Summer Fresh, Summer Simple

My grandfather had a garden. Not a small plot either, but a garden that covered a big portion of his backyard in Leonard. He grew corn, okra, black-eyed peas, yellow squash, carrots, radishes, green beans, and other things I can’t remember. He built complicated looking frames so the tomato vines could spread up instead of out, and one winter he made a mini greenhouse out of old windows set over a frame so he could grow strawberries in January.

He also was in charge of the town’s community onion patch. Folks contributed to an onion fund, and my grandfather would hire someone with a tractor to plow a two-or-three-acre plot on the edge of town and plant sweet onions. Come harvest time, all the contributors could take their fill.

During my summer visits to Leonard, the dinner table would be bright with colors of the season, the reds of ripe tomatoes, beets, and strawberries, the yellows of corn on the cob and squash, and the greens of lima and green beans, English peas, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach and collards. I didn’t appreciate that the tomato on the table at lunch had been on the vine an hour before, and that the corn went from the stalk to the kettle in a matter of minutes.

Even if you don’t have a backyard garden, you still can take advantage of the truly fresh produce available from local purveyors who pick it in the morning and sell it the same day. So in this issue’s food section, we will point you to some places to indulge your craving for fresh, and Chef Robert Aranson of Kelly Square will offer a selection of Summer Simple recipes to bring out the best of the best that the next few months in Texoma have to offer.