Thursday Recipe: Summer Caponata

What to do with the glorious bounty that is Summer from the gardens? Whether you get a CSA, go to your local Farmer’s Market, have your own garden or just shop for local and seasonal goods at the supermarket, Summer has a lot of options. Right now there is a lot of zucchini (I kept it to only 4 plants in the garden so not to get too bogged down, but then we get a bunch in the CSA! Zucchini everywhere – we’ve been shredding and freezing it for later sauce and Fall breads, and just slicing it lengthwise and broiling or grilling it a bit to carmelize and eating it with everything), tomatoes, and eggplant is coming in. Fresh basil is abounding, cucumbers, green beans, early/mid-season and fingerling potatoes, peppers of all kinds/shapes/colors/spices, etc…Josh’s Panzanella  is a good use of fresh ingredients, as well as just a mixed grill of veggies and/or without meats, simple salads with local feta and pan-fried scallops or shrimps.

Salad Season, for sure. We have never been salad dressing type of people (too many preservatives/fillers/busyness) and for a long time if we went out to lunch (those days are over for awhile) Duende would ask for her ‘favorite special’ dressing if she had to choose and go into this elaborate description of essentially vinaigrette for the poor server – a good quality olive oil, a lovely appropriate vinegar (we love rice vinegars, red or white wine vinegars, sometimes balsamic, or lemon juice, etc), maybe a little dried or fresh herb, S&P, shake in a mason jar to emulsify – dressing. My favorite salad is more of a Fall salad (when the buttery greens really come back into season) – roasted beets, pan-braised boneless pork chops, on a bed of greens and sliced crispy cukes with a rice/lemon/or white wine vinaigrette mixed with the meat juices poured over the meat/beets, and toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds, with soft goat cheese or feta, and if I’m really feeling decadent – homemade croutons. Never fails to please me.

However, this is not that. This is something soft and sexy and savory that you can throw into the crockpot and leave for awhile or do on the grill or even fill the dutch oven and put into the firepit (the latter is a lovely fantasy of ours – we just got a 10qt cast iron camping dutch oven for just this sort of amazing velvetiness that a lick of fire brings to a meal). To be honest, when I made this I threw a bone-in pork shoulder (just rubbed with S&P) after browning some of the vegetables in my counter roaster (the crockpot is good and we’ll talk about that, but for a little caramelization on both veg and meat, the counter roaster is fantastic and more efficient that the whole oven on, in the heat of Summer). But this Caponata would have been just as super delicious and protein-rich without the meat. And has lots of subtle variations to make it your own – could add diced celery or fennel to this, as well. This has a Provencal Ratatouille feel but then makes a swift and stunning Sicilian turn near the end. This is great to make ahead – gets even better with sitting (can cover, refrigerate at least 8 hours – or freeze for later meals, bring to room temperature or warm on medium before serving, leftovers are excellent). Serve with crusty bread or on a bed of rice or Fregola/Sardinian/Israeli/Pearl couscous or as a side with Grilled Fish/ Roast Pork or Lamb, or just on a wide spoon with a lovely Rose.

Summer Caponata

Serves 6-8

  • 3-4 long thin Eggplants (or 2 Lg Italian – though I find them to not be as sweet – they are bread for heartier dishes like Eggplant Parmigiana, this is better for those interesting lavender/pink/white round or long eggplants you admire at the Farmer’s Market), cut into 1″ chunks
  • 3 young long thin mix of Yellow Squash and Zucchini (again, save the lunkers for baking with sauce and cheese, or as substitute for Parmigiana, or as guilty-pleasure frying discs), cut into 1″ chunks
  • Olive oil (up to a 1/4 cup)
  • 5-6 medium ripe Tomatoes of any color (or a combo of sizes to equal that – we freeze a lot of rainbow cherry and medium tomatoes for these kinds of dishes, too, and in the height of heirloom tomato season we slice them thick and roast them at 250 degrees for a couple of hours with whole garlic cloves/herbs/S&P/generous olive oil until they are deeply caramelized – cool – freeze – in this dish I added a small bag (about a cup & 1/2) of these which really boosted the sexy factor), halved or whole if frozen
  • 2 large fresh Onions with greens, separate, chopped coarsely
  • 4-5 large whole peeled cloves Garlic (halved if super big)
  • 1 cup drained Green Greek Olives (pitted or not is up to your taste, could also use Kalamata or mixed Greek Olives, if with pits I would ‘crack’ – take the flat blade of a big knife to whack the olives and then use)
  • 1/4 cup drained Capers
  • 1/2 cup Raisins (golden, Sultana, crimson, Thompson)
  • 1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts or Pepitas (shelled Pumpkin Seeds)
  • 1/4 cup White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp organic Sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole raw Almonds, lightly toasted
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Basil, minced (I shove my herbs into a coffee cup and chop with kitchen shears)

There is something special about caramelized eggplant and zucchini – it really brings out the sweet and savory in both (and truly the only way I can stand eggplant, just thin strips of almost crispy eggplant roasted with olive oil and sea salt send me to dreamy places whereas thick slabs of soft Italian eggplant semi-repulse me) – so, it is not necessary but preferable to brown these two a bit before chucking them into the crockpot (if using) – if using a dutch oven or counter roaster or grill, this step will already be in place.

So, in pot of choice add 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil, Eggplant, Onions (sans greens) and Zucchini and brown on Medium-High. When there are deep golden bits (transfer to crockpot) add Tomatoes, Onion Greens, and Garlic (it is here where I nestle a roast on the bottom of the roaster with the vegetables surrounding it – can brown Roast first on all sides, too if desired, roast on 400 degrees with cover for 2 hours, temp and continue to roast until desired temp). If just using veg, roast on 325 for 1 & 1/2 hours.

Then add Olives, Capers, Raisins, Pine Nuts, Vinegar, Almonds, Sugar (I know, sounds crazy – just do it), cook for 10-15 minutes.

Season with S&P, a little more Olive Oil and Vinegar if needed, add fresh Basil and serve!



Duendesday – already!

Wow – that seemed like a fast week, was it fast for you, too? This Summer seems to be flying by. As usual, on a homestead – we are always behind, even when we think we are a bit ahead. There is always something more to be done, or something we have put off until the very last minute to do it (something gets lost in the shuffle, like my poor driveway garden plans – it’s just one wild strip of tall cultivars and volunteers alike but blooms just enough I can look past it and focus on something else).

Take for instance, some of our homeschooling goals. When Duende was a little pea, we lived mostly in the Portland (ME) area (with a short stint in Wiscasset, which was lovely and a perfect place to hide out for a long Winter & Spring) – at that time homeschooling wasn’t a real concern for us as we key into a Waldorf-inspired 7 year cycle. With that, we didn’t foster any deliberate instruction in order to celebrate her imagination for as long as her initial growing interval. Though when the State required her to be registered for school at age 7, we dreamed of cute handmade journals like scrapbooks of student-led learnings.

By the end of the first year to be assessed by a certified teacher, we were scrambling to get her ‘portfolio’ together with pictures and drawings taped into the pages of the refurbished signature bound classic Time/Life covered school ‘journal’. Our certified teacher was recommended by another freeschooler we knew and come to find out, our certified teacher was a ‘freeschooler’ herself (of 3 girls) and was quite comfortable with a narrative assessment of Duende (no portfolio needed). So, we let the scrapbook fantasy go since we couldn’t keep up with it anyway. And now they just have in-depth conversations about what Duende is interested in and how to access materials/references if she needs them. Our lively and lovely teacher is never concerned about her ‘reading’ or ‘writing’ or ‘arithmetic’, she just assesses whether she is engaged and articulate and that we are not preventing her from learning whatever her heart desires.

Which is excellent because that fits in line with our goals for her. Have you met her? We are never worried about her ‘socialization’ (to which I have problems with our educational system thinking that a one dimensional/single age group is ‘socializing’ or that peers are always a good influence), she is inquisitive and polite; very interested in other people of all ages/shapes/sizes/being because they are fellow people to meet. She is a good problem solver (great at math, unlike me), she loves to try new things, and we include her in all of our activities – how could she not learn? Learning does not have to be curricula – it can be just life. Living an engaged life, together. Every activity is a chance to add conversation about the hows and whys, the history, the connections, etc.

With all that said, her assessment was in May (that’s when she officially became a 5th grader, which shocked me and interested her very little – ha! Though she liked the way it sounded, even if she had no context for it). And I just remembered yesterday to send in the paperwork (perhaps the weak link here is me)! It’s a good thing Maine is not on a rolling application process. Are there things we wish she was stronger in or that we had already introduced? Sure, like all things on the homestead, some things fall through the cracks – like I wish she would brush her hair more often, and practice Spanish and piano, but she’s a free spirit and I appreciate that in her greatly.

Family and friends worry that she is not a strong reader (curious in a house like ours, but we all respond to our parents in different ways) but she is coming around – comics save the day on that one, and you’ll never hear us complaining about comics (as a couple of comic book nerds, that we are). In my heart of heart’s I wish she could write cursive and know all the birdsong but I’m not going to force her – that’s not our way. Especially since she can sit around and explain hydraulics to me, or the Mesozoic era, ride a bike, roast a chicken, draw a cow, know a bunch of edible wild herbs, ride a horse, build a birdhouse, work a broadfork and a wood sander, pick for quartz, know Brown Bird or Elvis when she hears their songs, play chess, make up her own Mad Libs, sew and repair her own clothes and make clothes and outfits for the pets, and so much much more…oh, to be 10!

What’s Happening, Tuesday?

Tuesday answers with so many possibilities: bagel, cracker, pizza dough making, lacto-fermented pickles/turnips/beets, blackberry, and carrot jams. We’ll hit the lovely Augusta Farmer’s Market later this afternoon. Maybe some late weeding in the afternoon (always with a bit of weeding, though the strawberries might disagree on the ‘bit’ – I think they are in there somewhere). We had a little rain yesterday morning and the sun is hot and Summery today – the pullets are out and about getting their forage on, and the dragonflies are swooping in great arcs. I have herbs drying in the racks – cleavers, cinquefoil, calendula, red clover, wild bee balm, and will hopefully add some goldenrod, Joe-Pye-Weed, and if I can forage some evening primrose from somewhere (ours is biennial). And I have Fall class teaching preparation and dissertation writing to do – indigenous knowledge, Lynn Margulis, and Scott Nearing on my plate for the latter right now. Josh is perfecting some biochar and charcoal making projects.

We’re getting geared up to begin the next project – the starting bits on the Rock Bottom Homestead Community Hearth: finding placement, materials, and begin construction of an outdoors bread oven. We are really excited by this endeavor – as a component of building new communities and connections, in food and fermentation, in care and consideration – this is a big moment for our homestead to branch out as new growth. Please join us in this endeavor – any assistance is appreciated; we’re all just doing what we can.

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Monday’s Muse

And so I ask myself: what, at this moment in history, would not be a waste of my time? And I arrive at five tentative answers:

One: Withdrawing. If you do this, a lot of people will call you a “defeatist” or a “doomer,” or claim you are “burnt out.” They will tell you that you have an obligation to work for climate justice or world peace or the end of bad things everywhere, and that “fighting” is always better than “quitting.” Ignore them, and take part in a very ancient practical and spiritual tradition: withdrawing from the fray. Withdraw not with cynicism, but with a questing mind. Withdraw so that you can allow yourself to sit back quietly and feel, intuit, work out what is right for you and what nature might need from you. Withdraw because refusing to help the machine advance—refusing to tighten the ratchet further—is a deeply moral position. Withdraw because action is not always more effective than inaction. Withdraw to examine your worldview: the cosmology, the paradigm, the assumptions, the direction of travel. All real change starts with withdrawal.

Two: Preserving nonhuman life. The revisionists will continue to tell us that wildness is dead, nature is for people, and Progress is God, and they will continue to be wrong. There is still much remaining of the earth’s wild diversity, but it may not remain for much longer. The human empire is the greatest threat to what remains of life on earth, and you are part of it. What can you do—really do, at a practical level—about this? Maybe you can buy up some land and rewild it; maybe you can let your garden run free; maybe you can work for a conservation group or set one up yourself; maybe you can put your body in the way of a bulldozer; maybe you can use your skills to prevent the destruction of yet another wild place. How can you create or protect a space for nonhuman nature to breathe easier; how can you give something that isn’t us a chance to survive our appetites?

Three: Getting your hands dirty. Root yourself in something: some practical work, some place, some way of doing. Pick up your scythe or your equivalent and get out there and do physical work in clean air surrounded by things you cannot control. Get away from your laptop and throw away your smartphone, if you have one. Ground yourself in things and places, learn or practice human-scale convivial skills. Only by doing that, rather than just talking about it, do you learn what is real and what’s not, and what makes sense and what is so much hot air.

Four: Insisting that nature has a value beyond utility. And telling everyone. Remember that you are one life-form among many and understand that everything has intrinsic value. If you want to call this “ecocentrism” or “deep ecology,” do it. If you want to call it something else, do that. If you want to look to tribal societies for your inspiration, do it. If that seems too gooey, just look up into the sky. Sit on the grass, touch a tree trunk, walk into the hills, dig in the garden, look at what you find in the soil, marvel at what the hell this thing called life could possibly be. Value it for what it is, try to understand what it is, and have nothing but pity or contempt for people who tell you that its only value is in what they can extract from it.

Five: Building refuges. The coming decades are likely to challenge much of what we think we know about what progress is, and about who we are in relation to the rest of nature. Advanced technologies will challenge our sense of what it means to be human at the same time as the tide of extinction rolls on. The ongoing collapse of social and economic infrastructures, and of the web of life itself, will kill off much of what we value. In this context, ask yourself: what power do you have to preserve what is of value—creatures, skills, things, places? Can you work, with others or alone, to create places or networks that act as refuges from the unfolding storm? Can you think, or act, like the librarian of a monastery through the Dark Ages, guarding the old books as empires rise and fall outside?   ~ from Dark Ecology: Searching for truth in a post-green world, Paul Kingsnorth

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Recipe Thursday: Majorcan Stew

Our lovely local CSA has provided lately with almost all of the ingredients for this stew. It is hard to think of stew in the heat of Summer but this comes together rather quickly (all in all, about an hour) using both stovetop and oven – make sure to use an ovensafe pot to go straight from one to the other – and for Goddess sake – remember that the handles are hot – wear gloves and leave them on the pot so when you serve, you remember they will remain hot for a long while!! (I say all of this from painful experience). This stew (with the cheese and olives and maybe some fresh radish slices) makes a lovely waning light picnic out back – get your wide bowls and spoons and just go hang out there for awhile.

It is a deceiving dish, you may like many of these vegetables but not think they could be as luscious as this – it surprised us! And the bread is key – great for day old/stale/thawed frozen rustic breads. Another necessary piece is the Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera – not Hungarian sweet or Indian spicy) – if need be, you can order it online at somewhere like La Tienda – so worth having on hand, or if you are local to Portland, ME I’ve seen it at LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street or if in Santa Fe at the Santa Fe School of Cooking which has a wonderful shop full of goodies. Though I might have picked mine up in Madrid the last time I was there. There are different varieties of the smoked paprika, as well, (sweet, hot, bittersweet) – and that part is up to you and your individual taste.

Since you are likely ordering or searching for kooky ingredients (like pimenton) you might as well try and find the Moroccan black oil-cured olives that contrast so incredibly with this stew (I surprisingly find them at the regular grocery store – they are the ones you always avoid – thick, black, wrinkly, and face grimacing – but get a few, with the right dish, they will amaze you, too! They are Josh’s favorites.) And maybe some Majorcan sheep or Majorero goat cheese or at least Spanish Tetilla or some other sexy Spanish cheese…both olives and cheese are just for nibbles between bites of stew, very optional and not needed. But if you’re making a thing of it – which sometimes we are all wont to do!

This is slightly adapted but made many many times from a Bon Appetit recipe from almost 20 years ago. You can certainly make this completely vegan or not: use vegetable or chicken broth – or make your own, I keep a freezer bag full of veggie ends for a broth when I need it – things like garlic, onion, carrot, parsley, celery. In a 2 quart pot I boil some water, add a small potato or yam and sometimes a tomato if that is the flavor profile I wish, other herbs if I desire, or fennel/mushrooms/green beans/spinach. I do not add Summer squashes, floret veg, asparagus, peppers or bitter greens but finding a preferred fat and a preferred sweetness adds to the body. Carmelizing onions in ghee or olive oil can build body, or adding beer or wine, or in lieu of potato/yam I can use a half cup of cooked white beans. I add spices such as turmeric, chili powder, S&P to taste, sometimes a little cumin (but not too much unless you are hoping for a curry flavor), etc. My fresh herb tip, too, is to put them all together in a coffee cup and use my kitchen shears to chop away at them for a minute or two, then add to recipe. Onto the Stew!

Majorcan Stew

Serves 4-6

3-5 Tbsp good quality Olive Oil
1 Large Vidalia Onion, finely chopped
1 Large Green Bell Pepper (or 1/2 green, 1/2 red for extra sweetness), chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
6 cups Green Cabbage (about 1/2 Large head), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups Cauliflower florets (about 1/4-1/2 small head), chopped small
2 Large Tomatoes (or 1/2 of Lg can of whole tomatoes), chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (see tip above)
1 1/2 tsp fresh Thyme, chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika (or to taste), I use a bit to dust before serving, as well
about 5 cups Broth (veg/chick or a mix
1 cup Spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
8 thick slices of Rustic Bread (not chunky but a nice dense chewy country bread), 1/2-1″ slices (roughly 4 x 3″)

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in Lg heavy ovenproof pot over Med-High Heat.

Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, saute until golden and beginning to soften (about 7 min). Stir in cabbage & cauliflower, saute about 5 min.

Add tomatoes, herbs; sprinkle with S&P. Simmer 5 min.
Add paprika and stir 30 sec.
Add broth and bring to a low boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 min.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

After covered simmer stir in spinach; simmer uncovered 3 minutes. Season to taste with S&P. Immerse 4 bread slices in broth in bottom of pot. Place remaining bread slices half submerged on top of stew (I try and alternate their placement from the bottom slices if I can remember where I put them).

Generously drizzle them with Olive Oil, sprinkle lightly with Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and bake uncovered 10 min. The tops of the bread should get golden and crisp. Dust with more Pimenton if desired before serving.

AGAIN – be careful taking out of the oven, all handles are hot, and will remain so throughout serving – use protection. And Enjoy!






{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Full moon, cosmic convergences, and chickens. That’s our life in a nutshell (what kind of nut? We have always decided our child is more of a hazelnut, we call her Philbert sometimes).

We’ve started introducing our ‘cheens’, as Duende calls the chicken teenagers (aka pullets), to the free ranging lifestyle. They get out a bit each day around their coop with supervision and treats to get them when we call. They are enjoying it. They came with a ‘free exotic’ that turns out to be a Golden Polish Rooster (neither of which we desire on this homestead, the former because they are not Winter hearty, the latter because we do not want fertilized eggs or charging roosters) and he is doing a pretty good job right now but he will have to get a new home soon. Which is a shame because he’s beautiful but his poof makes it hard for him to see so we put a rubberband in it so he can function. Silly chicken. Need a high maintenance rooster or show chicken?

So, Duende has been the chicken-sitter. She builds little gardens for them and huts out of wild carrot. A few of them are really sweet and friendly and like her attentions.

Meanwhile the other little meat birds are finally ensconced in their chicken tractor (which is brilliant – Josh did an amazing job on the charming layer coop and the savvy tractor) and enjoying fresh grass and bugs. Happy chickens make a happy homestead. Happy children make a happy world!

Tuesday 2-Do’s

  • Final touches on the chicken tractor and the chicken coop
  • Blackberry picking has begun! Jam and Syrups soon to be available.
  • New Items to Order: Braided (pretzel type) Bread, Garlic Pizza Dough, and soon Rye Bread and Sourdough Flatbreads, and Pickles!
  • Red Clover Wine is fermenting away, considering Goldenrod in the next batch.
  • Fall Teas are drying nicely; medicinal, delicious, small batch combos – chamomile, cleavers, calendula, the ever important and lovely red clover, goldenrod, yarrow, cinquefoil, raspberry leaf, bee balm, mullein – soon echinacea, primrose flower, lemon balm, hyssop…
  • Pulled fingerling potatoes, garlic, and white onions yesterday – good haul!
  • Seed saving has begun – pansies and false indigo, calendula is up next
  • In the house we are getting ready to put in a new kitchen/dining floor of wide white pine (stained grey with tea and vinegar)
  • Getting ready for a new stove that will better the baking and living (goodbye my darling 1955 Philco – you are adorable and strong, just not strong enough for our homestead)
  • Redesigning the laundry room into a pantry and the linen closet into the laundry
  • Rebuilding the library collection (between all our moving and shaking through the years, we have downsized so many times we have major gaps that we must remedy) – we get 2 books a month toward this endeavor – so far: James Baldwin (No Name in the Street), Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man), Mahasweta Devi (The Queen of Jhansi), Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)…though we did just splurge and get a good stack for the homestead and for school & work, too (books on fermentation, biochar, ecology, philosophy, etc)
  • We have a fantasy we will make it to a Bread & Puppet show or circus since they are making it safe and sound for audience members (and right now politically, it’s bound to be dynamite!) but we shall see, so many things to negotiate in order to make that trek.
  • And a research trek to be planned to the Good Life Center to visit the Nearing library.

Much to do, much to do – Happy Sturgeon, Green Corn, Wheat Harvest, Blueberry Moon!

Quadruple Berry Pie

Monday’s Muse

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
~ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare


Seasonal Celebrations: Josh’s Panzanella (i.e. Bread Salad)

Lughnasadh, Lammas, or even Freyfaxi, and Perunov den, in addition to Hopi Snake and Flute dances, and Native American Eagle dances – all within the mid summer (not be confused, apparently, with Midsummer, which is somehow actually Summer Solstice and not the middle of Summer at all, like the approximation of August 1st – even though County Kerry in Ireland celebrates a 400 yr old Puck Fair now, as well) focus on a wealth of semi-related seasonal aspects: grain (the health and wealth of the coming harvest), the usefulness and relation of thunderstorms/lightning/rain, and something about horses (likely sacrifice for the other aspects to do their magick). You likely know related stories – of Persephone (sometimes relegated to Mabon or Fall Equinox), of Lugh & Balor or Crom (he lives in the erf), or as we still focus on – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (someday I may take on the disputed timeline/understanding of this play’s events as the buried remnants of Lughnasadh – or the true midsummer).

The latter works nicely for us as homeschoolers – we get to focus on a little Shakespeare, reading or discussing, enacting or arting a faerie evening (and Puck is only a shade different than a duende…the same ilk, those mischievous wood sprites) – though to find an exciting version with lovely Arthur Rackham illustrations is a feat in itself.

As with most of our seasonal celebrations we focus our feasts on what is in season and sensible for the season – grilling, Summer salads, early berries, high Summer foraging, early-mid potatoes, and though grain isn’t technically something we grow (or would be harvesting) it is always in season here and is celebrated now. Making grain or grass braids, basket making, playing horseshoes, art about rain and storms or just lying in the grass talking about clouds and even a small get together around some lovely food and Summer meads. I’m thinking of a Mixed Meats Grill with whole garlic, bundles of herbs, and halved lemons, parchment packets of local fresh Mushrooms and wine, Josh’s Panzanella – Bread Salad (a remarkably different and preferable version to the one I had in Tuscany), Triple Berry Pie (Black and Red Raspberries are in, Blueberries, and even a few Blackberries!) with Homemade Ice Cream and if I am really ambitious some Daylillies stuffed with ricotta.

Happy True-Mid-Summer!

Josh’s Panzanella

Serves 6

1 loaf of stale crusty Bread (I save boule or baguette ends and keep in freezer, this is great for that – thaw and toast a bit if moist, not for sliced bread in a bag kind of bread – but something with heft and structure), cut into 1″ cubes
2 Med Cucumbers, chopped into big bite-size chunks
6 Large ripe Tomatoes (or 3 pints Cherry Tomatoes – halved, or 8 slicing/vine Tomatoes), chopped into bite-size chunks
1 Med Red Onion, diced
3-4 cloves of Garlic, smashed & chopped or minced
a good handful of fresh Basil Leaves, torn roughly
a good dose or 2 of Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar, to taste
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

In a big bowl add bread and vegetables, onion/garlic/basil, then a good pour all over of Olive Oil and half that pour of Red Wine Vinegar – using your hands (always the best tools) work it all together gently but slightly bruising the cukes and slightly squishing the tomatoes, mix in a little salt & pepper to taste. Adjust Olive Oil/Red Wine Vinegar, S&P as needed. Let sit for at least an hour to overnight to let all the good stuff meld – if refrigerating overnight (recommended) let come to room temperature before serving.

When we are feeling really decadent sometimes we add pitted/split Kalamata olives and Feta cheese (if you would rather a vegan or additional protein/crunch addition, add a handful of Toasted Sliced Almonds). Enjoy!