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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tantalizing Tastes and Smells: The First Major Harvest

Our gardens are flourishing, and last night marked the first major food preservation event of the season.

The herb garden smells tantalizing and is growing beyond expectations . Our basil plants were ready for a good cleaning, and our summer savory was beautifully out-of-control.  Chamomile was definitely gorgeous, but also in need of a good harvesting as well. I harvested basil, spearmint, chamomile, and summer savory. My hands smelled like a Sicilian countryside (at least in my imagination).  On a non-food note, our butterfly weed is an eye-catcher. Butterflies are rapidly increasing in our yard!

Basil Plants
Butterfly Weed and Caterpillar

Our first three pints of pesto are in the freezer. The same basic recipe was used as last year, but this time we also added in some green carrot tops in conjunction with the basil and used walnuts in place of pine nuts. anyone?

Our dehydrator wasn't working due to the humidity, so we oven-dried (yes, in this heat and stickiness!) a pint of chamomile and 2/3 pint of spearmint. Today, we're drying several batches of summer savory.
Summer Savory waiting for the oven
Chamomile and Spearmint - dehydrated and waiting to be brewed

We also pulled our first beets. The greens were blanched and are now chilling in the freezer. We plan to make Beetniks with this crimson bundle of goodness after tomorrow's 60-minute run.

 Finally, a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette is in the fridge waiting to dress fresh salads!  Our raspberries are producing well, though picking is such a continuous process as all raspberries are not ready at the same time. Jam is hard to do with just a few quarts, but vinaigrette is perfect for such an amount. Not much measuring was done for this process; it was a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-chef's-pants dressing, but it turned out fabulous. So, adapt this to your liking.

Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette
about 3 cups of raspberries
about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of walnuts
about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
about 2-3 Tbs. of lemon juice
a couple teaspoons of Dijon mustard
about a teaspoon of honey (or other sweetener)
salt and pepper to taste
small clove of garlic

Put all ingredients except for the olive oil in the food processor. Process until well-blended. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until emulsified. Viola! It's done! Should keep in the fridge for quite some time. Always shake before using.

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