Monday, July 26, 2010

going green

What is this you ask?
Well, let me start by saying that I love summer.  I love evening walks, Grotto pizza at the beach (only at the beach, in upstate DE it's not the same), opening all of the windows at night, sunkissed skin, hearing the neighborhood kids yell out for customers for their Lemonade stand, and finding creative ways to cool down.  Of all of the great things summer has to offer, treats from the garden make the whole season a daily adventure in taste.
Last year I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Anyone who reads this book and isn't inspired to bite into some fresh locally grown strawberries needs to go through some serious junk food detox program. Her project was a big one - a whole year of eating local.  As a family, they grew much of their food, but made a commitment to consume only the foods that had been grown within 100 miles of their home. Since her book was released, she has brought a great deal of attention to the benefits of being mindful about where your food comes from and supporting local farmers. I realize that "going green" is the very trendy thing to do right now, but my parents had it right.  Throughout the summer months we always had corn on the cob and cantelope on the table along with some fresh vegetables from our garden.  Although I didn't always appreciate it at the time, I get it now.  I don't believe I am a sucker for trends, but I have innately been on the bandwagon.
I haven't quite mastered a garden, but we have done a great job of supporting our local farmers market.  Buying fresh vegetables is a great excuse to try new recipes and makes me proud of who and what we are supporting.  If you're not in to reading, Barbara Kingsolver's book is a wonderful reference for some recipes.  At the end of each chapter she has some great recipes that highlight foods at the prime of their season. 
When I got a hold of some basil this weekend from family in DE, I was excited to finally have an excuse to make some pesto.  I have a great bunch growing in our backyard, but this was all picked and ready to go.  I used this recipe from Food Network because it was simple and straightforward.  Basil is a staple at each of our summer meals.  Most nights it is the key part of our tomato/basil/mozzerella salad, but the pesto gives us other options.  I froze most of the it and I am excited to create some new recipes with the results.
Julia's current favorite summer food are blueberries.  She calls them "blue" and makes the sign for more whenever they are within eyesight.  Lately, she likes to eat them 2 at a time, one in each corner of her cheek. We are a little concerned that she is going to turn into a "blue" like the girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 
She eats a lot of blue.
That concern is a small one. 
I'm just glad that she's happily enjoying the fruit of the season and is an adventurous eater - she gets that quality from her daddy!  We will work on her love for more vegetables in the fall, but for now, she very content with the sweet stuff.
If you are like me and planting a garden seems like a daunting task, start small.  Plant some herbs that you can use in some of your dishes and work your way up from there.  Each dish will taste a bit more "home cooked" with ingredients that you've grown on your own.  And, it is always important to buy local - sometimes the hardest part of doing that is trying to help your husband understand why Twinkies aren't the best option just because they are on sale for $1 at the store. 
Charles won't always admit it, but he's jumped on that Green, local, organic bandwagon too. 
He claims that we are raising a free range child when he comments on all of her organic treats. 
Free range is a term that fits her very well at this stage.

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