The Garden Begins to Give

We've had a couple of days of rain this week...and, that's a good thing, since we've been hot 'n dry for the week or so before that. For a while there, every day, we would hear about bad thunderstorms in the area...the weather radio would sound the alarm...and then, nothing. But, two nights ago, we had a big, booming storm...the kind that kept Duchess roaming around all night, looking for the basement (where she used to go hide from the lightning and thunder in MO). And, now we've had measurable rainfall in our new rain gauge on the deck. And we all know that rain-showers will bring more than just summer flowers!

Between raindrops today, I dashed out to check on our veggie garden in the 'way-backyard,' and look what I gathered (photo to right): some banana peppers, some cayenne peppers, a green pepper, and our FIRST THREE TOMATOES (one of each variety: plum, Celebrity, and German Johnson).
We were so late in getting things planted because of our move that I wasn't sure if we'd have a productive garden at all. Missy M, after all, has a huge garden going in her new raised beds back in Louisville, complete with giant tomato plants, kudzu-like watermelon vines, and even an eggplant! (All this from a veggie-phobic...:) She sent us some photos of all the bounty, and I just loved this one of Ella Rae, checking out the little watermelon growing on the vine that has escaped the garden and is heading for a getaway over the fence (left). I wonder if she thinks it's a new variety of squeeky-toy?

Anyway, you can probably guess what happened right after I took that picture of what I gathered from the garden, right? Yep, I grabbed two of those tomatoes and began assembling my favorite sandwich: tomato and bacon on fresh white bread with lots of Hellman's mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Yummy. N/M/E and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch today, that's for sure.

Those banana peppers will probably become one of our new favorite appetizers: Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppers. I've adapted the recipe from one I found on page 47, in my July/August 2009 Paula Deen magazine (a gift subscription from Brother J and SIL J). You slit the peppers, remove the seeds and membranes, then stuff them with a mixture of cooked rice, Monterey Jack cheese (or another lively cheese), chopped cherry tomatoes, sour cream, salt, and spicey seasonings; then you wrap the stuffed peppers with bacon strip(s) [the recipe calls for TWO strips of bacon per pepper...I cut that down to just one]. Then, you grill'em until the bacon is done (about 10-15 minutes), turning frequently. Now, that's the hard part, since the filling can squish out and the peppers can stick to the hot grill, even if you use Pam like the recipe says. I did discover that you can put some heavy-duty Reynolds wrap (the kind made for the grill) down on top of the grill, spray it with Pam, and then grill the peppers that way. Really tasty!

The cayenne peppers are being put in a jar of vinegar so I will have plenty of "pepper vinegar" when it comes time for turnip greens to come in. I also use them in chili and soup and white beans...oh, in almost any and all of those winter-time dishes.

And, the green pepper and the (1) plum tomato will join others in the spaghetti sauce I'll be making tonight. Mr. T is doing his "North Carolina" week, which means he can go to work at an NC dealership during the day, but be home again at night. And, I noticed before he left this morning that he was wearing a white shirt. Family joke. White shirt + tomato (red) sauce = a sure stain.


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