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Finally, a Breather!

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September 1, 2011 by wcobserver

If you are like me, you probably have not been cooking much this summer. Here in the South it has been brutally hot and dry for over two months and I have not been in the mood to cook. Actually I have not been in the mood to do much of anything. Except of course to complain about the weather. Three months ago I was complaining about the overabundance of rain and cold temperatures. Feel free to remind me of this next summer. This week brought us three days of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. You could see the look of relief on every one’s face at the weekend farmer’s markets.

It has been a tough year for the farmers. What didn’t wash away in the spring never set fruit in the heat. And of what did, a lot burned up in the drought. Heavy invasions of insects decimated many a garden here. As the pastures dried up and died in July, most farmers have resorted to feeding their animals hay five months earlier than usual. Large round bales that usually sell for $25 are now selling for $90 and upwards. I spoke to a friend in Texas this week and she is driving a trailer next week to Ohio to buy hay. Small bales that she can buy in Ohio for $3 she can sell in Texas for $10. As she never eats vegetables of any kind, not even lettuce, she is worried about where meat prices are going. I hadn’t thought of that.

We are close to the end of the summer growing season here and are getting late season crops. Soon the farmers will plant fall vegetables like greens, carrots, onions and radishes. We are lucky to have another season  before winter sets in. Yesterday I was able to purchase eggplant, okra, tomatoes, melon, potatoes and squash, all grown locally. It’s time to take advantage of the springlike weather and great local produce to do some cooking. Today one of my favorite and easy summertime snacks Melitzanosalata-Greek eggplant dip.Some pita chips for dipping, a few sliced tomatoes with salt, cold watermelon, you have a nice, light meal. Perfect for a hot summer evening!

Melitzanosalata
Quantities flexible according to taste

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant
½ cup olive oil
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, mashed with a bit of salt
¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Directions:

Grill or broil the whole eggplant until the skin blackens and the flesh gets soft and collapses.

When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant and pulse in the food processor with the
other ingredients. Serve at room temperature with pita chips or slices of crusty bread.

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