Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer love, corn, tomatoes, white nectarines, more skin....

As the sixth month of the year, June boasts longest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Constellations change as you stargaze, realizing stars are in different spots. Icelandic folklore says bathing naked in morning dew on June 24, will most assuredly keep aging at bay and if you are wearing pearls, the stone of health and longevity, you’ll be doubly blessed. Perhaps this alone is reason enough young couples worldwide tie the knot making June the month when most nuptials occur. Possibly being named after Juno, Goddess of Marriage is reason enough. June brides making last minute, needless preparations, crazy making in their astounding nonsense and urgency while June grooms get amazingly inebriated disconnecting from the madness realizing that anything they do or say could be catastrophic at best and wedding canceling at worst, can possibly be attributed to the ancient Celtic planting rituals revolving around massive amounts of food and drink for the masses that never leave our DNA regardless of origin and breeding leading to the current tradition of numerous weddings in June. Could always be the nice weather as well. Carrying on these rituals to some extent our summer gardens are probably by this time producing sweet confusions of tiny cherry tomatoes, cucumbers all gangly on vines and beans gaining length as we speak. Tiny peppers hide at ends of spent blooms, soaking up so much summer sun you can almost hear the rustle of laughter as the blossoms fall revealing plump fruits. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries entice, abstractedly hanging off vines in a series of gentle curves creating artists of us all, in our minds, while we paint pictures, barely touching the beauty of these fruits waiting to ripen in the garden as we force ourselves not to pick, not just yet. As solar heat coupled with regular water, a relationship worth educating yourself about, purposely provoke tug boat sized vegetables, beneficially essential as well as mischievous pests grow with mob mentality of action in the garden. Lady bugs good, snails bad. We keep organic in all our gardens and my motto is the more you plant good stuff the less trouble you have with weeds and pests. We have been told that Sluggo is good for snails and slugs as it is compressed wheat gluten that expands in stomachs of mollusks, not a bucolic image but not toxic being safe for pets as long as they aren’t your favorite slug or snail. As for gophers, voles or moles go you’re on your own. Start smart and if you are using boxes to grow in, cover bottoms many times over with chicken wire before adding dirt. This will almost certainly keep out burrowing critters. The rest short of physical violence, we just learn to coexist with trying to devour as much as they do, only quicker. Happy gardening and if you are not gardening, take full advantage of all the seasonal farmers markets open all over our valley right now for breathtaking, tongue tickling, almost as fresh as ours fruits and veggies to keep us all away from the doc and moving at full bore to enjoy all that the Diablo Valley and Northern Cali summer has to offer. I love corn fritters so it is only natural to make zucchini fritters as well with your abundance of this crop. Spoon the sweet and sour tomatoes over and lap it up!! Summer love! Corn Fritters 1½ cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons soda 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 large eggs ¾ cup milk 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups fresh corn kernels 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley and chopped basil Mix flour, powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and put eggs, oil and milk in center. Whisk together and add corn and herbs. Put enough oil in a frying pan to grease well. Fry the fritters a few at a time until golden on each side. Serve with Sweet and Sour Tomatoes. Sweet and Sour Tomatoes 2 pounds of assorted heirloom tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks 1 bunch green onions, sliced thin 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons of honey ¼ cup of seasoned rice vinegar 1 tablespoon of olive oil 1 teaspoon of kosher salt 1 ½ teaspoon spice mixture (recipe follows) or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin Put tomatoes, green onions and cilantro in a bowl and set aside. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add spice mixture and heat until bubbly, about 2 minutes. Slowly add honey and rice vinegar. Cook for 3 more minutes or until a little thick and gooey. Pour mixture over tomatoes, cilantro and green onions. Season with salt and let sit for about 5 minutes before using. Spice Mixture ½ teaspoon cardamom pods 2 teaspoons fenugreek ½ teaspoon coriander seeds 4 cinnamon sticks, crushed 2 star anise 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds 3 tablespoons of cumin seed Place all spices in a dry, non stick sauté pan. Turn temperature to medium high heat and toast the spices until the seeds begin to pop and the pan is lightly smoking. This should be extremely fragrant at this point. Do not burn the spices. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind all together in a coffee grinder. Store in a tightly covered jar in a dark place. Zucchini and Herb Fritters 2 pounds of assorted squash, grated 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley ½ cup crumbled feta cheese 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup dried bread crumbs 1 bunch chopped scallions kosher salt and freshly ground pepper Mix all of the above together and season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a fry pan and drop the batter by 2 tablespoons at a time. Cook until golden brown and flip. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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