Sharing my garden with friends and family is one of the most
enjoyable parts of summer for me. This year, we've had beautiful warm evenings, so I invited some new friends over to
dinner. I planned a simple flavorful meal of baked chicken and
herbed potato salad easy to prepare in advance and delicious
warm, but not needing to be piping hot from the stove. We set up a
card table right alongside the garden beds, covered it with a bright
tablecloth and picked a pretty bouquet of flowers from the garden as
my guests arrived, we all went out and I gave them a colander and a
harvest basket. With my direction and encouragement, they all really
enjoyed snipping fresh lettuce and herbs for our first course salad.
It was a great icebreaker and gave everyone a chance to experience
the practical pleasures a kitchen garden can bring! Best of all,
that salad had a special savor because everyone had a hand in
selecting its ingredients and fixing it. Being right out in the
garden with the birds serenading us and the gentle sounds of a
summer evening made for a wonderful relaxing atmosphere with great
conversation... we really didn't need any other entertainment for
a fine night out!
When the weather really heats up and summer vegetables begin to ripen in
abundance, I love to fire up the BBQ to enjoy them for
quick weeknight patio picnics.
Grilled summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and onions take on
a very special nutty succulence when you cook them over the coals.
Best of all, they are easy to prepare and really complete a simple
summer supper served along with barbecued chicken, fish or burgers.
Renee and Sarah set a table in the garden
To purchase Renee's Garden Seeds,
these great recipes from
Israeli Cucumber Salad
Summer Garden Slaw
Edible Flower Tea
Simply cut up vegetables in one inch chunks or slices, toss them with olive oil
(flavored with garlic if you desire), and grill them slowly over medium heat
until softened and slightly charred. To finish, sprinkle with a little good
quality balsamic vinegar and a handful of your favorite finely chopped herbs.
Dust with freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese if you like and grind a little fresh pepper over all.
Any leftover vegetables make a fabulous lunch the next day served with
crusty bread and a green salad.
herbs, such as rosemary branches, bloomed out basil stalks, sage branches,
lavender branches and thyme stalks can add wonderful smoky flavors to the
BBQ process. When you are grilling chicken, turkey, pork or lamb, cut a
big bunch of any of these herbs and throw them right on the coals of the
BBQ for the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking. Put the cover on the BBQ and
let the aromatic smoke theyll produce add a delicious subtle herb
flavors to finish the cooking process, filling the air with a piquant herb
scent that will be sure to whet everyones appetite.
Garden meals can also provide an opportunity to use all the edible
blossoms of your herbs as they begin to flower. Make some
sandwiches topped with a simple chopped cucumber and cream cheese mixture
seasoned with a touch of garlic, scallions and salt and pepper to taste,
then decorate the sandwiches with herb blossoms from plants like thyme,
basil, fennel, oregano, dill, arugula, marjoram or chives. If you are
growing nasturtiums, borage, petite violas or calendulas, these edible
flowers can also make tasty and decorative sandwich toppings that everyone
will exclaim over and enjoy.
On hot afternoons, enjoy your garden by having a little tea party! Use
your garden mint to make a strong mint tea to serve iced and sweetened in
tall frosty glasses garnished with fresh mint sprigs and slices of juicy
oranges and lemons. Offer this refreshing herb tea along with simple sugar
cookies or pound cake made with sugar deliciously flavored with scented
geranium leaves. To prepare the sugar, simply bury a few rose or citrus
scented geranium leaves in a few cups of sugar for a few days. The perfume
of the leaves will infuse into the sugar with delightful results. These
light herb and floral flavors are sure to cool and refresh everyone. Last
summer I had a tea party in the garden like this for my girlfriends
birthday and encouraged everyone to wear their most frothy, flowery
sundresses. We ate little herb blossom sandwiches and
cookies, sipped minted ice tea and chatted up a storm of pure summer
contentment. The backdrop of the blooming garden provided the perfect
casual ambiance for memorable afternoon of friendship.
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Hill Rd. Felton, CA 95018