FIRST HARVEST

Some of us Green Thumbs met at the community garden this morning on the coldest, windiest Memorial Day weekend I can remember. Usually, we are baking by now and wearing shorts and short sleeves and seeking shade.

Instead, we wore sweatshirts and jackets as we squatted to rid our Marigolds of withered flowers and pick our first harvest of cilantro, basil, parsley and one floweret of broccoli.

We had a Memorial Day picnic brunch by the garden. The meal included ham biscuits, strawberry muffins and orange juice.

The boys played a pickup game of soccer nearby. My son stuck a small American flag in the center row of vegetables in honor of the holiday. Our garden neighbor, Mr. S, showed the kids the proper way to water the plants and to cut the herbs with scissors.

We started keeping a journal, and the kids hung pie pans on the fence poles to scare away any birds or animals that might be interested in helping themselves to our growing vegetables. Tiny green strawberries and tomatoes are emerging, as well as white and yellow flowers promising more fruit to come.  The kids joked about our yield as we gently set the handful of green herbs and the small floweret of brocolli into the bottom of our large harvest bag.

When we got home, I transferred the herbs to a smaller wire basket. What I noticed most was the scent of the basil and cilantro. The pleasing fragrance was a reminder that food is supposed to have a fresh, appetizing smell.

Most of my harvest is going into a Black Bean Salsa tonight. I’m pretty sure that once my sons taste this recipe the way it is meant to be prepared with fresh herbs, they’ll swoop into my kitchen like hungry birds. And no matter how many pie pans I rattle, they won’t leave until every bite of the salsa is gone.

–c

 BLACK BEAN SALSA

2 medium tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (3 ears of fresh corn)

¼ cup finely chopped purple onion

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup cilantro, fresh from the garden

Pinches of basil and parsley, fresh from the garden

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

Chop tomatoes and bell peppers. Stir together tomato mixture, corn and remaining ingredients. Cover and chill 8 hours. Serve with tortilla chips or in pita bread for sandwiches or on lettuce or spinach for salad.

Yield: 7 cups

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