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I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This year, I planted a vegetable garden for the first time in many years. A few years of living in a condo with no space for a garden coupled with spending several years married to someone who stroked out at the mere thought of someone walking on his precious grass, let alone striking a shovel into the ground pretty much put my green thumb on the back burner.
But now I have my own yard and I can stomp on the grass if I want or I can dig up a corner of the back yard and plant a garden if I damn well please. And that is exactly what I did. My dear friend Chris spent an afternoon helping me till up the rock-hard ground and putting together a 4x4 raised garden bed that I bought from Home Depot ~ well, actually he did all the work and I watched because he had just
given me a lecture some friendly advice about needing to appear more vulnerable and alot less stubborn and independent. When all was said and done, I acted so pitiful and helpless that he ended up using some scrap lumber and maxing out my garden space. Is he awesome or what??

When I bought my plants back in the spring, I'll admit to being overly excited because it had been so long since I'd planned a garden. In hindsight, I'm thinking 5 eggplant plants were about 4 too many and now that I'm afraid that I'll be strangled in the middle of the night by one of my rogue yellow squash plants, I'll scale back to only one plant next year. I have serious thoughts of tossing squash into the car windows of passers-by just to get rid of them! Some of the veggies did exceptionally well while some weren't as plentiful as I had hoped and I grew broccoli for the first time ever. I'm looking so forward to researching things for a winter garden as I've never done that either. In the meantime, enjoy some quick and easy recipes that show off your garden bounty, starting with Panzanella. Panzanella is also an excellent way to use up leftover bread that may be lingering on your kitchen counter or taking up precious space in your freezer!


Panzanella Bread Salad Recipe
from Simplyrecipes.com

As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.

Ingredients:
4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes*
1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you don't have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.

Method:
Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.

Serve at room temperature.

Yield: Serves 6-8.

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1 comments:

gina said...

This is going on my must-make list for the weekend :)