Keeping it simple for the holidays is the only way to maintain any semblance of sanity in our already hyper-paced world. Maintaining a low profile at the homestead heralds my path through these treacherous times. But duty calls any righteous gardener to step up to the plate and deliver the goods celebrating this harvest season.
Potluck dinners abound, and having a signature dish that is easy to make and provide to an external location works wonders on the worry gauge. My contribution is an ancient recipe I call garden pesto — pesto being a process not a product. Fresh from the garden, stuff several bunches of basil leaves, French sorrel and garlic chives, along with some sunflower seeds, herbs, olive oil and cheese into the food processor and blend it into a thick dip. Deliver the pesto in a nice bowl-and-platter combo with some chips or crackers, and let the guests serve themselves.
Although the spotlight shines brightest on the big bird, the full-blown family sit-down dinner allows the gardener to play an important supporting role. Blanching and freezing green snap and yellow wax beans is real easy. Clean and cut the beans into pieces. Bring a pot of water to a full boil, and drop the beans in for 3-4 minutes. Remove and immediately chill with ice cubes to stop any further cooking. Drain, pack the beans into freezer bags, label and place in freezer until further notice. This simple blanching process halts bacteria and enzymes from continuing to ripen or spoil the harvest.
Florida is still part of the South, and with collard greens appearing on the region’s coat of arms, anyone in the state could come under serious suspicion for not including collards in a celebratory menu. Collard slaw is my new favorite way to supply this superbly productive crop to my people. Remove the thick center stem from the larger leaves and roll them into a cigar shaped cylinder. With a dangerously sharp knife, scrape or slaw the thinnest slivers off the end of the collard tube. I have not perfected this phase of the project with the food processor, so the manual knife work is still a necessary kitchen skill. Into a large bowl, mix the slivered collards, grated carrots and radishes with a favorite oil, vinegar and herbal dressing. Important: let the collard slaw set for several hours, as it does take time for the dressing flavors to infuse throughout the greens. Eat well and prosper!