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As the days are growing hotter, some vegetables are beginning to fade. The drought has placed a strain on other plants. So I make my way through the garden looking for dinner ideas.

At the store this morning, I felt a bit of sticker shock. The can of coffee that was selling for $6.99 not too long ago was priced on sale at $8.99, and are those cans becoming smaller? Most of my surprises have been with staples other than vegetables, because I have not bought many. I am obtaining about 95% of my fruit and vegetable consumption from the garden. Yet, this has not been a great year so far. The drought seems to have played havoc with my loquat tree. This fruit is usually available to me by March, but I do not think that I will have any this year. The plums are coming, but the birds have gone after the unripe green plums. Still these setbacks have not been so detrimental.
    The cucumber vines that were planted when the weather warmed have produced. My favorite cucumber preparation is to peel the skin; slice them; and marinate them in a rice vinegar/sugar mixture. This makes for a light salad. I also like making a more German style cucumber salad. The cucumber slices are salted. Later the water is drained off and the slices rinsed. The cucumber is mixed with onions, parsley, and a vinegar and oil dressing.
    The lettuce is beginning to bolt. Once the shafts arise from the plant to produce the flowers, the taste becomes more bitter. Lettuce does not like the warm weather. The red lettuce is holding out longer. Salads are becoming common place for meals right now at my house. I made a salad with blackberries and chopped peanuts last night. The blackberries were macerated with sugar. The lettuce was dressed quite popular. I wonder how long before the red lettuce goes to seed.
    The last of the peas were harvested. Peas are water hogs which prefer the cooler weather, so I was surprised that they lasted this long. Katya really took to the peas. The beans are starting to produce. Fresh young beans from the vine did not seem to need any cooking. A squeeze from an orange with a dash of sesame seed oil was great. A lightly boiled one collection of beans which were tossed with butter.
    I had moved my kale to a section of garden which is mainly shade. This has left the plants vibrant with a good flavor to the leaves. This will probably end soon, as kale looses its flavor with the heat. Then it is attacked by the bugs.  A few of my onions are large enough for harvesting, so I have done quick stir fries with the kale and onions.
    The tomato plants have only green fruit, and the pepper plants have had smaller specimens, but the eggplants are producing. I think some gardeners avoid eggplant, because they feel that it is too much work. The plant has to be staked like a tomato plant, and then there is the concern over bitterness. Fresh eggplant is not bitter (at least, I have never experienced bitterness from this vegetable when I pick it out of my garden). I broil slices; fry cubes, or throw shreds of eggplant into a stew. No salting and draining required.
    The squash has abundant blooms now. Maybe in a week this plant will give me my first zucchini or yellow squash. I planted the seeds when the weather warmed, so I have a good sized bush for many of my squash plants.  Otherwise, I have been using a good many herbs in my meals. I mix handfuls of parsley into my rice, cous cous, or bulghur. I like had this herb is treated like a vegetable or salad item in the Mediterranean diet.
    The best aspect for me is eating seasonally. The meals are changing over the course of the months. Yes, I would have liked a red tomato with my lettuce, but in Houston, these two plants will overlap in the fall. As a new vegetable grows, the smaller children have something new to excite them. What I did expect was for the family to become tired of winter vegetables. The two young girls became more fond of winter greens as the season for these vegetables progressed. Now, Katya asks if she will still be able to have her favorite kale for a meal. I wonder if she will feel this way about onions (if she can see the onion in the meal, she will not eat it).  I hope to add more plants in for the summer, but if this drought persists, then I will have to reevaluate my plans.