John Bell, gardener extraordinaire, shared bounty from his garden and taught us how to make basil pesto and pico de gallo -simple recipes that taste like summer. The smell of the pesto alone, made our mouths water.
While eating, we acknowledged the two year anniversary of the solidarity singers getting arrested at the capitol. (can you imagine? getting arrested for singing?)) John, a proud member of the group, wore his cap and led us in a rousing rendition of solidarity forever. Andy performed a “Christmas in July” song on his guitar and Carol instigated a game of catch with Steve, using a gorgeous purple striped eggplant- just about the size of a baseball. We learned that Steve has a pretty serious pitching arm. The game of catch was funny but it felt sacrilegious to toss around such a beautiful specimen from the garden.
Kenna shared baked kale chips. Though most enjoyed them, not everyone found them to their liking. Edward bravely bit in to a crispy dark leaf only to place it politely on his plate, a grimace on his face. Kale chips can be an acquired taste.
Laura picked copious cucumbers and laid them on the table like little soldiers. They were later passed around the group to be taken home to fresh salads. The produce table consisted of other delicacies as well, a few ripe tomatoes. I’ll call them tantalizing- tomatoes for their freshness. There is absolutely nothing in the whole world like biting in to the first vine ripened tomato of the season!
Doug picked J’appy J’alepeno’s ( pronounced Happy Halepeno’s) . These dark green souls were distributed to the group with a warning! A lesson Doug learned a few years ago when he sliced up hot peppers. WARNING: When slicing hot peppers wear gloves, or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly so as not to be hurt by a Jalapeno!
Back to the eggplants; Ken tenderly plucked them from the vine- an edifying experience. Edifying- eggplant simply because it is one of the more beautiful and tasty vegetables produced in the garden. It feels sinful to cut one open. Zoe revealed that she loves eggplant parmesan so perhaps she will share her recipe with us on this blog. (hint, hint)
John showed us a large cilantro plant that he harvested from his garden and explained how the pungent leaves can be used in cooking as well as the seeds which turn in to coriander. (Two completely different flavors) Its Curious how this works- curious – coriander, crunchy and complex. The sensuous -cilantro creates a warming effect when eaten in spicy pico de gallo. Amore!
Dill let us not forget the abundant Dill! One can count on dill to do its duty. Dutiful- Dill. Not only is it critical to pickles but it makes a lovely cut flower for a bouquet, like the one Ken and Miriam picked for Ken’s birthday. Another lovely flower blooming in the garden is the bright blue bachelor buttons. Kate and Sarah dead headed the old blooms so they would not go to seed. Poor guys!
Andy decided that watering just the garden was not as much fun as watering the gardeners so Kate, Sarah and I exited quickly to the left. Watering is critical and the garden was dry. Jo Jo watered the tree in the back 40 with Todd, while Steve watered the raised bed garden.
Marge M. had a beautiful shirt appliqued with colorful flowers. She looked like part of the surroundings. Marge P. wore a beautiful sunny yellow shirt that brought one to mind of sunshine. Who else was there? Cathy, Rebecca, Angie, Yvon, Shelly, Pat, Julie, Alex, Sarah, Kate, Rory, Ann, Nicole, Mimi…..
Pat took home the lone beet that had been plucked from the earth. Like the song says “one is the loneliest number” and no one else seemed to want to claim it. I am curious how Pat prepared the solitary beet. (Perhaps she will tell us)
As we were packing up and getting ready to leave, Marge, Shelly and Edward identified the tree planted between the sidewalk and the street. Its pods were intriguing and contained electric green seed pods. Shelly, being the resourceful gardener that she is, pulled out her smart phone and googled the tree. We learned that it is a Kentucky coffee tree and that Native Americans roasted the seeds and ground them for a coffee like substance. WARNING! The seeds in their natural state- before roasting- are Toxic! It’s a good thing I did not bite into one.
Forgive me if I left anyone out. Everyone who participates in Gardening 4 Good is essential to the community. I think that is why we are all so happy to be there! (or should I say J’appy)