No, I didn't forget about the persimmon vinegar I made this winter. I drew the vinegar off the fruit and decanted it into this empty (and cleaned) soy sauce bottle.
I rarely buy prepared salad dressings anymore, because it is so easy and tastier to make my own fresh. Lately I've been dressing salads with a couple of tablespoons of my own persimmon vinegar, mixed with a little extra virgin olive oil, mustard powder (to emulsify the dressing), salt and pepper. The persimmon vinegar adds an intriguing and unexpected note to the mix.
Here's a quickie salad: grate some cabbage and carrots, toss them together in a bowl, and dress very very lightly with a vinaigrette such as my persimmon vinaigrette or your own version. (You can substitute red wine vinegar for the fruit flavored one and it will be yummy too).
It makes me happy to create a dish with my own crafted ingredients, even something as simple as this.
Here are some onions and a small cabbage from our garden, which I harvested in early July. I took that cabbage and made cole slaw with it, which I shared at a Fourth of July picnic hosted by our friends Jim and Anita. I recount these mundane facts because they lead up to the following interchange between myself and our friends, who, by the way, are successful vegetable and fruit gardeners themselves. In fact, the example of Jim and Anita's garden was a direct inspiration of my own humble efforts in the dirt.
As I served up the cole slaw and enjoyed receiving the compliments, I couldn't help making the Proud Gardener's Comment that it came from our own garden (along with the onions).
"Really?! You were able to grow cabbage?!"
"Well, they were small, but yes we had a few...." I answered sheepishly. You see, we live in Sacramento, where the summer temperatures are regularly in the high nineties or even low 100's (though not so much this year, blessedly). One simply doesn't plant cabbages in the summer. But One (OK, my husband) sometimes buys cabbage seedlings because One finds them on sale next to the tomatoes and peppers and onions and One buys them anyway.
Then One's wife, not knowing better herself, makes cole slaw with it.
There is a lesson, here, People. The kind of lesson One learns by tending a garden, and that is: Nature will often find a way despite human ignorance and stupidity. Because Nature loves to call our bluff.
But next time I'll plant cabbages in the cool spring months or in the late summer, when the heads will mature during the cooler months. Although One can never be too sure about cabbages.
We grew lemon cucumbers in our first-ever kitchen garden this year. These cucumbers are round and yellow (hence the name) and taste like the familiar long green cucumbers: crisp, cool and juicy. Mostly we have chopped them into salads or served them along side a plate of sliced fresh tomatoes. Now that the summer growing season is ending, I am looking for ways to extend and vary the use of the cucumbers. This recipe for pickles is just the thing: Quick and easy, and meant to be enjoyed for a few short weeks (if they last that long) rather than "put up" for long term storage. The recipe is based on Alton Brown's "Kinda Sorta Sours", with my modifications noted.
CUCUMBER PICKLE RECIPE
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (we used lemon cucumbers and green ones)
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (Note: we didn't have any, so I used white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup sugar (Note: I used far less--maybe a tablespoon? and it was great)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon pickling spice
4 garlic cloves, smashed
Place the sliced onions and cucumbers in alternating layers in a clean spring-top jar.
Combine all other ingredients except the garlic in a non-reactive (stainless steel, glass--not aluminum) saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for four minutes.
Add the garlic cloves to the jar. Slowly and gently pour the hot pickling liquid over the vegetables in the jar, filling to the top of the jar.
Cool to room temperature, top off with any remaining liquid and refrigerate.
The tomatoes from our garden have been simply delicious. Often we enjoy them as an appetizer that can stand up on its own as dinner, as in this traditional manner with fresh mozzarella, garnished with basil (also from our garden) and sprinkled with a hint of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So simple and so good!
The last three Saturdays I have taken pictures while at the Farmer's Market, but I haven't gotten around to sharing them here. It's hard to choose my favorites, but I'll just have to get over it and get to it! So stay tuned (and patient) and I promise I'll get them here soon. This morning I got to the market later than usual, and ran into my dear friend Kathy, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. She was also at the market later than her usual time, so we felt it was a bit of Fate at hand. We'll be getting together for more visiting soon, no doubt.
The morning air was a tad chilly today, and I can sense the seasonal changes in the wings. The market still bustles with people and bursts with produce, but it still feels like the tempo is beginning to slow down. I think I'm ready.
This past weekend my husband Jim and I gleaned much of the fruit from our Fuyu persimmon tree. They are just under ripe, but if we wait much longer the squirrels and birds will eat or nibble on them. My husband and I discussed whether or not we should leave some of the partially eaten ones there for the critters. Is that a good idea, or will it promote disease in the tree? We don't know. We left the ones we couldn't reach anyway.
We will be sharing these with neighbors, eating them out of hand, and I will get busy with finding more ways to cook with them. They are so delicious, it is hard to wait while they ripen up a bit more. I did use some in my Pumpkin Persimmon Parfait (see my last post)!
I have created a new category here in the food blog, called "Home grown", and this is where I will share news about food items that come from our own garden. I have always aspired to have a kitchen garden, and we have Big Plans to put in a vegetable patch and maybe even a grape arbor. For now, we will enjoy the existing fruit and breathe a prayer of thanks. A tree full of fruit is a beautiful thing.