Welcome to Hill Country Herbalist

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eating From The Summer Garden: Tomatoes & Okra!

I'm really enjoying the summer bounty here in the Hill Country Garden! I've been harvesting tomatoes, okra, basil, oregano, onions almost on a daily basis....so what's one to do? Well, here's one suggestion: tomato and okra summer simmer sizzle!  Name too long? Probably, but it pretty much describes this bright and savory dish.

I start by slicing heirloom black cherry and Juliet tomatoes and add them to a bit of olive oil warming up in a pan.  Then, I add salt, pepper, garlic and fresh crushed dried basil leaves.  (I like to harvest bundles of fresh basil and hang them upside down to air dry in my kitchen window - that way I just reach over and crush the dried aromatic herbs between my hands and sprinkle all over the dish I'm cooking....it's such a treat!). 

After the tomatoes begin simmering and releasing their juices, I add fresh sliced okra. Sprinkle in just a bit more salt and let simmer for a few minutes. 

Take a look at these amazing cayenne peppers! It was so fun harvesting these red hot beauties.  I'm always looking for ways to incorporate them in the dishes I'm making.  For this dish, I sliced one pepper and added to the tomato and okra mix.  They cook into the food so easily and by only using one, the dish gets more flavor rather than heat. 

     After a few minutes, the okra begins to cook and soften.

After a couple more minutes the tomatoes and okra are simmering and enjoying each other's company.  The tomatoes naturally add a tangy bright sauce making this dish a real treat for your taste buds. 

Now that the okra and tomatoes are ready to eat! Plate the dish and grab a fork and dig in! This is a great dish all on its own and it also goes extremely well with fried or baked chicken. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Corn Baby!

Greetings gardeners! I've missed you....I've been weeding, pruning and watering the veggie and herb garden in this nonstop Texas heat.  It's really a  big commitment and acceptance of the crazy heat in order to garden these days...it seems the only payoff is a dripping wet shirt and brow :/ 
Wait...that's not true..(the heat must have hurt my judgment).  The payoff is delicious tomatoes! Delicious cayenne peppers! and much much more!!

However, today...we are celebrating CORN!

This season, I've had my hand (for the first time) growing our nations very favorite food...corn. Specifically, I've been growing and nurturing organic
'marian jewels sweet corn'.  This unusual sweet corn produces yummy deep and hearty sweet corn with a dense rich purple cob (seeds certified organic by the Oregon Tilth). 

 As I nurtured and observed the marian jewels start maturing...I grew amazed by the deep purple stalks loaded with dangling cream pollen. 

The silky flowers begged to be pollinated and over the course of a few weeks, they were! Thank you bees!!

So, for about a month, I would feel how the corn was getting along....thin ears of corn grew more solid and hearty.  The more solid and full the better.   I just kept wondering what was inside!! I was so excited about the corn. 
 Then, one day...just yesterday, in fact...my curiosity drew to a close.  I harvested and I held my breath as I peeled back the purple jeweled leaves revealing amazing gorgeous corn!!  I did it!! I grew organic corn.  Who knew a former city dweller like me would eventually grow and enjoy her own corn? 
Well.....speaking of enjoying...So...I lightly steamed my corn... and took a cue from Rick Bayless....I added yummy homemade cream dressing with my own ground red peppers (from last year's jalapeno and red pepper harvest) and just dove in!!!


Enough said. 
Grow you're own food.  It's worth it.  And it's soo sooo So So GOOOD!!!!