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The end of summer is a bittersweet time for a vegetable garden. Many plants are ripe or ripening, while others still bravely put out blossoms, uncognizant of the coming frost that will put a halt to their reproductive attempts. Indeterminate tomatoes are the most tragic example of this, showing off their dainty little yellow flowers into October if weather allows.
Tomatoes are living proof of plucky optimism. “Winter is coming? I’ll believe it when I see it!”
In my garden still there are carrots, chard, overgrown bunching onions, zucchini, tomatillos, sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, baby watermelon, and a stalwart little eggplant.
For Foodbuzz’s monthly 24, 24, 24 event (24 meals by 24 bloggers in a 24 hour period), I chose to celebrate this last hurrah of the garden, at least in northern climes. The frost date for my area is September 25th, so the end of the month usually coincides with the end of the garden’s frost-tender plants, which is most of them.
The original plan was to host a meal. I know! I haven’t hosted a family meal at my place yet!
However, my nephew Justin’s birthday is September 25th, and Jennifer decided to throw his birthday celebration on the 26th — the day I was required to hold my 24, 24, 24 event. We decided I would provide several dishes based on summer’s last hurrah.
I made up two plates of sliced heirloom tomatoes, coleslaw, sliced beets, cucumber salad, and…apple pie vols-au-vent. All of the vegetables, herbs, and apples came from the garden or the yard!
The presentation may look a bit simple, but that’s on purpose. The goal was to showcase the bounty in as close to natural form as possible, so that you could taste the essence of their origins. For example, the beets have only a touch of butter, salt, and pepper on them, allowing their earthy sweetness to come through. The coleslaw puts forth cabbage in a sweet buttermilk dressing. The cucumbers are sliced thinly, tossed with dill, and dressed in sugar and vinegar. The tomatoes are simply sliced, and offered with salt and pepper or sugar.
Those of you who follow food blogging might recognize vols-au-vent as this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. Yep, I did the challenge, but I’ll be posting the results in a day or two. These apple pie filling-filled vols-au-vent were made with apples from my aunt’s tree across the road.
The tomatoes were pink (Sudduth’s) brandywine, eva purple, and black krim. The plate on the left is one pink brandywine.
Dad likes the tomatoes.
Maggie doesn’t really like tomatoes.
A closer look at the veggie dishes. Except for the beets. They tasted pretty awesome, but they photographed pretty crappy. No, I did not have the time to snap them in perfect light before taking everything over to Jennifer’s!
Jennifer and Denise in a totally unstaged, natural moment.
The birthday cake. I think Justin likes Pokemon. Just a hunch.
Justin versus the cake. Who will win? The suspense is killing me.
Oh, he wins. Whew.
Aren’t teenagers annoying?
I had a crazy time preparing everything Saturday. These dishes aren’t complicated, but there’s a bit more involved when you’re pulling things out of the garden.
Everything is dirtier, for one thing. I’d go out and get a basket of ingredients, beets, for example. Did you know they grow in the ground? Dirt clings to them! And the leaves — they have to come off! More mess.
Repeat the above like 20 times. Cabbage, dill, dying tomato plants, cucumbers, onion — for the coleslaw, and so on and so forth. Then clean it all. Cut it all. Grate, boil, slice, salt, roll, simmer, and bake it all. Oops, I’m complaining again. Sorry. Kind of.
Overall though, it was loads of fun and I’m so appreciative of Foodbuzz for sponsoring the 24, 24, 24 events. Check them out, and see what the other 23 24, 24, 24 bloggers did this month as well!