Sunday, June 24, 2012

garden meal for the summer solstice

from our garden:  pea pods, fava beans, currants, garlic scapes

There's a time sometime in mid-summer that food starts to come from the garden faster than we can eat it and it always surprises me.  After planning all winter for the next summer's garden, then watching it all spring as the ground slowly warms, it amazes me that it can all sort of pop up and out at seemingly the same time.

This year, it's earlier than normal.  At the summer solstice we have red and black currants at the peak of their production and raspberries are just starting.  Strawberries and serviceberries are well past their peak and pretty much over at this point as are most of the greens in the garden which have long gone to seed.  Fava beans are bursting at the seams and the snow peas are producing every day.  The tops of the garlic plants are curling over and are right on schedule, as they respond to the length of the days, rather than the soil temperature.

And it's a challenge to know what to do with it.  What do you do with snow peas, fava beans, garlic scapes and currants when you need to make dinner?

I figured it would all go in a stir fry.
my charming assistant in currant picking
Since I was picking berries, I had two willing helpers, who are usually willing to lend a hand when something tasty is ready to be picked.  Tasties include the (kinda sour!) currants and (really sweet) pea pods. 

Interestingly enough, they also love picking fava beans, even though I'd assume that they were more of an acquired taste.

When kids are involved in the production of food, they seem to become much more interested in eating the final product it seems.  So I've involved them wherever I can.  And now it has the benefit that they really can be useful, whereas I was just trying to corral them and keep them from stepping on the newly planted plants most of the time when they were toddlers.

So anyway, my two assistants picked the red, pink and white currants, and we jointly decided not to add the black currants because they taste different (and truly are an acquired taste- but one that I've acquired now).  And we picked peas and favas and I cut all of the scapes off of the garlic that Gita hadn't yet cut.

Then I ransacked the freezer to see what I could find- and there was half a bag of forgotten frozen shrimp that was just right for making a midsummer stir fry. 

So I threw some olive oil in the wok and some garlic cloves and fried those shrimp up with a little juice from a half a lime at the back of the fridge, let it simmer, added the scapes, peas, currants and favas as well as a little piece of ginger, let that simmer a bit with a little fish sauce and hot sauce and the last bit of some salsa at the bottom of a jar, and voila- stir fry made with forgotten leftovers and fresh garden produce!

the final product.  was delicious over rice noodles.
No recipe- just a bunch of good food, and stuff from the back of the fridge.  Which I love.  We served it over rice noodles which all the Asian grocery stores in St. Paul have, but which I'd have no idea where to find anywhere else. 

I'd be interested to know how others use their midsummer produce.  What do you do with the abundance of greens and berries and everything else that shows up in the garden this time of year?  Leave me a comment about what you do. I love stir-fry but need to expand my repertoire.  


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