This has been a summer like no other. The irony is my small container garden seems to sense this and is producing a better than average harvest.
While I did not start any of the tomatoes or herbs from seeds, each plant has matured and is growing strong and has not yet to bite the proverbial dust. So far I've been able to harvest enough tomatoes and basil for salads, parsley for chimichurri and dill to make a sauce for fish. The mint, which I managed to keep alive over the winter is doing its thing so there's enough for ice tea, smoothies or fruit salad. I look forward to coffee (thank you Troubadour Coffee Roasters) in the garden, weather permitting, and its been a peaceful way to start the day.
This has been the summer of salads. Greens from the farmers market have been a blessing--arugula, red. green and rocket lettuces, sorrel, romaine, spring mix and kale have been so good. Most of what I've been preparing on the hottest of days has not required extensive cooking or the oven.
And locally grown seasonal fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and peaches are showing up on our plates, one way or another. And, sometimes with eggs. Read on.
Summer breakfast of Rittman Orchards peaches, Pat's Granola and yogurt
Thanks to the farmers and other producers who bring us their goods at weekly farmers market in Northeast Ohio. As the daughter of a woman who was raised on a farm, I appreciate the hard work, long hours and frustration with unpredictable weather that these people take on to bring consumers food. When I worked in a bank many years ago, I recall a farmer telling me that "farming is a 365, seven days a week job. The cows don't know that it's a weekend or a holiday and they have to be tended to." I get it.
Shoutout to my friend Jenny, and her husband Court, who are owners of BlueLoon Farm. BlueLoon is a 46 acre organic farm in Wayne County, Ohio and offers fruit, vegetables and select livestock products. I have been getting eggs from Jenny on Saturday mornings when she and/or Court drive to Cleveland from the farm with fresh eggs and milk. Jenny sends out a posting on Facebook midweek or so saying things like "getting an egg count today; let me know if you would like any for the Saturday delivery OR we will have eggs again this Saturday, PM me or post here if you need any OR if you are coming to pick up eggs, please wait for us. Due to the new calf, Court is running about 15-30 minus late, but he is on his way!" Got to love this. Country life meets city life. Thank you Jenny and Court for your eggcellence!
A breakfast frittata with BlueLoon Farm eggs, red potatoes from the farmers market and cherry tomatoes and basil from my garden.
I've shared before how Queens, New York had many farms when I grew up there in the sixties. We'd visit the farms and pick up cucumbers, zucchini, massive onions and fresh corn. The cucumbers usually showed up on our plates sliced with tomatoes, onions and Good Seasons salad dressing (made in their own bottle)--no fancy dressing, olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
My sister is especially fond of cucumbers and this summer is growing her own. She's been "quick" pickling cucumbers from the local farmers markets in northern Virginia this summer before her garden harvest.
Susans Fridge Pickles
2 cucumbers, sliced ; 1-2 tablespoons sugar; 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar; 1/2 onion sliced; 1 tsp sea salt; 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a shallow bowl or pan; mix sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper in a container. Mix thoroughly and pour over cucumber onion mixture.
I added rosemary sprigs, Italian parsley on top. Add fresh thyme, if you have it. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Transfer contents in bowl or pan into a mason jar. Pour liquid from bowl into jar. Refrigerate.
PS: there won’t be much liquid. I turn the jar upside down to cover.
I'm a pickle fan, too! Miss the sour pickles which came from the Lower East Side pickle barrels in New York City. I was recently introduced to some extraordinary pickles made by my friend, Chef Jeremy Umansky of Larder Delicatessen and Bakery (a Beard Foundation nominated restaurant) in Cleveland. Sorry, no photo, because we scarfed them down and can't wait to get more. Jeremy is the author of Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation. His restaurant is like entering a science lab with floor to ceiling shelves of labeled bottles of foods in varying stages of fermentation. And, don't get me started on the baked goods which his wife Allie makes. The babka bread pudding is out of this world.
Would love to hear what’s on your plate this summer.