Madison Monday: random thoughts

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– I’m in the mountains this week while our daughter goes to camp, which is wonderful. But it’s a little hard to leave the garden this time of year. I picked about four turning tomatoes just before I left. One of those was only barely ripe enough to be edible, but I ate it anyway. Desperate times and all.

Here’s the thing about serious gardening. You put a great deal of effort into the raising of the vegetables. Then you pick the vegetables. But then you really have to do something with the vegetables, because what was the point of raising them, otherwise? So then you cook the vegetables. And you do the dishes associated with the vegetables. It’s kind of a strange, endless cycle.

At any rate, before we left, I kicked into super-duper, use all available vegetables before we leave town mode. I made two loaves of zucchini bread to take on the road. I roasted and then froze all the eggplant that I could pick. Then I did some fridge pickles with the cucumbers.

I also planted a second wave in the garden, which will hopefully be up and going strong when we get home.

The fried okra, which as you can see, is almost gone.

The fried okra, which as you can see, is almost gone.

– Part of my gardening (and cooking) inspiration this year has come from watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s British television series, Escape to River Cottage. Hugh, a former London chef, becomes a Dorset downsizer, which means he moves to the country to try and make a go of growing his own food. Much hilarity (British-style) ensues. In my personal favorite episode, Hugh becomes the fox to a group of English hunters in exchange for hay for his livestock. Imagine a bespectacled, long-haired Englishman running across the countryside in shorts being chased by hounds and people in full, English hunting regalia.

From the show, I learned that while a courgette is a small zucchini, a marrow is an overgrown zucchini. Also that you can’t really grow tomatoes in England without a hoop house (or polytunnel, as they call it).

At any rate, it’s about the best thing I’ve watched in ages. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes cooking, gardening, or watching the English be very English.

– I had perhaps the best meal of my entire life at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina. Fried okra and chips with pimiento cheese dip appetizers. The fried okra was perfect, which is really no small feat. Then Misse’s Asheville Veggie Melt with a side of goat cheese grits and honey pickled beet salad. Accompanied by a Freak of Nature IPA from Wicked Weed Brewing. It was all divine. Like the kind of food that makes you seriously think to yourself, could I move here?

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