Monday, July 11, 2005

I've Bean Thinking

After picking berries Saturday morning, I went out to my garden in the evening to inspect my vegetables' progress.

My raspberry canes actually have a small handful of berries developing... and I may be able to pick them in a couple of days! How sweet it is!

The tomato plants are all jumping right up and putting forth more tiny yellow blossoms, so I hope to see more dramatic developments there in a few weeks.

My cucumber plants are also displaying the first few tiny cucumbers... next stop, pickle season!

And wonder of wonders, I looked at my bean plants and realized that they were loaded with long, tender beans ripe for picking.

So I rang up the lovely Phoenix. "Would you be interested in helping me pick beans tomorrow morning and learning how to freeze them?" says I.

"You bet! What time?" she replied with great enthusiasm.

(This is what I love about having a cooking/gardening protegee... she looks at all these tasks that most other people would consider dull work, and she sees great fun.)

Around 10:30 Sunday morning, Phoenix stopped by to find me sitting in the garden, carefully probing each plant and plucking off quarts of perfect green beans. After I showed her how to handle the plants and what size beans to pick (and what to leave on the bushes), she started at the other end and met me somewhere in the middle. I think she especially enjoyed being out in the middle of the garden, surrounded by peace and a handful of bees buzzing around the enormous crop of borage.

We took the beans back inside and quickly went through the entire basket, snapping off the stem ends and leaving the beans whole otherwise while a big pot of water came to the boil. I showed her how to blanch the beans... three minutes in the boiling water, then drained and quickly dumped into ice cold water. And once the beans had cooled off, we packed them into plastic freezer bags, sucked out the air, and labeled them. (Yes, one does have Phoenix's name on it, so that she can claim it at a later date.)

This is one of the things I love about having my own garden... I get to fill the freezer with summer's bounty and enjoy it all winter long! Right now I have the strawberries and blueberries from the market and the fruit farm, these green beans, a couple of leftover pesto cubes from last year (which will soon be replaced with fresh), and ice cubes filled with parsley or with cilantro (to be used in stock or Indian cooking). And I have room for plenty more (which is a very good thing, as I will probably stock up on corn again this year!).

It makes me happy. And Phoenix?

She can't wait for the next garden adventure.

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