Most of the important events going on in my life right now are evident on the evening walk around the house:
Zinnias: Tall and pretty and technicolor.
Chickens/ducks: Hot. Panting. It’s been rough lately with high heat indices. The ducklings are now adolescent and awkward and look like dinosaurs.
Terrace: Overgrown with weeds. Strange small outbuilding: Still falling apart.
Kitchen garden: 8-foot-posts up; deer fence not so much. Weird beds that we hurriedly put in because we moved in too late for proper beds.
Cherry tomatoes: Prolific. Still green.
Big tomatoes: Prolific. Still super green. (It’s been rainy.)
Delicata squash: First year growing them—very happy where they are, getting close to ready.
Pumpkins: First time growing them since I was a kid. So rewarding. Vines getting close to 30 feet long. Turning orange.
Pretty orange-y pink lilies we inherited with the house: On their way out.
Evening light on zinnias: The best.
We are running around from family reunions to the steamy concrete jungle to West Africa (me). I’m mosquito-bitten and chlorine-y on the way to the office in the morning. Part of me gets really into the summer go-go-go, and part of me thinks that mortgages are dumb and I should probably just be slung across a Honda Rebel, riding cross-country and eating road food like Jane and Michael Stern. Did you know I have a motorcycle license? This is the tailspin summer throws me into. I can’t say I mind much.
(Also, I’ve been eating this punchy cucumber salad a lot, with cucumbers grown by people who are much better at getting their veggies to ripen by July than me.)
Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts
Just barely adapted from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, which is in the running with just a few others for the distinction of being the cookbook to which I have most often referred on this site
- Several medium cucumbers, thin-skinned is best
- 1 small red onion
- 1 serrano chile, finely diced
- Grated zest and juice of two limes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons peanut oil or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 6 mint leaves, slivered
- 6 Thai basil leaves
- Peel the cucumber if desired. Halve it, and slice (using a knife, a mandolin, or vegetable peeler) into long strips. Thinly slice the red onion. Combine cucumber, onion, and chile in a bowl.
- In a jar, shake together lime zest and juice, soy sauce, light brown sugar, and oil. Toss vegetables with the dressing, then top with peanuts and herbs.