Recent garden additions: a couple of gnomes plus some more basil, eggplants and peppers.
Dare, from YardFarm Austin-- you know, the folks who installed my amazing raised beds-- came by to put in these monster tomato cages. This pic was taken a few weeks ago and now, I kid you not, the tomato plants are taller than I am.
Here we have my first couple of tomatoes from the garden. OMG.
The other night Warren and I made dinner for some friends, using tons of food from the garden. Above there's a salad (lettuce and mixed greens homegrown) with yellow tomatoes (from the garden), a red tomato (grown local but not at my house-- got it at Wheatsville), and some feta from Phoenicia-- not the one in Austin (though that's good) but from this 55,000 square foot monster store in Houston that has an olive bar the size of a football field. The place is packed with Middle Easterners and the selection of food is so vast and stunning that it's worth making a trip to Houston just to shop there.
This here is chard (from the garden) sauteed ever so briefly in some EVOO (also from Phoenicia). I topped it with some shredded parm (Wheatsville) and, secret ingredient, "Slap Ya Mama"-- a super spicy seasoning mix my friends K & A gifted me.
Here we have the salad and greens along with some edamame (store bought, organic and DELICIOUS) and some orzo pasta (Farm to Market Grocery, 1718 South Congress) which I slathered in some homemade pesto made from homegrown basil. I'm a real throw-shit-together kind of cook so providing recipes is not something I do well. For my fellow fearless culinary shit-together-throwers, the gist of it is this:
Grab 20 or 30 basil leaves, rinse 'em and rough chop 'em. Throw them in the blender with a good long pour of EVOO-- you know, like a five count. Toss in four or five (or six or ten) cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper to taste, a handful of grated parm and-- my big secret-- some lightly toasted cashews. (I buy cashew pieces in bulk at Wheatsville since pieces are cheaper than whole cashews and you're going to be grinding them up so who gives a crap what they look like, right?) Now put the lid on and turn on the blender. If your blender is anything like mine (a $15 jobbie acquired at Target circa 1918 with blades that came pre-dulled and, thanks to years of use, are now about as sharp as Sarah Palin) and flip to high. Enjoy the smell of the burning motor as it tries to process the fact you just put in way more solid food than it's comfy with. Go ahead and toss in a little water-- really. I know this is probably a felony in Italy and I'm sure such tips will prevent me from ever getting a cooking show of my own. But when you work with the sort of equipment I have, you do what you have to. Anyway, eventually you should get the mix right (you can also add in more oil) and it will hopefully blend into a paste before the blender catches on fire. Now use that one spatula you own- you know the one that is a little bit burnt from the time you got it too close to the burner-- and scrape the pesto out of the Tired Little Blender and onto the al denta orzo and, voila, you're a damn champion Italian chef.
In conclusion: Grow your own food. Think about asking YardFarm Austin to help you. And stay tuned for more half-assed recipes soon. Next up: Spike teaches you the Wonders of Bread.