August is the bountiful month, when the harvest journal entries for each day nearly fill a page. The colors of produce always amaze me. Just pulling all the baskets together is a feast for the eyes. Purple beans, glossy scarlet and golden tomatoes, cream netted melons, soft green cabbage, dark green cucumbers and spikey onion tops. And after I took this photo, I realized I’d forgotten the honeydew melon and blackberries that had already gone to the refrigerator!
August is the month that I always feel there needs to be more meals per day, because I want to make so many things, but we could never eat it all. I still haven’t made gazpacho, or pesto or peas with mint, or new potatoes with chive-cheese sauce. The eggplants are ready to pick, and Dragon Tongue beans will be picked this week. I want to roast some beets and make French carrots. A vegetable lasagne has been on the list for weeks, as well as spinach quiche, but there is always something that “needs to be used first.” It’s a good problem to have, and I’m definitely not complaining, nor do we really need to eat more!
The melons have been amazing, and shared with many friends and neighbors, as well as tomatoes, peppers, cukes, beans and cabbages. In exchange we received some delicious sweet corn from our neighbors on the corner, a jar of homemade vegetable marinara sauce, cherry cobbler, and some fresh eggs from others. A good trade for all.
August is also the month when fall crops are sown. Bed 1a has “Wando” peas (a heat tolerant variety) emerging and parsnips that will overwinter. When the peas come out, spinach will be planted and this bed will get the poly tunnel for the winter. On the right side, some old kale seed was planted, but apparently it was too old, so it will get another try with another variety. The rutabaga seeding in Bed 5d has not gone well either. They emerged very erratically and were immediately attacked by flea beetles and various other bugs and disappeared. I’ll give those another try, seeding a little thicker and giving them a row cover (even though I hate the appearance of those in my garden, I guess I hate the bugs more…and besides only I will see it if I don’t include it in a photo!)
August is also the month for elderberries, and although not as bountiful as some years due to our very late frost in May, there is plenty to make elderberry jelly (as if I need more jars of that) and immune system building elderberry syrup (there’s still 9 quarts on the shelf!) Maybe I’ll make a batch of gummies, or
I developed this recipe back when Elder was the Herb of the Year and put it in my fourth book, “Herbal Blessings.” It’s fast and easy, and delicious!
In a 3-4 c. microwavable container, combine 1/2 c. orange juice, 2 T. dried elderberries (or 4 T. fresh) and microwave for 2 min. Allow to sit in the microwave to keep warm until needed.
Meanwhile, finely grind 1 tsp. dried elderberries (if not available, omit) and mix with 1/4c. all purpose flour, a generous dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reserve 1 T. of this mixture. Place the rest in a flat pan or plastic bag to coat 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs that have been rolled or pounded to and even 1/2″ thickness.
Microwave the orange juice mixture an additional minute. Keep in microwave.
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, heat 2 T. oil to frying temperature. Place floured thighs in skillet and brown on both sides. While chicken cooks, add to orange juice mixture 2 T. elderberry jelly (if not available use apple jelly) and 2 T. honey. Microwave for 2 minutes.
Mix reserved 1 T. flour mixture with 3 T. elderberry wine (or red wine, or chicken broth, or water as a last resort) and whisk until smooth. Stir into orange juice mixture and microwave for 2 min. Stir. Microwave another 2 min.
Remove thighs to serving dish. Garnish with orange slices and pour a little of the sauce over the top. Place remaining sauce in a small pitcher or creamer and serve. 4-6 servings.
And, I think I need to make Elderberry-Peach cobbler, too! Have a great week, and enjoy the garden’s bounty. Too soon, frost will end our fun!