6/29/09

The Good Earth and Fresh Vegetables

Veggies for Sale

For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
1 Corinthians 10:26

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17

It’s that time of year again. Gardens are beginning to “come in!” Farmers are starting to set-up on the town square early each morning, and friends and neighbors are beginning to share their bounty. Nancy, a sweet co-worker of Larry’s, brought us a big head of cabbage and a large “mess” of green beans from her garden late last week. Saturday morning, Larry and I stopped by the square and bought fresh tomatoes and squash.

We always had a large garden when I was growing up. I hated the work, but loved the harvest. My parents both grew up as farmers’ children. They would never have dreamed of not planting a garden. My daddy has a real love for “the land.” Much like Pearl S. Buck’s Wang Lung, the main character from one of my favorite novels, The Good Earth, my daddy has made a living for himself and his family by working the land, in one fashion or another, for all of his life. He made a career of highway construction, working himself up from a boy of 18 driving the water truck to being an indispensable head superintendent for the company he worked for, for decades. While some of the company’s foremen specialized in building bridges and pouring pavement, my daddy made a career of moving dirt. I am fairly sure he has probably forgotten more about utilizing large loads of the earth to construct our state’s highways than most people will ever know. While his construction job kept groceries on the table and clothes on our backs, our land always provided that "little extra income" we all seem to need. Daddy was never a full-time farmer, but we always had land that was farmed - either by renting it to other farmers, or as part-time work for ourselves. I kid that it wasn’t scholarships, grants or student loans that paid my college tuition. It was soybeans!

I am expecting my daddy to drive up any day now with buckets of tomatoes and bags of okra and squash. As he leaves, he’ll look around my backyard and say, “Hon, y’all just ain’t got a good place for a garden, do you?” I’ll agree, and he’ll suggest we consider planting a few tomato plants in pots next year. I suspect he has long accepted that I’m probably never going to plant tomatoes in pots, or anywhere else, for that matter. The truth is, he really doesn’t care if Larry and I plant tomatoes, or not. After all, if we did, who would help him eat his. But, “the country boy in him” feels it’s his fatherly duty to make the annual suggestion anyway. Bless his heart, I know it must be a great mystery to a man like my daddy, who cherishes living on his multiple, rural acreage, how he managed to raise a daughter who is content to live on a postage stamp-sized piece of land in town!

For lunch yesterday, I made Baked Chicken Casserole, Green Beans with Bacon and Onions, Squash Casserole, and Fresh Cabbage Slaw with Homegrown Tomatoes. Aunt Jean provided fresh sour dough rolls!


"Before"

"After"


Baked Chicken Casserole

This was from Saturday’s menu. Since we were out-of-town on Saturday, I made it for Sunday's Lunch.

3 cups cooked chicken
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup diced celery
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. each of salt and pepper
2 tsp. grated onion
1 small can mushrooms
2 cans of cream of chicken soup

Mix all together and pour into casserole dish. Top with Ritz crackers. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Original Note from Connie: Since the kids and Larry aren't terribly fond of celery, I'll probably slip just a bit of it into this dish by using 1 can mushroom soup, 1 can chicken soup and 1 can celery soup. They'll never know!

Post-cooking note from Connie: M.C. found the minuscule pieces of celery from the soup and picked every tiny bit out! I guess I'm not as sly as I though!

Green Beans with Bacon and Onions

I used Nancy’s fresh green beans instead of the canned green bean in the original recipe from Saturday. I made the adjustments for using fresh green beans in this recipe:

6 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 - 6 cups fresh green beans, steams removed and beans broken into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté bacon and onions in a cast iron Dutch oven or large saucepan, until bacon is crisp.

Add green beans, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover all with water. Simmer until liquid is evaporated. The loner you cook these, the better they’ll be. I cooked mine in my cast iron Dutch oven.

Squash Casserole

I pretty much made this up as I went along yesterday. We all liked it fairly well!

Make a small pan of cornbread. Cool and crumble. You will need two cups of crumbs.

Place about 2 pounds of yellow squash in a boiler. Cover with water, cook until tender, and drain.

Combine cooked squash, cornbread crumbs, ¾ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup cheddar cheese, ½ cup milk, a dash or two of hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.


Fresh Cabbage Slaw with Homegrown Tomatoes

I used Nancy's cabbage to make Fresh Cabbage Slaw with Homegrown Tomatoes. This was always one of the first dishes my momma prepared from our garden every year. I don’t know if other people make this slaw, or not. It’s just one of those things we always had growing up. Many thanks for the cabbage and green beans, Nancy!! They were a treat!!

Chop about 4 cups of fresh cabbage. Peel and dice a homegrown tomato, or two.
Combine with desired amount of mayonnaise. Liberally add salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


1 comment:

  1. Ms. Connie, that looks so YUMMY. I can't wait to make that casserole. I thought of you today, you inspired me to put up a pound cake recipe I have been making a lot lately. Use it if you need a dessert anytime soon!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing! I love comments!