First Corn!

I guess July is a month of firsts - the first peppers, the first tomatoes, the first beans, the first basil, the first melons, the first cucumbers.... and now the first corn!

How do you like to cook corn? When it's this fresh, sometimes I don't even cook it. But usually the family protests - hot, with butter and salt, please! - so I put it in a pot of water, bring it just to the boil, and then take it out.  Yum. We do like to grill corn, too - but I find that's better for older, tougher ears.
This corn was a variety from Renee's Garden called 'Casino' - I think I chose it because it promised to ripen early. Considering it got a haircut from the deer and had to rebound from that, I think it's been a great performer. It's a hybrid, not an open-pollinated, organic seed, though. By the way, I'm thinking of growing popcorn next summer as well as sweet corn... any suggestions? I've read good things about 'Dakota Black.' I might also grow a field corn for the chickens.

We'll have the corn with grilled steak tonight. I wanted to share my new favorite marinade recipe with you, from Epicurious. It's equal parts soy sauce, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. For instance for 1-2 pounds of steak, say flap steak (my new favorite cut), I use 3 Tbsp of each liquid plus 3 large cloves of garlic. Put it all in the blender and mix it up. Let it sit on the steak as little as 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours. Delicious!

In summer, I very much appreciate the simplicity of making some sort of protein or noodle, then adding a side or salad from the garden - whether scrambled eggs with a side salad of cucumber/tomato/rice wine vinegar, or spaghetti with tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil, or stir-fried bits of pork with string beans, summer cooking is unfussy and fresh, and that's what we crave this time of year.

It's been too darn hot to do much in the garden this week, and I'm fighting a throat infection. So it's been a little lazy around here. Yesterday we did manage to get over to China Camp State Park in Marin County (86 degrees there while 108 at home, oh those micro climates!) which has an interesting history and calm, warm (well, warmer than the Pacific anyway!) waters to swim in. Dogs are supposed to stay on leash here, but every time we've been, there have been loads of dogs swimming with their owners, and we do that too. It's fun to have a place to swim with the dog. Kate brought a friend, and we had fun looking at rocks and boats and floating on boogie boards. If you haven't been here, I highly recommend it. The only downside is that all the trails (and there are many enticing ones) don't allow dogs at all. That's a huge bummer. But the parking fee is only $5 and it's a good picnic spot. The shore is rocky, so bring water shoes.

This weekend my job is to figure out how to free-range the chickens in the garden, without them eating everything or digging up all the dirt. I'd like to give the chickens more space to roam, and I'd like them to eat all the bugs I'm finding in my produce. But I don't want them messing stuff up too much. I'm thinking livestock panels might be the way to go, but I'll let you know what we decide. If you've got some advice for us, please share!