Late summer lament

At this time of year, I always face some conflicting emotions. There’s a sense of melancholy that summer is coming to an end and with it the longer days to get things accomplished, spending time outside, driving around in the Jeep with the top off, the beautiful blooms in my flower beds and the myriad other things I enjoy about the summer months. (Insert deep sigh.)

On the other hand, King Turkey Day is just a few weeks away, and I look forward to celebrating our community and seeing old friends. This year, I’m also anticipating a 30-year class reunion (how in the heck 30 years has gone by is beyond me) and the chance to see my former classmates, as well as a smaller-scale family reunion. What fun! (Insert big smile.)

Instead of dealing with such wide-ranging feelings about the weeks to come, I’ve decided to make the most of this in-between season. That means taking a few extra Jeep rides, stopping to smell the flowers more often and, of course, relishing the fresh garden produce that is so abundant right now. I’ve got a heap of fresh basil and parsley, a few tomatoes left to ripen on my one patio tomato plant, and I plan to buy up a bunch more tomatoes tonight at the farmers market for use in BLTs, fresh tomato pasta, salsa and my favorite tomato tarts.

Have I shared the tomato tart recipe yet? (Insert look of puzzlement.) If so, it’s been a while and bears repeating. I usually make a few of these for appetizers on late summer Sunday afternoons.

Grilled Tomato Tart

Lightly brush both sides of a large flour tortilla with olive oil.

Seed and dice 1 tomato and drain on paper towel to remove excess moisture. Mix tomato with 1 tablespoon finely minced onion; 1 small clove garlic, finely minced; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil; ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt.

Spread tomato mixture evenly over the oiled tortilla. Top with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

Using a large spatula, place tortilla on grill over indirect heat. Cook until tortilla begins to turn golden brown and is crisp around the edges. Use a pizza cutter to cut into wedges.

I got one more response to my recent pleas for more seasonal recipes, this time from Vonnie Wolff of rural Windom.

“I sent these recipes to your mother many years ago (could it have been more than 25 years ago?) writes Vonnie in her email. “Anyway, here are two I enjoy and make often when I have fresh cucumbers and melons.

Cucumber Slices

Mix together 2 tablespoons sugar, 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 cup sour cream, 3 teaspoons grated onion and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add 3 cucumbers, sliced.

Adds Vonnie: “I sometimes add a few sliced onions, and I like it poured over sliced tomatoes, too.”

Vonnie recommends the following method as especially good over melon that isn’t completely ripe. If she doesn’t have any orange juice, she has substituted a tablespoon of fresh orange juice concentrate in the mixture.

Melon Balls

Combine 2 tablespoons each lemon, lime and orange juice, strained; 1/3 cup water; and 2/3 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly and pour over fresh melon balls.

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