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Blue Bungalow Farm

Heather Zydek writes about life on the east side of Tosa.

Garden to Table: Dinner from the Yard

Garden to Table, cooking, recipes, blackberries, cabbage

It's a simple pleasure that I believe everyone should be able to experience: eating food harvested from one's own yard (or balcony, or kitchen window for that matter). 
All year round I try to grow at least one or two things I can cook and eat. In the winter, that means mostly herbs like basil and oregano. In the summer, it means a lot more – especially in August, when most plants yield their fruits. Yesterday I harvested:
- blackberries: This is the first year I have a bumper crop of the very tart, juicy aggregate fruits.
- carrots: I usually wait a little longer to pick them, but I wanted to make soup, so I pulled a few of the carrots with big orange tops protruding from the soil.
- cabbage. I started a few cabbages from seed in the spring. Due to the cold, dark "sprinter" we had this year in Milwaukee, most of my seedlings took forever to come to fruition. I am just now starting to see tomatoes and my eggplants haven't even flowered yet. And I now have about two small cabbages that look like they are ready to be harvested.
- grapes: I think I jumped the gun on harvesting them – I've never harvested grapes before, as it's taken a few years for these vines to bear significant fruit. I harvested a bowlful but left most of the grapes on the vine. 
Though our fridge is rapidly emptying of store-bought sustenance, I am holding off on grocery shopping for as long as possible by using produce from my yard. This is fairly doable as long as I have eggs, milk, and flour, and coffee beans on hand.
Last night for dinner I decided to make cabbage soup. I sautéed onions and garlic in a large soup pot, stirred in peeled, chopped carrots and cabbage leaves, added about six cups of water, vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes, and a bit of pepper, garlic powder and parsley. I brought everything to a boil and then let it simmer. A few minutes before serving I added about 2/3 c. Marsala cooking wine and salt. I served the soup with shredded mozzarella cheese and bread. 
For dessert I thought I'd try preparing a dish my friend shared with us a year or two ago. It was a kind of flan, but firmer, more like an eggy cake. Problem is, I lost the recipe and couldn't remember the French name of the dish. So I made up this recipe instead. I call it "Blackberry Crepe Cake" because of the recipe's similarity in texture and taste to crepes:
Blackberry Crepe Cake
8 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegetable oil or melted butter / margarine
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour (I use a mix that contains 50/50 unbleached white and whole wheat flours, with a little ground flax meal thrown in)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. blackberries (or other blueberries or raspberries or any tart berry combination)
[Stir all ingredients together. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour into greased 9  x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm or chilled.]
Both the soup and the "crepe cake" (which, I'm sure, has a proper name) were yummy. I'm definitely going to make the cake again, though I have so many zucchinis I am going to be making chocolate-chip zucchini muffins for weeks before I make any other dessert. 
Incidentally, for those who take this blog post as a boast of my mad homemaking skillz, be assured that I am not much of a "Susie Homemaker." Most of those who know me can attest to the fact that my house is always a mess, and many of our meals, including yesterday's lunch, came from a box. As I work my way toward complete self-reliance, a little Roundy's mac-n-cheese comes in handy now and then. Of course, when the mood strikes I can be a decent cook. But believe me when I say that I probably rely on convenience foods as often as any other working mom. I have a long way to go toward living off the land! 

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