My friend Julie brought this appetizer over for book club last week and I have served it twice since. It is a surprising combination of flavors that taste great. I love that it is so healthful, easy to assemble, and looks pretty to serve. Peach season runs from July to mid-September, and one of our favorite family activities is to take our kids to the farm up the road where we can pick them. Mint grows like a weed once it’s planted, so the patch where I planted it in our yard provides more mint than I know what to do with. (Suggestions always welcome!) It is the perfect time of year to serve this recipe.
Slice a Fresh Peach
Spread a spoon of spreadable goat cheese on each slice
Top with a fresh mint leaf
Remember how I dazzled you all a few weeks ago with the little kitchen garden I had planted? I was so proud, and wondered at the folly of getting what appeared to be green bean seeds in the soil, since I had what appeared to be green beans popping up amongst my tomatoes and cucumbers. Well……it turns out that my garden really is just a weed patch because those are in fact just weeds!! Come on you have to admit these do look like baby green beans, right?!
Andy comes and buffs my wood floors on occasion,
which does wonders for the upkeep of the hardwood with four kids and a dog. Andy also happens to be a Master Gardener, and while my husband and I sat together outside drinking our coffee the other morning, Andy came out and stated verbatim, “Liz, (he calls me Liz) next year I am going to help you turn that laughing stock of a garden of yours into a thing of beauty”. Really to say this in front of my husband was fueling the fire of his ridicule towards my gardening skills in a big way. It validated all of his doubts, and even more so when Andy informed me that my “Green Beans” were in fact weeds that I need to pull.
I felt defeated as I pulled out my fake green beans, leaving huge gaps in the layout of my garden. As I was thinking that maybe I really will never be the gardener I hope to be, I glanced over at the cherry tomato plant to see a cluster of green baby tomatoes dangling from the vine, infusing me with hope.
Yes, I’m a tad bit humiliated, but it is hard to trample the spirit of an eternal optimist, especially when I’m given a sliver of hope like my tomatoes. This year my little weed patch of a garden will produce a handful of tomatoes and I’m sure some cucumbers. The chives, sage and basil are already thriving. Next year, Andy has promised to help me turn my garden around, he offered one season of help, and then it’s up to me.
Every year I plant a tiny “garden”. I have to call it a “garden” as opposed to garden because it is usually a pretty laughable attempt at horticulture. I am determined to someday be a real gardener. Like many things in my life when I aspire to do something, I just start, and learn as I go along. (This blog is a good example, or see my upcoming triathlon post, that’s another hack activity!) My desire to garden comes from a childhood with a father who was an avid gardener. I grew up in a home where despite our diminutive 1/4-acre urban backyard we had concord grapevines climbing up the side of our garage.
Raspberry bushes lined up in rows along the back fence, five active beehives that produced honey were tucked behind the garage, and rows of assorted vegetable patches lined the rectangular perimeter of the grass.
My father passed away when I was thirteen, and though we helped him in the garden as children, clearly none of his practical gardening tips stuck with me. I was given a love of vegetable gardens though, and a great appreciation for their products, as well as aspirations as an adult to grow my own food. I clearly remember the satisfaction of plucking a plump raspberry off the vine and popping it into my mouth as a kid, or running out to pick a cucumber for my mother to use in that evenings dinner salad.
As a mother I want to pass on to my own children that understanding and appreciation for where food really comes from. Thus, much to my husbands’ frustration, my garden attempts have been going on since we got married and have had homes of our own. Admittedly my gardens have never been pretty, and yes they do become overrun with weeds, but every year, from the tangled mess, I have had the deep satisfaction of picking at least a couple of cucumbers and tomatoes to make a salad with. I use my rosemary picked from the garden on my roasted potatoes, and the basil in tomato mozzarella salad. The sage is sautéed with brown butter to top butternut squash ravioli, and the mint goes into our mojitos. So despite my fumbled attempts at a real garden so far, every year it gives me some small satisfaction.
This year we have green beans growing by folly, the seeds were apparently in the dirt we filled out garden patch with last fall. Just as we went to pull out the wild looking yellow flowered vines as weeds, my daughter exclaimed, “look they are green beans”!! Sure enough they are! We added a few tomato plants, some cucumbers of course, the sage has come back from last year, and despite my daughters attempt to eradicate them thinking they were weeds, a few scallions survived as well. I added a jalapeno pepper plant for good measure, and would still like to add some cilantro and rosemary, but they were out of the plants at the store.
My 9 and 7 year olds were kind enough to help me plant. I was quickly stripped of my gardening gloves and trowel, and as I found myself digging a hole with my bare hands while the two of them scuffled over a tomato plant, I was reminded of why I need to be patient with my gardening goals. Now we just have to sit back and let things grow. I swore I would keep my garden weed free this year, but I most likely won’t. Someday I will be one of those women in a big floppy hat and button down men’s shirt happily digging in my cultivated garden for hours. Until our agrarian future sets in, the occasional harvest of homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers will have to do.
Any of you real gardeners out there have some advice for a novice?