Fresh Grown Dinner
Last night was steamy hot. Central Iowa temperatures had hit 90 F, and the sun was shining well on past 8 pm. Heat and humidity tend to put a damper on my appetite, but luckily I had stopped by the garden plot on my way home from work to do some weeding, and discovered the first batches of sweet lettuces and heirloom radishes were ready for harvest.
A quick rummage through the refrigerator turned up a sweet, red, bell pepper and a jar of pickled peperoncini, which balanced nicely with the earthy, spicy radish and tender lettuce. I tossed in some shredded basil from my window-sill container garden, too. My favorite salad dressing is so easy to make the instructions hardly deserve to be called a “recipe.” A shot of olive oil, a shot of balsamic vinegar, and a generous squeeze of spicy brown mustard, all whisked into a smooth emulsion. (Add more mustard if it doesn’t thicken to your liking with the first whisking.) Spicy brown mustard is the kind I always have on hand, but any kind of mustard will work — Dijon, honey-mustard, probably even that scary bright yellow stuff that I only eat at ball games.
Growing vegetables never ceases to thrill me — eating the harvest from my own garden takes me back to childhood, and the magic of snacking on cherry tomatoes right off the vine in my mom’s garden. Like most Americans, I live a life too cut-off from the sources of our food. Summertime gardening restores my respect and gratitude for the life-giving bounty the earth provides when tended thoughtfully and with care.