Thursday, August 26, 2010

When your garden is more generous than you can handle

We have far more delicious food in our house these days than we can possibly eat. Last night I made beet greens with caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes, corn on the cob and salmon cakes (a recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa and made with our own red onions and green peppers.) Jim has also been on a cooking tear, making gumbo, green bean casserole, fried potatoes and one tomato sandwich after another.

So what do you do when the garden is so generous that you can’t possibly eat it all? Some weeks there isn’t even enough time to preserve it. Remember, there’s always someone who needs food. Especially these days when money is tight for so many, food pantries and other non-profits who provide food to people are in need of donations. Though food pantries used to accept only packaged foods, many have changed their policies and now accept home grown fruits and vegetables.

Two weeks ago I took green beans and okra to our local pantry. The director told me she was especially concerned for senior citizens who were coming to the pantry in increasing numbers. Her observation was that these seniors had fewer resources to draw on than younger folks in need.

So I did a little research to check into the state of senior hunger today. According to a 2010 report from Feeding America, 1.7 million households with seniors are food insecure. They also report that nearly 10 percent of the elderly in the U.S. live below the poverty line. Like children, the health of older people depends on good nutritional intake.

When the garden is generous, let it inspire you to be generous, too. Every community can use help in some way. Check with the local food bank, senior citizen program, health department. Someone will be able to point you in a direction that will allow you to share the fruits of your labor.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August is the worst month for a gardener and cook (who also has a full time job) to blog about food. There are beans and tomatoes to can, the fall garden to plant, the meals to cook. I enjoy all of those things much more when the thermometer isn't stretching toward 100 degrees.

So I’m taking a shortcut this week and posting a recipe Neal gave me. It’s a great way to use your overabundance of squash. If you like the soup, cut up one pound of squash and put it in a freezer bag so you’ll be able to recapture the taste of summer this winter.

Italian Squash Soup


2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 lb. cubed squash
1 lb. cubed potato
1 small sliced carrot
1 can crushed tomato
2 cans vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley


Finely chop garlic. Heat olive oil just short of smoking and add garlic. Sauté until lightly browned and then add squash. Cook for ten minutes stirring frequently. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one-half hour.

Beth’s addition: throw in homemade noodles at the end (or any other kind of grain) to add a special touch.