Welcome! :-) Whatever brought you here today wasn't an accident, and I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm always glad to have folks drop in my kitchen for a visit and hope you'll feel right at home. We always have an ample supply of fresh lemonade, sweet tea, and a pot of coffee brewing along with a sideboard full of baked treats for you to enJOY while you're here. Relax and take your time as we visit and catch up on the latest news. Don't forget to email and let me know what's going on in your world, as well. And, come back soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Summer Vegetables

Tomato at Portland Farmers Market
With summer comes an abundance of vegetables, and the Portland Farmers Market was overflowing with them this weekend. From tomatoes and peppers to corn and cabbages, you can get your veggie fix at your local farmers market. I have my favorite vendors that I visit from week to week to swoon over their selection. I am especially fond of juicy, richly-colored, plump tomatoes. The fun part is bringing them home and finding dishes to incorporate them into. Tomatoes are so much more than just for salads. They can go in your favorite lasagna, pasta sauces, quiches, ratatouille, soup, chili, or just on their own with a little salt and pepper.

Along with tomatoes, we often get bell peppers, onions, corn, green beans, and other veggies at the market. They are so beautiful and fresh! Because I love the color purple, I captured all the purple veggies I could find at the market - and there were quite a few!

That's a lot of purple! They say you eat with your eyes first. Colorful vegetables are a great way to get kids interested in food, rather than handing them something colorless and uninteresting. I was definitely interested in food as a kid, and I think my parents encouraged variety in our diet.

Growing up, Dad and Mom always kept a garden. I don't recall a summer when our family didn't have access to fresh vegetables. I think that's why I get so excited about food in the summer, because we can make so many delicious dishes with a garden of ingredients. My Dad still keeps a garden at his and my Mom's home in Arkansas. When I was there in the spring, I saw the beginnings of his garden already showing up. It's so exciting to see plants grow into something yummy and good for you.

My Dad's garden in Arkansas, back in May at the beginning of the growing season

When my husband, Nathan, and I lived in Savannah, we maintained a garden every summer, having okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, jalapenos, and bell peppers. Here in Portland, we just have a container garden, but most importantly, it's a container of cherry tomatoes. And they are beautiful and delicious! I get so much joy into going out in my back yard and picking tomatoes right from the vine.

Sun Gold and Red Cherry Tomatoes from my container garden
I selected a few veggie-incorporated recipes from Momma's cookbook to share and celebrate the fresh vegetables of summer. Get outside and enjoy this last bit of summer before the veggies and farmers markets are gone for the year!

From A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That Cookbook by Patricia Rains

"5-Layer Mexican Dip"


1 can (15-1/2 oz) refried beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 green onions, diced
1/3 cup sliced black olives
1 tomato, chopped

Directions: Mix beans, chili powder and cumin; spread onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Top with layers of remaining ingredients. Refrigerate several hours, or until chilled. Serve with tortilla chips.

"Best Salsa Ever!"


3 cans (28 oz each) diced tomatoes drained (basil, garlic and oregano seasoned)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (basil, garlic and oregano seasoned)
4 medium fresh/vine-ripened tomatoes, died
1/2 purple onion, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 Anaheim pepper, minced (omit for milder variety salsa)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice

"Fried Green Tomatoes"


1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated California Garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
Ranch dressing (Hidden Valley recommended), for dipping

Directions: Combine flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, alt and pepper to make breading. Dip a tomato slice into the egg, then the breading. Do the same for all the tomato slices. Set aside. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to halfway cover the tomato slices. Heat oil to 325 to 350 degrees. Add tomatoes. Cook three minutes on each side. Serve hot as an appetizer with ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.
(Kenda's note: I like to fry my green tomatoes in a cast iron skillet for best crispiness. Also, I omit the ranch and serve the fried tomatoes with a little drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, sun-dried tomato garnish, and goat cheese.)