Tomorrow is the summer solstice. I won’t pretend to know exactly what this means other than it being the longest day of the year and the beginning of swarms of mosquitoes, air so thick it’s a workout just to take a breath, and temps that cause drenching sweat walking from the house to the mailbox. And yet, I love the summer months.
This afternoon, driving home from work with the windows down, despite the already record-breaking heat, with the radio turned up, singing along to my nick-namesake song…867-5309, I was ready to get home and check my garden for fresh pickings. Summer veggie gardening is the main reason I can tolerate the bugs, bad weather, and constant sweat.
My garden is just starting to take off. The heirloom tomatoes’ branches are heavy with green fruit, the peppers are putting on strong stems, the eggplants are unfurling large leaves, and the cucumber and zucchinis are stretching their blossom-lined vines. I went straight out back with Ruby Joon to check if there was anything I could use for dinner. I found one deep purple eggplant and two ripe tomatoes. The orange tomatoes are always the first to ripen in my garden. Doesn’t that eggplant look like an elephant? Maybe it’s just me.
Anyhoo, I decided to use these finds with some of the garlic I harvested a few weeks ago to try and create dinner. The blooms of the garlic are some of my favorite late spring flowers. They make beautiful, long-lasting cut flowers for the house. I use garlic in almost every dinner I make. It is an easy and healthy spice to add to most meals and I hear that it may even help keep those pesky skeeters away.
So I set to work peeling and cutting the eggplant, chopping the tomatoes and garlic, and I found a shallot to slice up and throw in the saute pan as well. I decided to go Asian-style and had some rice noodles boiling on the side while I quick-cooked the veggies in coconut oil with some smoked paprika and soy sauce. Threw in a spoonful of local honey near the end with the fresh garlic and PAZOWIE! Delicious dinner made mostly from my own yard garden.
The summer veggies are my favorite and I can’t wait to hit up the farmers markets tomorrow morning to supplement my voracious vegetable intake until my garden really gets going. All of this seasons selections remind me of the first garden I was introduced to–my father’s small veggie garden. Having just celebrated Father’s Day, this time of year always makes me think back to that first garden I remember. He had the basics: tomatoes, beans, radishes I would pull from the ground, rinse in the pool, and eat right then, and probably others I can’t think of any longer. My dad still grows a few tomatoes every summer, but I like to bring him and my mom a basket of goodies from my harvest when I visit. Not only did my dad introduce me to the world of gardening, but as an English teacher, he also instilled in me the love of books and writing. I know Father’s Day was almost a week ago now, but I’ll say it again. I’m super thankful for my awesome dad!
Happy beginning of summer, y’all!