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Food

The Vegetable Garden

In today’s world of mass-market food fluff there is a small blip on the radar. That blip is the vegetable garden. If done right, a small garden can provide a wonderful service to our budget as well as a fresh and healthy taste to our palette.

It isn’t an instant thing, however. A large number of us (myself included) grew up thinking that the only healthy food came from cans, boxes and restaurants. When confronted with plants covered in squash, tomatoes, peppers we wonder just how do we transform these things into the products we are accustomed to?

The fact is, in a lot of cases we can’t unless we want to spend more on specialized equipment and high-fructose corn syrup than the item is worth! Instead we have to learn other ways of eating our food.

I remember the first year my parents put out a garden. I helped plant, weed and harvest but when it came to the actual eating of the food I balked.

“Daad,” I whined. “I can’t eat that stuff. It’s not sanitary!“

My father was at a loss until he realized my dilemma: I had been taught that in order to make food safe it had to be processed just so by the manufacturers. He solved the issue by pulling up a carrot, dusting it off and taking a bite before offering it to me.

It still took well into adulthood for me to realize the whole world fresh vegetables could open.

If you have a grill, then you are ahead of the game. Instead of concentrating on meats when you grill out, why not add some vegetables to the mix?

Squash, zucchini, peppers and other vegetables can be grilled easily. Just slice, coat with olive oil and grill. The flavor experience is one you won’t forget.

Another simple way to grill vegetables is to slice whatever vegetables you have – squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, carrots, potatoes – just whatever and place them in an aluminum foil pouch with butter and a generous sprinkling of Italian seasoning. Close the pouch and grill for fifteen to 20 minutes depending upon the size of the pouch for a heavenly veggie treat. My picky ten year old loves when I fix vegetables in this manner! Experiment with different seasonings for a wonderful treat!

If you have tomatoes try a southern classic: fried green tomatoes. Slice some green tomatoes thin (1/4 inch or so thick), rinse and dip in some milk. Then take the slices and coat them with a half and half mixture of cornmeal and flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and fry in a skillet with oil (or a deep fryer if you have one) for a couple of minutes or until done.

If you have a surplus of vegetables, try dehydrating them to use in soups and stews during the winter. It doesn’t take a lot of preparation and they make for a real treat in the winter.

For more recipes, check out the following websites.

Here is a website that covers tomatoes from planting to harvest and beyond. It contains multiple recipes for use and preservation of this wonderful fruit.

This website gives one various recipes for the wonderful sweet or bell pepper.

Here also is a site covering summer squash and zucchini.

I hope these tips will help you to lead a simpler life by reducing the path food takes to reach your table.

Happy eating!