It felt like summer took forever to arrive and it’s almost half over. My garden plot is doing well (except for some pesky rabbits that are partial to taking bites out of perfectly ripe tomatoes) as I continue to nurture the plants toward harvest.
The zucchini has been such a pleasant surprise to watch grow. The blossoms have produced perfect vegetables. And, I’ve been able to make a simple spaghetti primavera using zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, green beans and peas.
While I did not start any of the tomatoes or herbs from seeds, each plant is maturing and is producing fruit. So far I've been able to harvest a few tomatoes, zucchini and basil for salads and parsley for chimichurri and pesto.
Most mornings you’ll find me at the garden, weeding, pruning, fertilizing and watering. I look forward to enjoying coffee (thank you Troubadour Coffee Roasters), 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 staples. Most of what I've been preparing on the hottest of days have 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.
Summer breakfast of local 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 unpredictable weather that face farmers.
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.
I've shared here 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 our own garden tomatoes, raw white onions and Good Seasons salad dressing (made in their own bottle)--no fancy dressing, olive oil or balsamic vinegar ever graced our table.
My sister is especially fond of cucumbers and this summer she is growing another bumper crop. She's been "quick" pickling cucumbers again from her garden.
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 HUGE pickle fan, too! Miss the sour pickles which came from the Lower East Side pickle barrels in New York City. My good friend, Chef Jeremy Umansky of Larder Delicatessen and Bakery (a Beard Foundation nominated restaurant) pickles all kinds of vegetables which are always a welcome treat whenever I visit his shop. Sorry, no photo, because we scarf them down almost immediately 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. Check the chalkboard for the menu which usually includes specials. And, don't get me started on the baked goods which his wife Allie makes. The strawberry pop tarts, coconut macaroons, challah and babka bread pudding are out of this world.
So, what’s on your plate this summer?
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food and lifestyle company.
Pat's Granola is sold online at www.patsgranola.com and is also available at the following Northeast Ohio businesses:
Troubadour Coffee Roasters www.troubadourcoffeeroasters.com
Sports and Spine Physical Therapy www.sportspine.com
Locle Box www.loclebox.com
Made Cleveland www.madecleveland.com
Nature's Oasis Lakewood www.naturesoasis.com
Happy Cows Group Share Happy Cows Group Share
Sweet Bean Candies Sweet Bean Candies
The Bake Shop and Cafe The Roaming Biscuit
Marketwagon NEO MarketWagon
The Corner The Corner at The Van Aken District
Farmers Feast at BottleHouse Brewery & Meadery
NEW Heritage Coffee, Solon
NEW Gingham Market, Lakewood
October 29 appearance on New Day Cleveland
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