One of the luxuries of growing your own vegetables is being able to pick them at the proper size and maturity for the dish you want to prepare.

* Eggplant It's no use trying to make a delicate mousse with large, intensely flavored eggplant. Opt for a moussaka or eggplant Parmesan to take advantage of a mature eggplant.

* Tomatoes Early in the season, tomatoes are best raw, in salads. Later, when the flavor is concentrated, I make roasted tomato sauces and rich soups.

* Squash Pick small squash for quick sautéing and medium-size squash for slower cooking in a casserole. I feed oversize squash, with spongy interiors and big seeds, to my neighbors' sheep.

*Turnips Tiny turnips cook through in only a minute or two; I serve them sliced, as a side dish. Large turnips need to be cooked into stews or slowly baked.

*Fennel Baby fennel is perfect shaved raw into salads; bigger bulbs are better braised.

-- Georgeanne Brennan