The crisp fall temperatures have arrived. As I began the transition of summer to fall plants in the garden plot, I suddenly grew even more attached to the immature green tomatoes still on the plant. Mind you, we've been eating tomatoes at least 3 times a week since July, have canned even more, and currently my counter is covered in tomatoes in various stages of ripening. There was an energy I couldn't ignore in the unripened tomatoes still on the plants, some sort of strange desire to honor them and not waste them. I think it has a lot to do with their glorious color, now that the bright Summer flowers are fading. Rearranging the veggie plot allowed me to take the time to see my plants with new eyes, and inspiring me to bring the color inside to liven up the chilly fall atmosphere a bit.
So what is still active in the garden? The radishes are coming in, alongside carrots, chard, and banana peppers. These are the plants that patiently waited for the end of the excruciating summer heat, to pop their heads up from the longest tanning bed session in history. "We're ready to come out, now," they proudly exclaim. The cabbage experiment of 2005 is just now producing little cabbage heads, without the slightest bitterness or spicy pepper flavor I'd expected for such a long maturing process.
With produce like this, who needs the Summery sunflowers to liven up the home? The purples, greens and reds preclude the change in trees as they prepare themselves for a lengthened winter domancy. A pile of green tomatoes in a green pottery planter makes for a monochromatic, but gorgeous centerpiece. An unusual bowl coupled with a similarly sized cabbage head brings vegetables into the focal point, and a Warholian interpretation of the mundane. Who says you can't dress up the water in your vase? Those root vegetables you're growing are gorgeous in their own right, and deserve a little time out of the soil to be admired before consumption. If you dip into the vase for a bite of radish, your table guests will follow suit and nibble a bit on the centerpiece, before the main attraction hits the table.
So, just what is the perfect entree for an early fall meal? Using up the garden leftovers, of course. My veggies just dying to be cooked (bad pun intended, sorry) included ichiban eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and okra (which is still out there flowering and producing in all of it's hibiscusy glory). I added some corn, limas, garlic, onions, celery, carrots and veggie broth and came up with what I have dubbed Gumbotasheole. A name which, I just realized, looks revolting in print, but is a conglomeration of Creole Gumbo and Succotash.

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