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SAVORING SUMMER--recipes that make the most of garden goodness : )

SAVORING SUMMER--recipes that make the most of garden goodness : )

by Virginia Campbell


Cooking and reading are two of my favorite pastimes. I believe that you can prepare delicious meals in a streamlined manner so that you can have extra time for yourself. The more complicated your life, the more demands made on your time, the more you need to take the time to care for yourself. Food is not just a necessity for life, it is a pleasure for all of our senses. Cooking should be something that you enjoy, never just a chore. My Gran was the greatest cook ever, and some of my happiest childhood memories involve being in the kitchen with her and learning to cook. My lessons in cooking and keeping house are from the old school, but many people today don't want to take the extra time, or simply don't have the extra time, to prepare lengthy and complicated recipes. I have regular food and fiction posts on the web, and I try to find simple recipes that are made with good, healthy ingredients and streamlined preparation methods. I want to encourage people to come back to the kitchen, to enjoy cooking, and to spend time together as a family sharing meals and conversation. Most of us who work and have home and family responsibilities are continually multi-tasking and feeling stressed. Good food that is easy to prepare, doesn't break the bank, and provides that simple, satisfying feeling of comfort is well worth the time it takes to put it all together.



8 to 10 cups fresh melon cubes
1 to 2 tablespoons white corn syrup or honey
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 oranges, sectioned
Fresh mint leaves, optional

In a large bowl, combine melon cubes and corn syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, stir in remaining fruit. Garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired. Yield: 3-4 quarts.


Creamy Roquefort Dip & Fresh Vegetable Platter  

1 medium clove garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. Roquefort cheese
1 pint sour cream

1/4 cup heavy cream  assorted fresh vegetables such as yellow, green, and red bell pepper strips; yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes; celery, carrots, and green onions; radishes; broccoli and cauliflower florets toasted baguette slices; baked pita triangles; assorted savory crackers and breadsticks

In a medium bowl, mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Add the Roquefort cheese, roughly mashing  the cheese with the back of a spoon. Stir in the sour cream and several grinds of pepper, and then add the cream until the consistency is slightly thinner than sour cream. (It should cling to the vegetables nicely but not be too thick) Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate until shortly before serving. (The dip will thicken in the refrigerator but will return to its original consistency as it comes to room temperature.)

Wash and drain vegetables and allow to dry on paper towels. Cut larger vegetables into long thin strips. On a large platter, place bowl of dip in center and surround with prepared vegetables. Serve with crispy breads and crackers.    


Blushing Peach Cobbler 

3 cups sliced fresh peaches; 2 cups fresh raspberries or small strawberries; 1/2 cup granulated sugar; 1 tbsp. cornstarch; 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg; 2 cups biscuit mix; 1/2 cup milk; 1/2 stick butter, melted; 3 tbsp. brown sugar 

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Mix peaches, berries, granulated sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg in large bowl. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon into pie plate. Stir together remaining ingredients in same bowl until dough forms. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto fruit mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is deep golden brown and thoroughly baked. Serve topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.    


Fresh Corn Relish 

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh corn kernels 1 red onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium and add corn. Cook until the kernels begin to lightly char. Add onions and peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and store in refrigerator. This can be eaten cold or heated.


Bacon & Egg Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

For Salad:   Mixed leafy salad greens, chopped red onion, tomato wedges, sliced hard boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese. You can use turkey bacon and low-fat cheese. 

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil or light vegetable oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt with parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well-mixed. Or, place ingredients into dressing bottle/jar, seal with tight-fitting lid, and shake to combine. Store in refrigerator.   


Fresh Tomato Pie

Pastry for a 1-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked

evaporated milk

4 cups sliced firm ripe tomatoes;  1 1/2 teaspoons salt;  1/8 teaspoon pepper;  1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil; 1/3 cup mayonnaise; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese;  1 large clove garlic, smashed and minced  

Line pie plate with pastry; flute edges and brush shell with evaporated milk. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Fill the baked pie shell with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic; spread over the layer of tomatoes. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked and pie is done.    


Mama's Summer Salad  

one red ripe tomato; one yellow ripe tomato; one cucumber; one bell pepper; one onion; 1/2 cup cider vinegar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup light cooking oil; salt & pepper to taste 

Cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks and mix together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar with vinegar. Blend in oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and chill. Flavor improves overnight. Stir salad well before serving.   


Chocolate Zucchini Bread  

3 cups all-purpose flour; 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon;  1 teaspoon baking soda; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 cups white sugar; 3 eggs; 1 cup vegetable oil; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; 2 cups shredded zucchini; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.    


Sweet & Spicy Cucumbers and Tomatoes

2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumber (about 2 cucumbers)
1 cup thinly sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 whole dried red chiles
16 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Arrange half of cucumber in a 9-inch pie plate. Top with half of onion. Repeat procedure with remaining cucumber and onion. Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients (vinegar through chiles) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 4 days. Arrange tomato slices on a platter; sprinkle evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Remove cucumber mixture from marinade with a slotted spoon; arrange over tomato slices. Makes 8 servings.



6 to 7 cups cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped green, red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon celery seed

In an extra-large glass bowl, mix the cucumbers and salt. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Stir cucumbers and add sugar, onions, bell pepper, cider vinegar, garlic and celery seed. Mix well, cover and refrigerate. When pickles are well-chilled, stir thoroughly and then pack them into sterilized glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Use all pickle juice evenly among jars. Will keep in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.



3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (handle with caution)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. chili powder
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and thoroughly combine. Cover and refrigerate to allow mixture to become juicy and flavors to blend. Stir well before serving. Store remaining salsa in refrigerator.



2 cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
juice of one lime
1 banana, sliced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 bunch seedless green grapes, halved
juice of one lemon
Combine the yogurt, honey, and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the fruit and lemon juice. To serve, spoon fruit into serving bowls and top with yogurt dressing.



6 lg. tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 whole fresh basil leaves

3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Arrange the tomato slices, Mozzarella, onion, and basil in overlapping layers on a platter. Combine the dressing ingredients, mixing well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and let marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Yield: 8 servings.


Savory Corn Cakes  

1 cup yellow cornmeal;  1/2 cup all purpose flour;  1 teaspoon salt;  3/4 teaspoon baking soda;  1/3 teaspoon ground pepper;  2 teaspoon sugar;  2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled;  1 large egg;  1 cup buttermilk;  1 cup fresh corn kernels (frozen or canned would also work);  1/4 cup diced scallions, white parts only (reserve tops for garnish); 1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced;  1 1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese;  2-3 tablespoons olive oil for cooking  

garnish: sour cream, cooked crumbled bacon, finely sliced green onion tops, ripe tomato slices

In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, pepper and sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl combine the melted butter, egg and buttermilk. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil and saute the scallions, jalapeno and corn kernels until cooked through, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Add the corn mixture to the bowl with the buttermilk. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese. Add the contents of this bowl to the larger bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until the batter is just combined. Carefully wipe down the large skillet you used for the scallions with a damp paper towel. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, swirling the oil around to coat the entire pan. Drop the batter onto the skillet 1/4 cup at a time, cooking 2-3 minutes on each side or until the cakes are golden brown. Add more olive oil between batches, if needed. Transfer finished cakes to a paper-towel lined plate and continue cooking the rest of the cakes. Serve warm, topped with sour cream, crumbled cooked bacon, finely sliced green onion tops, and ripe tomato slices.


Summer Squash Skillet  

1 tablespoon olive oil; ½ cup chopped onion, yellow or red; 3 cloves garlic, finely minced; 3 medium zucchini, medium-sliced;  3 medium yellow squash, medium-sliced;  2-3 ripe yellow or red tomatoes, chopped; 1 teaspoon sugar; salt & pepper to taste; 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onions being to turn translucent, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, tossing well with the olive oil mixture. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking and stirring about 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini and squash are tender and the tomatoes have softened. Toss the hot mixture with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

3 eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
For frosting, combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Yield: 1-1/2 to 2 dozen.   


"BLT" Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing 

Dressing: 1 large avocados, peeled & mashed;  1/2 cup sour cream;  1/4 cup milk;  1/4 cup mayonnaise;  1 tablespoon lemon juice;  1/8 teaspoon garlic salt;  1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; few drops hot pepper sauce  

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Store covered in refrigerator. 

Salad: 4 cups lettuce, shredded;  2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges;  12 ounces bacon, cooked & crumbled;  1/c cup shredded Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese; croutons 

Place lettuce in salad bowl or platter. Top with tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and cheese. Spoon dressing evenly over salad. Top with croutons.