easy to harvest

Zucchini and Squash a plenty!

 

Nothing says summer like zucchini and squash.   Warm weather, plenty of water and you’ll have more zucchini and squash than you know what to do with!   My son and I went out to harvest last evening and boy did we find some doozies.  Always eager to rummage through the plants, he was eager to pull and pick and beam with pleasure over a job well done.  When he found this fat boy he could barely contain himself.  “Look at this one, mom!  It’s a monster!”

While I don’t like to equate my beautiful produce with monsters, I had to agree with him.  

Apparently I missed this one on my evening stroll the evening before, otherwise I would have grabbed it.  Something tells me you’re not supposed to let them grow this large — might toughen the taste — but since I’m no expert and don’t know for sure, I oohed and aahed like any good mother would.   “Wow.   See what you grew?”  Any encouragement while he’s in the garden is a good idea, as it helps overcome the protests to weeding.  “How awesome!” 

Pleased with himself, he continued his harvest and filled his basket.  Note of caution: when harvesting zucchini, be careful of sharp objects, namely fingernails.  Adjusting my zucchini and squash in the basket for photos, I must have scarred my harvest a dozen times.   (Who knew?)

Now, YOU do.  Go easy on the squash family.  You’ll be glad you did. 

“One more thing,” I told him.  “We need more peppers for Daddy.”

Taking the corner with skill and speed (the kind that makes me nervous when zipping down garden aisles),  he was distracted by a ripe cucumber.  “Hey Mom, the cucumbers are ready!”  Without hesitation, he yanked it from the vine and held it out for my inspection. 

“You’re getting pretty good at this harvest thing, aren’t  you?”

Of course he was, and with an added boost to his measure, he pulled out another one.  When  I saw him heading for a large cucumber still half ripe, I warned him off.  “That one’s not ready, yet.”

He turned and looked at me queerly.  “I know that.  It’s still yellow.”

I smiled.  Of course.  I should have known.  When a child spends a lot of time in the garden, they come to understand these things.  My kids can even recognize plants by their leaves.  Some plants are easy, like corn and watermelon, but while tomatoes and potatoes resemble one another, they are different and my two can tell the difference.  It makes a momma proud.

Collecting the last of our wax peppers, we headed into the house, specifically the kitchen.  Tonight would be busy.  My daughter was making homemade chocolate frosting; a recipe she found while perusing a magazine at the dentist’s office.  When the hygienist called her back, I was given the assignment to copy down the recipe and NOT miss a word.  “I want to make that tonight!” 

Of course you do, I thought, praying she wouldn’t come back with a cavity report, dutifully following my instructions.  And what do you know, half hour later, recipe securely copied into my iphone, both children came back cavity-free.   Do the ironies ever cease?

So she made her frosting, I tried a new recipe from my Cuisine at Home magazine for Onions au Gratin (which was fabulous), and we sautéed our fresh zucchini alongside the chicken strips.  Does it get any better?

Sustainability!

Almost.   My son and I prepared our first batch of black beans for dinner.   We followed the traditional method of soaking before cooking.   Actually, we boiled them for 2 minutes first, and then soaked them for about six hours.   And if we hadn’t been so excited about cooking our first batch of beans, we would have realized our mistake.

“We need one cup of beans,” I told him, to which he vigorously responded by dumping the entire container of beans into the measuring cup.   “No, no!” I exclaimed as beans scattered across the floor.   “Make a funnel with your hands, like this–” whereby I demonstrated how to guide the beans into the awaiting cup.

He dipped his head into the container with the remaining beans, peering at them closely.  “What do we do with these?”

Spying the small amount, I decided, “Aw…go ahead and add them.   We can put more water in the pot, no problem!”

We were so excited at the prospect of preparing our own garden’s beans for dinner, we thought of nothing else as we turned up the heat and watched our babies come to a boil.

“Do we have to have chicken, Mom?”

I gazed down into my seven-year-old’s eyes, eyes flowing with disappointment and replied,  “But you love chicken and yellow rice with black beans.”   (It really is delicious — see for yourself on my recipe section)  “It’s one of your favorites.”

“No,” he shook his head.   “I don’t like chicken anymore.  Or yellow rice.”   He made a so-so gesture with his hand.  “I kinda prefer white.”

“Anymore?  Since when?  Thursday?”   (I swear, my kids are more finnicky than cats.)

“Since whenever,” he said, as though I were unable to comprehend this simple concept.

Suddenly, caught between his changing appetite and the likelihood of whether or not I had white rice in the pantry, it dawned on me as I stared at the pot of boiling beans.  “Oh no!”   

Alarmed, he asked, “What happened, Mom?”

I turned to him and couldn’t help but laugh.  “We forgot to save some beans!”

“So?  It’s okay.  We can eat them all tonight.”  (Sweet love child that he is, he doesn’t like it when I’m upset.   Unless of course, he’s the cause.

“No, baby.”  I shook my head and smiled.  “We forgot to save some for re-planting in the garden.”

Apprehension lit up in his eyes.  “Oh…”  he said.  His gaze flashed to the hot pot of beans.   “What will we do?”

In the old days, this is where the black and white movie takes a horribly sad turn.   Uncle Ed and Aunt Mary are forlorn.  No beans to plant?  Ethel May is stricken.    What ever will we do?

Nowadays?  We go online and order more beans!  That’s what we do.

And be grateful for the ability.  A mistake like this on the prairie could have jeopardized the family’s survival, but not today, so if you’re like me and LOVE black beans, hurry!  Now is the time for planting.  Black beans are easy to grow, easy to harvest and easy to shell.  Why, even a kid could do it!  (And does, in our family.)  Beans are one of the easiest plants to sustain in your garden, so long as you remember your goal of sustainability and save some for the dirt!

p.s.  I would have taken pictures of our lovely batch of beans, but we were much too excited to even think of a photo shoot.