Dinner at Harvest Time

Monday, August 28, 2006
This is how dinner goes these days. I walk out back to the garden and pick an ear of corn, a tomato, a green pepper, a small crookneck squash, a couple of leaves of basil, and a sprig of parsley. Back in the kitchen a handfull of stew meat goes in the skillet to brown while I cut the corn from the cob and slice the squash, pepper, and tomato. Salt and pepper the meat, add corn, garlic, basil, parsley, and a bit of water and let simmer a few minutes. Add peppers and squash, simmer a minute more, add tomatoes, stir, and cover with good Diamond aged chedder. When the cheese melts, turn off the flame and let it cool a bit. Serve to self with a glass of wine and a tumbler of water. Yum, yum.

Everything the cookbooks say about fresh veggies is true. There is absolutely no comparison with store bought, especially for tomatoes and crisp peppers and sweet peas. But you have to grow your own to get them.


David Thomson said...

“There is absolutely no comparison with store bought, especially for tomatoes and crisp peppers and sweet peas. But you have to grow your own to get them.”

I refuse to debate you on the taste comparisons between “store bought” and home grown. In fact, for the sake of the argument---I will concede your point. Nonetheless, your way will inadvertently guarantee the deaths of most human beings on this planet. I have almost utter contempt for the “Whole Foods Stores” concept. The vast majority of human beings can survive only because of mass grown food with pesticides. Only affluent “yuppies’ can afford to be so indulgent.

Rick Ballard said...


I won't debate you either. I would only ask if there is a chance that a such a sufficiency exists that it might allow for someone else to experience what you describe? 'Cause I might know someone willing to set aside DT's points should the occasion present itself.

Said person might even be willing to engage in some pickin' and washin'. And I, I mean 'he' ain't no damn yuppie either.

chuck said...

Nonetheless, your way will inadvertently guarantee the deaths of most human beings on this planet.

Excuse me, David, but what is "my way." Are you saying veggies are manufactured, not grown? Are you saying growing veggies is an expensive rich man's hobby? What would my grandparents say, who sharecropped and picked berries back during the depression. Little did they know they were wealthy. And yet my eighty-nine year old uncle, retired from the post office all these years and living in Shafter, half an hour from Bakersfield, still grows tomatoes and grapefruit in his back yard. Of course he shops at the market, everyone does. Who wants to spend hours canning all the produce for winter? Nevertheless, freshly grown veggies and fruit are a great supplement in season and can be enjoyed by anyone with with access to water, sun, and soil.

David Thomson said...

“Excuse me, David, but what is "my way."

Your way is that of the statistical aberration. Most human beings on this planet do not enjoy your opportunity to grow their own vegetables. They must depend on others to provide them with enough food to sustain their lives for an extended period of time. Only “factory farms” can feed the masses. The "grow your own food" movement can only be an indulgence of the relatively affluent yuppies.

loner said...


Rick beat me to it. I'm salivating.


Skookumchuk said...

I am by no stretch a rich man, and I drive to the supermarket as much as the next guy, but - I can't resist a garden report. First, the Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are ripening nicely. Every time I go outside I seem to pick one or three. I don't know if any will last long enough to actually get put in a salad. The Romas will be next to ripen - say another week or two - followed by a new purple variety, the name of which I forget.

The herbs are doing well, as are the Gravenstein apples. I have to grab the apples quickly so that various critters don't emerge from the greenbelt out back to devour them while still on the tree. Then the moles that emerge from the blackberry bushes grab anything that falls. The plums are superb, even though the tree isn't bearing as fully as it should.

The squash was a complete bust. Not enough sun. Other than that, it has been a fine summer.

Now if I could just get Modelo Especial Mexican beer and that great salami from the deli to grow on trees, my trips to the supermarket would be considerably reduced.

Syl said...

My goodness, I don't think it's a matter of either/or.

I had a book called the Apartment Gardner. No, wait, that was for flowers and stuff.

The apropos book was The Postage Stamp Farmer (I think) and showed how to grow vegetables in your closet even!

Not everyone has even a yard, and those who do often live in communities with strict restrictions on what you can do on your own piece of dirt.

But, more importantly, everyone has their own priorities and not everyone wishes to have to eat all those cherry tomatoes before they rot. A few, fine. But not hundreds of them.

So the local grocery is fine for them when you wish to indulge.

I don't think there's much danger from individuals doing what they wish vis-a-vis growing their own veggies. Even attempts at forming a movement of homegrowers won't get very far--and there are certainly attempts. We're way beyond that.

Knucklehead said...

You green-thumbin' tomato huggers make me sick!

The next to last time I bothered going through the trouble of keeping a garden I failed to pay sufficient attention to the tomatos plants I stuffed into the soil I had blistered myself putting in to replace the modeling clay that lies a few scant inches beneath the surface of my little bit of paradise.

Some weeks later I had some yellow tomatos growing. Huh? Never saw that before. Before I could research this little matter of yellow 'maters I bumped into an Eyetalian neighbor and, figuring Eyetalians have some genetically inherent knowledge of tomatos. He knew nothing of yeller maters but suggested I keep a watch on where the neighborhood cats did their business.

Not all that long after that episode - within a year or two - I noticed that roughly simultaneous with the growing season applicable to my little annual attempt to grow provisions these little roadside veggie stands seemed to sprout up thicker than zuccinis. Not only that but the produce was quite tasty and could be procured for much less than the $4/tomato (+ labor) I was spending to grow my own.

Not only that, but I also noticed that when one answers the neighborly question, "Do you keep a vegatable garden?" in the negative one suddenly finds oneself the owner of a large bag of rather nice veggies which further reduces the cost without, at least to my ability to discern, any reduction in tastiness.

The only thing that remains of my garden these 5 or more years later is an oregano bush that cannot be eliminated by machine nor chemical. It just is. Perfumes half the neighborhood each time the lawnmower visits it.

Syl said...

Heh, Knuck.

There are several immigrants from Russia just down the block. Their little community has a communal garden. Oh, the goodies Joe has gotten from them because we live in a wee apartment with no dirt. :)

'I'm hungry' says Joe as he dons windbreaker and heads on a neighborly walk. :)

Oh, I had the book titles mixed up I think.

The Apartment Farmer and The Postage Stamp Gardener. Probably both out of print.

Skookumchuk said...


Their little community has a communal garden.

It is actually a good idea in general. Probably best if you own or rent your own space and are responsible for keeping it up within certain rules. Think of it as condos for veggies.

/survivalist mode

truepeers said...

DT, during WWII urbanites (and I'm not saying Chuck is one) were engouraged to grow "victory gardens" - there's a lot of unused space, even in the city. Call it Yuppie or call in survival, neither impinges much on serious farming.

This year, my brother wanted to grow some pumpkins for the kids for Hallowe'en. Not having much space, he grew them the other side of the back fence in the little green space beofre the lane way. The other day, he discovered that someone had stolen his three pumpkins, still green. Kids impatient to do their pumpkin smashin'? - no sign of that around. So maybe a hungry person came along, in which case there is an argument for the backyard gardener saving lives :)

CF said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CF said...

Once, driving theough Pennsylvania we stopped at a farm stand and bought fresh picked Gravensteins which I made into several deep, deep apple pies. I can still taste them. Those are hard to find here, but are the best cooking apples ever.

BTW I think anyone who sells "delicious" apples should be sued for fraud in marketing.

Skookumchuk said...


Don't know about Lower Mainland raccoons, but I do know about the Puget Sound ones - they get as big as pigs. Well, small pigs. But I can easily imagine one spiriting away a pumpkin or two in the dead of night.


Gravensteins are great. Lots of apples in this part of the world and not just in drier eastern Washington. Here in Puget Sound, once they chopped down the original forest, they planted orchards which survived until the arid eastern half of the state benefited from the big hydro projects and until Seattle began to really grow after World War II. You still find older houses here and there on big lots with a few rows of fruit trees out back.

I've never seen that in Vancouver, though I don't know that city as well as my own. Did you guys do that too, Truepeers?

chuck said...

...were engouraged to grow "victory gardens" - there's a lot of unused space, even in the city.

In Berlin after the war folks grew veggies on park land. I don't suppose these were called defeat gardens, but that surely is what they were.

Kids impatient to do their pumpkin smashin'?

There were produce stands when I was growing up and feuds to go along with them. I remember the kids in the farming family who lived down the street standing guard with shotguns one Halloween because of threats from another family further down the road.

They also foisted a puppy off on me which I carried home under my shirt. I bet my parents just loved that ;)

Syl said...


I lived in Tacoma (decades and decades ago) and we had several apple (gravenstein!) and cherry trees out back.

And rhubarb!

truepeers said...

Skook, maybe it was raccs, but I would expect them to rip apart and eat on site, leaving evidence behind. Yes, you can still see older houses with fruit trees out back - especially in places like Burnaby or South Vancouver where the land was cheaper and the lots bigger than in Vancouver proper - though they are disappearing with the land values encouraging the end of double lots. From what you say about hydro projects, it sounds like there wasn't much fruit farming in Washington State in the early part of the 20thC. But the BC Okanagan was opened up at the end of the 19th, with irrigation systems. So there would have been a lot of cheap (it took a while for the farmers to force co-operative marketing on everyone and keep the price controlled) local fruit on the market by 1910; still, some people evidently grew their own.

Skookumchuk said...


You should move back. You wouldn't recognize it.


Are raccoons physically capable of carrying away small (I assume small) green pumpkins? Or would they, as you reasonably suggest, simply dine at the scene and leave the dirty dishes behind?

Think of the pixels we can waste on that subject alone...

Was the Grey Canal at Lake Okanagan the first one, or were there others before?

Skookumchuk said...


The previous owners had what I thought was rhubarb but turned out to be something else entirely. Looks similar.

But rhubarb is on the list.

truepeers said...

Skook, it's been a long time since I was reading on the history of fruit farming, so i can't tell you off hand. I imagine the first systems would have been pretty primitive means of slightly re-directing water off the hills.

As for coons, I doubt they have either the means or the temper to carry their food far away; i've seen what they can do to squash - an ugly mess that leaves "finger prints".

Skookumchuk said...


You are right. Raccoons don't have that kind of temperament.

Interesting about the Okanagan getting such an early start. I was wrong about the start date of Washington fruit growing. It was much earlier. But no question that the dams helped make it what it is today.