, you are pulling weeds one June evening and there are little yellow flowers beginning to pop on the Lycopersicon lycopersicum. The cuke flowers had bloomed earlier but these flowers are the grin-makers. I take a quick break to snag one of the tiny basil leaves and roll it between my palms, close my eyes and take a deep whiff. It won’t be long, happens every year, but it’s not time yet.
This hiatus between spring vegetables and summer bounty gets supplemented in our home with trips to local organic farms since we didn’t do potatoes this year nor string beans – some life events kept the eating garden a tad on the small side. But again, the size still doesn’t stop the miracle from happening. If we work on the weeds and bugs and all that goes along with it, the harvest will come.
So now there are cukes abounding – not those slick waxed things at the grocery store, but a nice firm thin skinned cucumber that it a favorite here. Here’s our favorite recipe for this humble vegetable, although there are a hundred ways to fix and use them.
3 cups plain whole milk yogurt – this is so much better if you can use goat yogurt
1 large cucumber – peel, cut in half and scoop out seeds with a teaspoon
Put your yogurt in some cheesecloth and hang with a stick or whatever you have over a bowl – let drain for 3 hours
Shred your cucumber – easier than dicing – just use a box grater. Let it sit the same amount of time as the yogurt and then squeeze all the juice out.
Mix yogurt and cucumber and add in 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill and 1 large garlic clove, minced.
We take this sauce known as tzatziki and pour it over grilled gyro meat sliced super thin. There are tons of recipes on the internet to make your own gyro meat. We throw a couple pieces of pita bread on the grill along with the meat as we’re only heating things through and then spoon on the tzatziki – Oh Boy!!!
Those blushing tomatoes will just keep soaking up the sun for the next few weeks until they cozy up with a now frozen rasher of smoked pork belly and an old iron skillet that awaits. Everyone will be very happy between slices of toasted bread and a dab of mayo, but that’s for another article.
Eat well and healthy my gardening friends. Our labor produces good fruit. Count your blessings and don’t let the hornworms get you down!
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 15, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)