So many things are blooming in the yard now. I've been wandering around trying to get interesting shots using the macro setting on the camera. I'm using a Canon A620 and am still learning all the functions.
Early morning is great for the lighting and I love the way the dewdrops look. Getting the sunflowers has been somewhat of a challenge, though. Some of them are over 8 feet tall and my arms can only stretch so far. The roses by the mirror were picked from my uncle's flower beds. Even though the yard has been mostly neglected since his death last year, the flowers have continued to bloom profusely. Next fall I plan to get cuttings and/or dig up some of the plants that can stand the climate change from Birmingham to the Gulf coast.
The pole beans in my vegetable garden have been an unqualified success this year. I've given away several pounds and eaten them 4 or 5 times a week. I only only planted 10 seeds on the first go-round and 8 seeds two weeks later and all of them came up. Some have even escaped the trellis and are twining around the stalks of the sunflowers. Most of the harvest so far has come from the original planting. In a couple more days, I'll be picking from the second group. The cucumbers are about 4" tall and already blooming. They will be climbing up the trellis about the time the beans are finished. Bell peppers, sweet banana peppers and tomatoes are starting to ripen now, too, along with a few strawberries every day or so. I'll pick the tomatoes while they're still green though - love those fried green tomatoes!
Here's my grandmother's recipe:
Slice firm green tomatoes - as many as you want - into 1/2" slices. Lightly salt and pepper them. Dip the slices into beaten eggs and then into cornmeal. Fry them in a hot iron skillet with 1/4"-1/2" of melted shortening . Shortening is best because it makes for a crispier crust. Oil just doesn't get hot enough and tends to make the tomatoes greasy.
Another good way to cook green tomatoes is mixed with okra and/or eggplant. I cut the okra into 1/2" pieces and dice the tomatoes and eggplants into cubes about the same size as the okra. Instead of fooling with the egg wash, I just slightly dampen the pieces and dump them into a bowl of cornmeal. If I have time, I'll put the bowl in the fridge and when I'm ready to start frying I'll sprinkle a little more water on them and put them back in the cornmeal for an extra coating. Like Grandmother, I use an iron skillet and Crisco shortening for frying. Most important is not to crowd the skillet. Just fry one loose layer at a time - you should see some of the bottom of the skillet between the pieces of okra. If you have a lot to fry, you'll need to strain out the crumbly bits of cornmeal that come off of each batch or they will burn blacker than sin. After frying, drain in a bowl lined with several layers of paper towels - keep them warm while you fry the rest by putting the bowl in an oven set on 200º or the lowest setting there is. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.
Now that's what I like about the South!