Most food crops are annual plants. What we eat, basically -- grains, fruits, and seeds -- are the reproductive systems of plants that require such elaborate reproductive systems precisely because they must recreate themselves yearly. Growing annual plants normally entails plowing the soil each year. This can cause soil erosion -- an increasing threat to long-range food productivity in the United States. Annual plants require water, moreover, and are subject to infestation. Even so, our garden is producing an abundant variety of succulent vegetables, absolutely unaided by the genii of biotechnology. The vines turn out zucchini as if there were nothing to it, and pods swell up with peas as if it were second nature. Sure, it's work. But here are some of the rewards of taking the trouble:
FRESH CORN AND TOMATO SOUP (4 servings)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Dash cayenne pepper
1 whole clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
5 ears corn (4 cups off the cob)
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Handful fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
Saute' onion, celery, cayenne, and garlic in oil in a heavy 2-quart pan until tender (this amount of oil will be enough if you keep the heat low and stir frequently).
Strip corn from cobs with a small, sharp knife. Remove stem end of tomatoes and cut up coarsely.
Add corn and tomatoes, water, and salt to saute'ed vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until corn is tender, about half an hour.
Pure'e everything but the cilantro, with a food mill or a blender, return to the pot and correct seasoning. Heat and serve, stirring in cilantro leaves just before serving.
ZUCCHINI OAT-FLAKE LOAF (6 servings)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups uncooked rolled oats
3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Saute' onion in oil until soft. Combine with other ingredients and press into a greased 8 1/2-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 375-degrees for 30 minutes