Sunday, August 25, 2013

When Friends Give You Tomatoes and Cucumbers...

You get your arse in the kitchen and do something with them!

This weekend caps a week-long break from classes, and I have mostly spent it working at the Winery.  And if I wasn't working there, then I was testing recipes...and well, maybe someday when I don't need a break from such kitchen activities, I'll post about it here.

Until then...

Late August in the Midwest means the first (maybe even second) fruit of the garden harvest.  And my experience has been that the best, most prolific gardeners are retired men...who have the time to water and care for a garden...and who like to give stuff away! 

Lucky me has been on the receiving end of a couple of boxes of tomatoes and cucumbers recently, and when it rains, it pours.  We've received more than we can possibly eat before it all spoils, but that doesn't mean we won't die trying.  Today, in particular, with the exception of a Harry Potter movie break and a bike ride to the grocery store, I spent the hours between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. in my kitchen with my knife kit.  I'll let the pictures tell the story here.

This picture illustrates a "Cucumber Cup".  The scrapings of a container of sour cream, half a block of cream cheese, half a container of Gorgonzola cheese, some dried chives (fresh would be immensely better), garlic salt, onion powder go into a processor and then piped into 3/4" thick slices of cucumber that have been scooped with a small melon-baller.  The final result was fun and delicious, but too salty and onion-y...thus, next time, only garlic powder and no onion powder at all (because of the chives).  I can see this one totally going over at a family function at the in-laws.

The golden summer standard - fresh salsa.  Seems like every year, I make it different, but cilantro, lime juice, tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers are the key players.  Some years I puree it, others (like this year) I don't.  Gimme a bag of Tostitos' Hint Of Lime tortilla chips and I'm good for, like, three days.  If my kids don't finish it first.

This is a test run of the burger I'm doing at the winery this coming Friday night - a Stuffed Caprese Burger.  Two hamburger patties in which a slice of tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese, and a basil leaf are tucked (the lemon basil came to me by way of one of the boxes of tomatoes).  A word of caution, be incredibly sure the two small patties are well-pinched and crimped together...otherwise, there's oozing on the grill.  But still...

 Yeah, pretty as a picture!  Melty cheesy goodness.  For next time, I might try adding an extra tomato slice.

And this was our dinner tonight.  The salsa pile in the background, the Caprese burger on the right, and a cucumber salad in the foreground (two cukes, fresh lime juice, cilantro, sugar, Tabasco - the cuke strips did not work well, so I'd go with chunks next time...also, I'd cut back on the sugar a smidgen).

Our own garden was quite pathetic this year (due to a lack of care, mind), so I'm terribly, terrifically grateful to have friends in high places!

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