Sunday, September 28, 2014

Last of the Summer Gardens

Cool fall weather motivates me to get in the kitchen and cook and bake up a weeks worth of humble and tasty dishes.  That will not be today.  September 28th, 2014, while may not make the record books, we are at a hot and sunny 81 degree temperature.  I stopped yesterday at one of the roadside stands and  people were five deep to pick up sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons-the last of the summer bounty.  The acorn and butternut squash looked superb but I have a hard time enjoying the if I'm not wearing a sweater.  I was planning on sharing a few thoughts and a recipe or two on tasty fall morsels but am switching gear and sharing my ad hoc recipe for tomato, onion, and cucumber salad. 

I make a pig out of myself with it, but it is one of those treats that doesn't allow me to eat in  moderation.  I can reason that it is full of healthy vegetables, and vinegar and all things that our bodies need.  My hubby teases me and asks if I m making my "delicacy". While not a delicacy , it is one of the simple pleasures that you can't put a price tag on.  Well, actually, you can as I would estimate this cost me less than $2.00 to make a big huge mixing bowl worth, since I used free onions from a colleagues dad's farm, a $1.00 huge beefy tomato, and two cucumbers that were just 3 for $1.00.  You fortunate and talented gardeners can make for almost nothing . 



Above is my purchases from the stand, plus the last of the onions from my work friend.  I probably would have bought more if I had more than $3.00 cash on me. We've been enjoying the gift onions all week in stir fried potatoes, fajitas, and my daughters Spanish omelets.

The salad couldn't be easier.  Here it is-everything is approximate as I never measure:
3 TBLS sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or what was left from scraping the sides of the jar in this case)
2-3 small-medium onions
2-3 small- medium cucumbers
1-2 firm tomatoes
lots of pepper and salt to taste

Dissolve sugar in vinegar, add mayo, salt, and lots of pepper.  Stir until mixed. Thinly slice onions and loosen into rings or thin long slices. Thinly slice cucumber.  Slice and then 1/4 tomato into chunks. If you choose, salt vegetables before putting in with the dressing to get some of the water out.  I never bother with this.  Mix veggies into dressing, stir and cover them, add more pepper if you want (I love lots of pepper).  Cover and chill until really cold,  dressing is very watery, almost like pickle juice, but oh so delicious. 

All can be altered to your preference and degree of dressing you want. I know others leave out the mayo but I like the flavor and the creaminess it provides. I make a lot of the dressing, and then let the veggies marinate for a while.  It might seem a little wasteful, but I often then slice another 1/2-full cucumber and onion to the leftover dressing in the bowl and put back in the refrigerator for the next day.  We ate half last night, and will finish it off today with some pulled chicken sandwich's.

True fall will come back, and winters are long here in Minnesota.  We'll soon be indulging in soups, stews, baked breads, and squash. But for today, we'll eat like it is still August. 

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