Summertime And The Livin’s Easy

This is my favorite time of year, foodwise. Preparing healthy meals is never easier than it is in midsummer when the garden and orchard are in full swing and everyone’s in the mood for light fare.

For breakfast this morning we polished off the last of the apricot crop, with the grain product of our choice on the side. I had granola, Elizabeth and Luke had cinnamon-raisin bagels. The plums are just beginning to turn color; I give them another two to four weeks before that feeding frenzy begins. Luckily we have one apple tree that ripens very early in the year, and while it’s still a month or so away from actual ripeness, its fruit has reached that tart/sweet green stage that’s not bad to munch on at all. So that’ll carry us from apricot season to plum season without total fruit deprivation.

Then there’s the berries. I have managed to produce actual blueberries this year, for the first time ever! Apparently the secret is to water them almost every day. Troublesome, but totally worth it when you pop one of those tangy little balls of goodness into your mouth. We also enjoyed homegrown raspberries and strawberries this year — yum!

Around noon I commented to the empty kitchen that a nice frosty milkshake sounded pretty good for lunch. Like magic, Elizabeth materialized out of thin air and began assembling ingredients. She has just recently mastered the art of making milkshakes, and fixes them for us almost every day.

Our recipe–

Add to blender:

About 1 cup frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or whatever you like. We use storebought organic, since our own production from the new plantings is still pretty small).

Two ripe bananas

16 oz vanilla yogurt

About 1/2 cup milk

Blend well. Pour into glasses that have been stored in the freezer. Makes three or four shakes, depending on the size of your glasses.

For supper I went down to the garden and filled a basket with everything that looked good: an onion, a bulb of garlic, a zucchini, two tomatoes, some swiss chard, some kale, some carrots. I cooked a pound of ground beef with salt, pepper, the onion and the garlic. When it was browned I added the rest of the veggies, all chopped into bite-size pieces. Simple but very tasty. This is the sort of meal that absolutely requires the use of fresh, just-picked veggies, or it won’t taste right.

Between the heat (and marital stress) dulling my appetite, and all the fresh produce I have been eating, my winter weight has been melting away pretty dramatically. This morning I weighed in at 118 lbs! I have not weighed 118 lbs since before my first pregnancy! I love my garden. 🙂 (The marital stress, not so much.)

I was supposed to plant cherry trees and blackberries this fall, but I think that’s going to be out of my budget this year. Especially since Julie has invited me to a five-day horse-camping trip next month up in San Luis Obispo with a bunch of her friends, and I can’t possibly say no to five days of riding, camping and girl talk. What’s another couple hundred dollars on the credit card for a good cause, right? The cherry trees will still be at the nursery next year. Or, you know, probably different cherry trees, but whatever.

Then there’s the grapes. We have eight grapevines, each a different variety that ripens at a slightly different time. So from late July/August to October it’s a nonstop grapefest. Mmmmm, grapes.

Someday when we sell this place I’m going to need half a dozen U-haul trucks just to transfer my orchard to my next home, because leaving it behind doesn’t even bear thinking about.

What? Thirty-year-old apple trees don’t transplant well? La la la la, I can’t heeeear you…..

Categories: Family, food, Gardening, kids, Life | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Summertime And The Livin’s Easy

  1. Don’t know where you are, but apricots are heavenly here, too. Followed by prickly pear fruit. . .what a great color!


  2. dsilkotch

    I’m in a high desert area (4000 ft elev) between Palm Springs and San Diego. We get a lot of late frosts in the spring, but piling horse manure around the trees’ roots seems generate enough heat to protect them; I haven’t lost an entire crop to frost in years.

    When I was a kid I loved prickly pear (it grows at the lower elevations around here)…I’d always end up with my hands full of stickers from trying to get at the fruit. Do you make jelly?


  3. I’m so glad she’s going camping!! Thank you.


  4. dsilkotch

    LOL! I’ll definitely have to bring some goodies with me when we go! I’ll pack a cooler! 🙂


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