Friday, September 4, 2009

September....

Fall is on the horizon.

It's hard to believe, given the rotten summer we had! I'm not usually sentimental about summer, the cool weather usually suits me, but it was a chilly summer, and my own tomatoes are a month late: this time last year I was drowning under a pile of homegrown love apples... This year, my canning jars are waiting to be filled.

However, real farmers are busy at this time of the year. Now is the time to hurry on to the nearest farmers' market if you only ever go once a year! Everything, or almost, can be bought by the bushel, and if you like a bargain you will be served! Tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, cukes... If you're into canning your own tomato sauce or making pickles, you can get some pretty sweet deals -and the prices should get better as the season moves along.

There are some things that are more perishable, and therefore would not be suitable as a bulk purchase, such as squash blossoms. These pretty flowers can be of the male or the female persuasion. The females will have a baby squash -most often a zucchini- attached to it. These are pricey (around 1$ a pop) and must be eaten the day you purchase them. Ideally, you will buy a couple this year to try them out if you've never eaten a squash blossom, and next year you will plant some squash so you can pig out on them. When you do bring some home, check them out for bugs and dirt, and only wash them if they are dirty: the blossoms are really fragile and require gentle handling. It is best to remove the organ inside as it can be bitter. Next is the fun part: stuffing! The simplest would be some cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, soft goat cheese), any herb you have on hand, and voilà! The blossoms can be steamed a couple of minutes to melt the cheese, or deep fried either in a light batter or a generous dusting of flour (dip them in milk to make it stick). However, the stuffing can be anything you want: diced tomatoes with basil; a ratatouille; chopped zucchini; quinoa; you are only limited by your imagination.

Bon app'!

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