Summers in North Carolina bring both laments and blessings. This week, the main topic of conversation was the extreme heat (104 degrees on Friday). But the heat didn't stop the cherry tomatoes from continuing to produce, or keep the farmers from the market Saturday. With pleasure this evening, we realized our entire meal was made of locally produced food.
The salad includes cherry tomatoes we grew, plus tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, cucumber and red onion from the farmer's market. The tomatoes, beans and onion were so full of flavor that we didn't need a salad dressing. The bread was made by a man who buys organic whole wheat from local farmers. He bakes the bread in a wood-fired oven in his dining room and even splits his own wood. He hauls his loaves of bread to market on a cart towed behind his bike. The bread not only has a low carbon footprint, but is delicious. (Some day I'll write a post on the Carrboro Farmer's Market. It's one of the treats of living in this community, having access to tasty local produce, all grown within 50 miles of Carrboro.)
I am proud of the iced tea, my first attempt ever at homemade tea. I've read many times that the Indians used to make tea from beebalm leaves, but never got around to making any until this year. Since the beebalm patch is outgrowing its bounds, I was able to combine harvesting with weeding. A brief Google search turned up a recipe that was ridiculously easy.
- Strip leaves from monarda right before or right after bloom.
- Lay leaves flat to dry for three days.
- Crumble leaves.
Here is how the leaves looked after three days.
Since our summers are so humid, the leaves didn't dry completely, so I put them in the oven on low temperature for about 10 minutes. It was fun to crumble them. It's hard to describe the taste of the tea - it's fragrant with a mild, refreshing taste.
I'd love to hear about teas you've made from plants in your garden. Now that I know how easy it is, I'm inspired to make more herbal teas.