The Garden Produces a Dinner

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's getting to be that time of year for many gardening addicts in Northern California. It's that time where you've tended the garden so much, that it now starts to tend to YOU.

Last night, our garden provided this dinner for us. It's the first full dinner of the summer season using summer produce, but obviously not the last.

Every item in this stir-fry dinner, with the exception of the chicken of course, came fresh-picked from the garden. What you see to your left is the result of hours of work, hours of planting, hours of tending and about ten minutes worth of harvesting.

Venus celebrated her birthday this past evening -- and rather than go out -- her birthday wish was for a green curry dish utilizing everything fresh from the backyard garden. We also could have used tomatoes, but green curry and tomatoes just don't mix.

Not many asian dishes use tomatoes as a featured item. I'm told, by one friend who grew up in Vietnam, that tomatoes do not grow well in southeast Asia, therefore they are not a staple of the local diet.

Cooking a green curry dish like this one is always an adventure. This one was no different. First off, Venus and I aren't quite good enough yet to make our own green curry mixture. So, we rely on the pre-mixed Mai Ploy brand (one of the best) and some coconut milk to get the job done.

Why is this such an adventure? Well -- one look at this VERY blurry photo to your right will tell half the story. And you run into this kind of roadblock quite often whenever you attempt to re-create a dish from your favorite Thai or Vietnamese restaurant.

I always want to know how much of a particular spice or mixed spices I should use in any creation, so I always rely on the "serving suggestion" advice that is posted on most jars. True enough, there are the words clearly printed in English: Serving Suggestion.

Unfortunately, the suggestions are all in Vietnamese.

I may be a good cook, but I haven't gotten around to learning Vietnamese quite yet. Sadly, the wife hasn't yet either. She does trump me on foriegn languages though, as she CAN read, write and speak Spanish.

But, even Spanish fluency doesn't mean you can translate instructions printed in Vietnamese. Sorry, but we were out luck.

No matter. This is what guessing is for. The dinner is all about the fresh ingredients, not the green curry.

The greens in this fabulous bowl include a couple of bell peppers chopped into bite sized chunks, some very large bush beans (including a variety that is quickly becoming one of my favorites: Dragon's Tongue), some Bok Choy, freshly harvested basil and a GINORMOUS Asian Eggplant.

I'm normally not a huge fan of eggplant. I can take it or leave it on the vegetable front. I'm just not wild about it. BUT -- put some eggplant in a Thai or Vietnamese dish? Suddenly, I can't get enough of the stuff. There's something about eggplant drowning in a dish of green or red curry that brings out a special kind of taste.

To put it short and sweet, everything in last night's dinner was a favorite from the garden. Although the peppers are still probably another month away from peak production, the same cannot be said about the bush beans. These things grow overnight.

This is our first year growing bush beans. I've been told that they are not as productive as pole beans. But, whomever told me that must be a liar, because we suddenly have far more bush beans than we know what to do with. I'm almost afraid to go home tonight, because I might be attacked by a bush bean.

These things are prolific.

Although Venus would have no problem with a meatless stir-fry -- I still haven't reached that stage of vegetarian nirvana. I may never get there. And before you criticize, remember this: My diet once consisted of Western Bacon Cheeseburgers, french fries and a large coke -- supersized at that. So, believe me, I'm doing a lot better in my mid 40's with boneless, skinless, chicken breasts.

Meal prep is the hardest part of this creation. Once everything is chopped up and mixed, you can cook everything up with a nice side of rice in 15 minutes or less. And, yes, because we experimented with the green curry, the meal did come out a TAD HOT.

Just a tad though. Do you know what the nice thing about eating hot meals is? It takes awhile to eat. And you get full -- which means you wind up eating a lot less.

Not to worry though. This fresh-from-the-garden creation made for a tasty lunch the very next day.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

What a coinkydink. I'm gonna be making tomato beef stir fry tonight. It's how my mum taught me so I'm gonna go ahead and call it authentic Chinese. It consists of mixing ground beef with pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and water until it because beef goop. Stir fry that until almost done, then add tomatoes and green onions. And usually more soy sauce. And more pepper. And a corn starch slurry to thicken.

Or you can follow the recipe below