Sunday, August 16, 2015

Jersey Fresh...What's Left on the Vine!

Late August means Jersey Fresh at its best!!!
There are just a couple weeks left of summer. About a month till the first day of fall, but once Labor Day hits, our mindset here in the northeast's over. Which is why I made it a point to get to a local farm market this weekend. It's harvest time! Unlike June, fields are full of lush vegetables! Full ripe tomatoes are bending the vines and the corn is high.

Farmer's markets now have tables stacked high with their hauls and there is no better way to spend a Saturday morning then with a bunch of friends, walking around, sampling the goods and stuffing their bags! What I love about county farm markets is that there is virtually anything you need there. I bought rye bread (so good toasted with my egg white omelet this morning), fabulous oatmeal cookies made with Splenda (this probably excited me more than it would you...), tomatoes, corn, eggplants, and a beautiful arrangement of fresh flowers. And, my surprise purchase of the day was the first of the season Jersey apples!

A must for dipping in juice of a tomato!!
As usual, we were all chatting at once about what we were going to make with our state grown treasures as we strolled among the vendors. Now, my sister Betty and I can make a meal out of fried eggplant and a tomato salad. (The Italian comes out in us when we dip the eggplant slices into the tomato salad)! And nothing can be easier to make with just dipping sliced eggplant in an egg/milk mixture, then dredging through Italian seasoned bread crumbs and frying to golden brown. When I made these on summer evenings years ago, my youngest son Kyle would run in the kitchen and take a few (like they were cookies) and run back outside. I can't smell them frying without thinking about that.

Late summer tomatoes are the sweetest!
The scents and tastes of food can trigger such amazing memories. There are too many years now separating me from the time
we got to spend with our Mom who died way to young when we were still children, but I can't cut up a plump  Jersey tomato without thinking of the times she would gather us in the garden with a loaf of fresh white bread, a jar of mayonnaise and a salt shaker, for summer tomato sandwiches!

I love to entertain using fresh farm products! Their rich,full flavors really requires very little else in terms of spices and enhancements. In fact, I make what I call a "chunk" salad which always goes quickly with requests for the dressing. And I don't do anything but "simple", so here it is!

Cut up (2) peeled cucumbers, (3) tomatoes,  (1) green or red pepper, and a couple stalks of celery. Place in a bowl and set aside. Then mix together:  1/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil (olive oil, my usual preference, is a little strong for this dressing) 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (don't skip this step, it is the salt that draws the juices from the tomatoes that blends in with the dressing.) and 3/4 teaspoon of sugar. Add pepper to taste. Whisk it all together and pour over vegetables. Serve at room temperature for full flavor. That's it! Couldn't be easier or taste better!

So, please take the time to enjoy what is left of summer and take advantage of all our local farmers have to offer! What we purchase now, gets them through winter and, more importantly, brings them back in the spring! And it's just so healthy and delicious!

And, those who have followed Kitchen Clatter over the last couple of years (and I'm grateful for all 100,000 plus readers) know that I amp up the recipes and food blogs as autumn approaches. After a summer of working long hours and then relaxing on my down time, I am heading back to the kitchen! Stay tuned! We are just getting started...again!


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