Nothing like having a gig when your lead singer is out of the country!’ I’m not usually a lead singer, but we had to go on with the show, and though I still maintain a person who sings and plays an instrument should be paid twice, my band mates have left me waiting for my second half. With a couple of rehearsals under our belts, we showed up and we gave an energetic and dynamic show. I started the night with a really strong voice, but by the end of the night, I was barely able to whisper – I can tell you this is one guy thrilled to have the lead singer back before the next gig.
The only thing better than a good free concert, may be some tasty home grown goodies. I may be out of my league offering recipes, when there are apparently so many great chefs on the flat screen (I wouldn’t know, I tossed out my TV ten years ago), but hey if I can sing lead in a pinch I can tell you how to increase your table delights maybe at least two-fold, by putting more of yourself into the process. If you’ve been growing some of your own food, it’s time to cut your food bill. There is no better eating on the planet and with the prices we’re seeing in the market, here are some suggestions to shave a few dollars off your food bill with what you have in your garden or can get from your local farmers’ markets.
Summer’s bounty is upon us now until late September, early October, so learn how to deal with it and enjoy it on into the winter months. This ‘saving summer’s bounty’ harks back to the days when people took care of almost all of their food needs through their gardens and home fruit trees. Today with freezers, we can do better than they did with a lot less work!
A couple of rows of green beans will produce 20 pounds or more of beans. You still have time to plant them – and even if you don’t, at the peak of harvest time, you can score freshly picked beans at the farmers market for a ‘song.’ These beans can be frozen in single serving (or double serving) sizes to keep you beans on hand.
Basil? Sure! Keep pinching basil plants back all summer. Each stem, once it has two pair of leaves will begin to produce flowers. If allowed to bloom and set seed, the plant will die, so you must constantly pinch the flowers off – and you can take a pair of leaves too. Use this bounty in salads through out the summer. Your pinching will reward you with a large bushy plant by August or September, then harvest whole plants and use a food processor (or mortar and pestle, if you are so inclined) to make pesto. If you end up with several jars of the stuff, freeze the excess and enjoy it on into the winter. And don’t forget to put some in a few stems into a bouquet when our asked to dine at someone else’s house. It really is a handsome plant.
Have you checked out the price of sun dried tomatoes at Whole Foods or Ralph’s? They rival gas at the pump. Here’s a delicious alternative. Tomatoes are easy to preserve. Slice them in half, easily remove the core and lay them in a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. A pinch of salt and pepper, lay on some bits of basil leaves, perhaps some other herbs that strike your fancy and roast them. Once cooled out of the oven, throw the roasted tomatoes into a blender or a food processor and whizz them up. Package the whizzins, one cup or so each, into plastic bags and freeze – you’ll have marinara sauce for pizza or pasta for the cool months.
Fresh fruits can be frozen, after being cut into bite sized chunks, or turned into preserves with just a bit of effort. I’ve been very happy with spicy plum preserves that I’ve made for several years. I made mango jam last year in eight ounce jars that turned out to be ‘single-serving’ jars because once I opened it, the jam was so good, I would nibble at it until the jar was empty. Peaches, apricots and strawberries can be turned into delightful preserves without a lot of trouble or special equipment. A quick Google search will net you a lot of potential recipes, or look into Preserving The Taste by Edon Waycott (available used at Amazon) for some really delightful recipes and a very thorough how-to guide to get you started.
Once you’ve done a batch or two of any one of my suggestions above, you’ll be making holiday gifts for family and friends for those times when we all get together and sing the traditional songs of our particular culture.
And no one is the lead singer.
Grandson of a Great Plains farmer, David King is the Garden Master at the Learning Garden, on the campus of Venice High School. He shares his love of the land and music through teaching, writing and playing in a folk/country band. Contact: email@example.com