Friday, July 24, 2009



I was hoping to get this done before we went out into what is now our workaday world this morning but the picture took so long to upload I didn't have time for anything else. It rained buckets last night, and I thought maybe we'd have a day off, but the sun came out in the morning, so we went ahead and continued the clearing work on the property. The eye-popping "before-and-after" views are all created now; we're down to nitty-gritty places that aren't as attractive but still need to be done. And when it rains a lot of that forest floor turns to shoe-sucking, tire-burying muck. It's so hot so early in the morning that before long all those long sleeves and long pants--necessary to keep away the bugs--are sticking to you as if you'd been wading in the water. There is no way to put a "whistle while you work" spin on this uncomfortable drudgery. Its only reward is its completion, and the fact that what you've done has made a visible difference. Next week the foundation bricks will be laid, so I'll have more pictures to share.

We are still enjoying the bounty of all the little vegetable stands nearby. When I saw baby limas at the place down the road I knew I'd have to make some succotash with them and some of the sweet corn I still had on hand. There's nothing very complicated about the succotash I've always known--corn and limas--but to make sure I got the proportions right I went to Epicurious to find a basic recipe. What I found was this instead, a great variation on the classic standby that uses two more gifts of the season: tomatoes and fresh basil. And it happens that this is a dish that truly does improve with a few hours to let the basil flavor develop fully. I liked it the first day and LOVED the leftovers the next day. If you think succotash is a plain-jane side, you may change your mind after you try this.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
Coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped red tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/4 cups corn kernels cut from 4 ears of corn
2 cups fresh lima beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or 10 to 11 ounces frozen lima beans or baby butter beans, thawed
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with coarse salt. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn, and lima beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in basil and serve.


michele said...

The succotash looks wonderful. We're thinking we should be looking a local farmers' markets for some baby lima beans.

The land clearing efforts are amazing. I think of when John was clearing our much smaller back yard of honeysuckle, grape vines and other underbrush. It took him a couple of summers. He didn't have a gas-powered tool, but he did have a 'weed wrench', an amazing gripper/pry-bar. Stay hydrated!

Zoey and Me said...

Add the basil last . . . OK. Did you set aside a small area for a vegetable garden? My nutrition class at the VA Clinic here says not to buy veggies in a store, find local produce or grow your own, it's much healthier. I'm glad you found a local produce stand already.

Ralph said...

Michele, we're really lucky to have so many little produce stands around. I had a honeydew last week that was huge and incredibly sweet--$2.50! Now I'm working on comparable cantelope.

John really missed out not having that weed cutter we bought. Also, remember, we have every day to do this, not just weekends. That back yard of yours is quite the project in itself. No slouches, you all!

Ralph said...

Z&M, too soon to say about a veggie patch--may not need to since the stands are so ubiquitous. I'll probably do some container gardening of tomatoes and herbs, but corn takes up too much space and it's dirt cheap....may want cukes one year to make pickles, but I can even find little pickling cucumbers in the store here...

Cuidado said...

Sufferin' Succotash! A side I really love but it's not a staple here. I've always been different and because I've lived in the south i turned on a few palates...

Ralph said...

Great, Cuidado! Hope you like this variation. (I can't wait to make some more....)

auntympaugh said...

How is it that everything you create looks positively scrumptious!! I have to say that I made your fresh blueberry pie again for some family guests and they LOVED it...including the newlyweds!!
Now, I'm sitting here salivating over succotash!! I'll let you know how it comes out. Luckily, like you and STeve, we have many little farm stands around us!!
Hugs to both of you!! Marilyn