Last time we spoke I boldly proclaimed that this year I would finally give my little garden the attention it deserves. It has served us well in years past providing yard snacks of sugar snap peas, wild strawberries and raspberries. But this year I wanted to be able to cook a few dinners solely using the harvest from the garden.
In spite of me the garden flourished. By April I was giddy with the thought of spending extended periods of time outside again. Evening dinners by the garden seemed an impossible act when as the rains persisted. I started seeds on the ledge above our sink and watched their steady progress. For hours, I dug deep into the dirt extending the garden’s borders making room for squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, radish, and cucumbers. Hopes were high.
And then reality hit. Summer with three kids, camping trips, beach picnics, book writing and opening a retail/studio in Seattle leaves little time for pulling weeds. And yet the garden gives and rewards my efforts – no matter how lacking they may be.
Last week, after a quick jaunt to the islands, I came home to an empty fridge and a deep desire to order take out. I wandered into the garden to turn on the sprinkler but immediately found myself pulling weeds and making plans for dinner. There was a zucchini – a rare one not yet enjoyed by our squirrely garden guests, tender skinned potatoes, ruffled butter lettuce, green beans and plenty of fragrant herbs.
The potatoes I boiled in a vinegar brine then roasted until crisp on the outside and buttery inside. With the zucchini, I cut it into thick coins then fried in a bit of olive and finished with sumac – a brilliant red spice that tastes as if it’s laced with lemon – and mint. The greens were lightly dressed with a lemon yogurt dressing immersed with herbs. And the green beans, well, the kids ate those raw as a snack while they waited for their garden dinner.
Perhaps next year is the year I really dig deep into gardening and I can live out my dreams of weedless rows and towering teepees of greens beans. In the meantime, I’m thankful for tangled stems that produce tomatoes sweet and bursting with flavor, and jungle-like web of green beans that bring smiles to my kid’s faces, and potatoes springing from the dirt in which I proudly hold them high in the air and proclaim to my husband, I grew that! Really, the earth does the work and for that I am so grateful.
Ashley Ashley Rodriguez is a NW Mom, Chef, Food Blogger at notwithoutsalt.com and author of Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship