Hard Day, Easy Dinner

Sometimes, it's hard.

Not just hard work, which is no big deal. Today was not that (although it involved elbow grease, too.) More just a mistake-riddled, bad-luck-prone, exhaustion-inducing day.

First off, beginning to process the peaches took a lot longer than I thought. I cut myself, burned myself, and I still have cramps in my hands from peeling and pitting just the first five pounds of our big harvest. And then this happened while I was processing the jam:

One of the jars broke in half. See the bits of peaches floating in the water bath? That was super-fun to clean up. Also, I'm not sure if this jam even set up properly, after all that. More on this tomorrow.

In the midst of the canning madness, a crying child came home with this nasty gash down a shin:

The quarter is for reference — this is the shot I texted to Kirk to get an assessment of its suture-worthiness. In the end we decided to let Nurse Dad patch it up with Steri-Strips when he got home from work. He might have a scar, but it’s ultimately not worth an ER trip for two stitches. Lots of (understandable) crying, especially when I had to clean it. At least this injury is proof of a fun childhood — one apparently filled with rope swings in the woods. Crazy rope swings that slam you into trees, but hey. That's freedom for you.

Other irritations: a backordered faucet with a side of terrible customer service, scheduling problems at work (note: I am not paid to work in July and August, so I'm basically donating my time to try to fix it), and a backed-up kitchen sink thanks to an intermittently functioning garbage disposal. 

No cooking for dinner, thank you very much.

But an easy, delicious, and stress-free dinner from the summer garden? Finger sandwich platter:

Working from the top and moving clockwise:

Cucumber Tea Sandwich
Plain cream cheese and cucumber on rye, seasoned with chopped fresh dill and a pinch of salt and pepper. The rye makes all the difference, because rye and dill is heaven on earth.

Open-Faced Caprese
Lightly toasted baguette slices brushed with olive oil. Layer with tomato slice (first tomato of the year, btw!), basil leaf, and fresh mozzarella slice. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Cheddar Bacon Mushroom Burger
This isn't from the garden, but was a good use of leftover bits in the fridge. Fry up a slice of bacon and remove to a paper towel, then use the grease to fry up a chopped shiitake. To reheat the leftover burger (originally grilled outside over charcoal), I gave it a swirl in the bacon grease on both sides before putting it in the oven in a small cast iron pan. The bacon grease was to keep it from drying out during its reheat and extra time under the broiler to melt the cheddar. Put it on a toasted sesame seed bun and top with bacon and mushrooms. (I had to cut it in thirds to share.)

Roasted Beet and Bleu
It takes an hour to roast a beet or two, but you don't have to do anything beyond giving it a drizzle of olive oil and wrapping it in foil before throwing it in a 400 degree oven. The skin slips right off once it's cool, and all that's left is to slice it thinly. The sandwich is just beet slices and bleu cheese crumbles on a rosemary sourdough. Rosemary and beet is a great flavor combination, and one that will last well into the fall in the garden.


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