The summer is waning, fall is here and despite all odds we haven’t had a hard freeze yet. Parts of your garden are likely still going strong. But what are you to do with your garden that keeps on giving?
If you’re done, or out of space, preserving your food for the winter you could certainly give it away to neighbors, donate to food banks or you could get creative with your harvest.
One of the many walls that most every gardener finds themselves running into from time to time is getting sick and tired of cooking the same old thing with the same produce. How in the world do you get creative with the same ingredients?
The beauty of this time of year is not only do you have an abundance of vegetables but all of the great local farms in our town also have an abundance. We also live in a town that has quite an assortment of fantastic chefs and restaurants. These chefs currently have access to quite a lot of produce where imagination is the only limit on what to do with it all. Both of these facts lead to quite an assortment of fun community events that you can attend to gain inspiration. These include farm dinners and festivals.
Farm dinners are just what they sound like, dinners on the farm featuring excellent chefs who try and use as much produce from the farm as possible in the courses. These dinners give you a first hand look at what five-star chefs do with the exact same produce that you grow thus giving you excellent ideas for your own home cooking.
Festivals are generally community centered events on the farm that feature fun activities, farm tours, music and a forum for meeting other people in the community giving you a chance to swap ideas. Plus if you go on a farm tour you’ll likely get a lot of ideas for your own home garden, etc.
Another opportunity for inspiration can be found in the Longmont Restaurant Week running from October 8th thru 17th. Not only is this an opportunity for you to get a steal of a deal on fancy restaurant food and try out restaurants that you may not have tried yet but it is also an excellent opportunity for you to get some much-needed inspiration for your kitchen.
It’s not on a farm but you’ll still get to see what our town's excellent chefs are doing with food and you’ll likely get a lot of ideas that you can then take into your own kitchen. There are a lot of great participating restaurants but if you’re new to town, or haven’t done much exploring, and want a suggested starting point then: The Roost, Jefes, Everest Restaurant,and Summit Tacos are all an excellent starting point on your culinary tour of Longmont Restaurant Week.
Your inspiration doesn’t need to stop there, let’s not forget our ranchers! Your local rancher can not only provide you with delicious cuts of meat — raised right here in Longmont — but excellent ideas of how to cook said meat. Ranchers tend to be quite good cooks and not too shabby gardeners. They will likely be able to provide you with lots of ideas from a different perspective of pairing meat with specific vegetables in a fashion that you probably haven’t tried. Buckner Family Farm, McCauley Family Farm, Lazy J Farm Stand and Grama Grass & Livestock are excellent ranch starting points if you’re looking for suggestions.
Now you have a lot of ideas for how you can get inspired to use the vegetables in your garden differently while having a great time around town. If you aren’t growing any vegetables then perhaps you’ll gain so much inspiration from the tips above that you’ll have no choice but to get some vegetables from your favorite local farm and take your newfound ideas into the kitchen. Maybe you’ll even start your own vegetable garden next year! Don’t be shy, get out around town, join in on the fun community events, eat food from our town's acclaimed chefs, get inspired and most importantly support your favorite local farm or ranch!