Enjoy summer garden goodness in the cooler months

Gardeners are masters of thinking ahead.

Margie and Charles G. Anderson Sr. recently emailed photos of their backyard garden bounties. They also shared simple ways of storing up some of that produce to enjoy in the fall and winter – without the time and effort involved in canning and freezing.

“I had a good onion crop this year with some weighing, I think, over 1 pound each,” Charles wrote. “The onions will hang on the patio summer and fall, and we will cut them off one at a time as needed. Then we move them to the garage for winter.”

The Andersons also have a plan for savoring home-grown tomatoes in the late fall and early winter.

“We gather them green and put them in the window to ripen. If we still have green tomatoes in the fall, we wrap them in newspaper and place them in a box in the garage. We sometimes have ripe tomatoes as late as January,” Charles wrote.

In January the cycle begins again with the starting of plants in cups near the window.

This laudable way to put fresh, good-tasting food on the table was born out of harder times.

“I grew up in the Depression. My daddy would grow all kinds of garden veggies. Onions were hung in shady areas and kept for winter. In winter time, we moved them inside if they were not all gone,” Charles wrote.

I think the Andersons’ strategy of growing some of their own food is ideal, even in our convenience-driven, time of plenty. Knowing where your food comes from, working in the garden and reaping tasteful rewards of that hard work feed both the body and mind.

Seeing those big onions puts me in the mood for the following recipe for a quick version of French Onion Soup. Pair this with some crusty bread and grated strong cheese like Gruyere, and you have a perfect light evening meal in the fall.

If you want to enrich the soup, tinker with the recipe by making your own beef broth with soup bones ahead of time and cook the onions longer at a lower temperature before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Share your own old recipes or food-related historical recollections by emailing Laura Gutschke at [email protected]

QUICK FRENCH ONION SOUP

Ingredients

1/2 pound butter

4 large onions, cut in half and then sliced thin

6 cups (48 ounces) beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon tarragon

1 bay leaf

12 sliced multi-grain or French bread, toasted in the oven and cut into fourths (or 1 1/2 cups croutons)

Up to 1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated

Directions

1. In a medium stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and stir until lightly brown and starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes.

2. Add broth, salt, pepper, thyme, tarragon and bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

3. Make layers of toasted bread and cheese in individual ovenproof soup bowls until half full. Add soup and top with remaining cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serves 8.
 

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