I’ve been cooking a lot lately–mostly because we belong to a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) that delivers us a giant box of fresh veggies every week, and we have to either eat them or decide how to preserve them for eating later. Here are a few treats I’ve formulated to help us deal with the bounty of late summer produce out here on the high plains.
First, inspired by a cocktail I had a few weeks ago on my birthday night out, I’ve figured out how to make cucumber and mint-infused gin and tonics. (The photo at right really doesn’t do the drink justice–in real life, the drink has a kind of absinthe-greeny glow.) Here’s the recipe for one–double, triple, or quadruple as you wish:
Cucumber and mint-infused gin and tonic
- 5 slices cucumber
- 6-8 mint leaves
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 t sugar
- 1 shot gin
- tonic water
Muddle the cucumber, mint, lime wedge, and sugar in a cocktail strainer or large glass. Really mash it all up to extract the cucumber and lime juices and mint oils. Add a shot of gin and stir to combine. Strain mixture into a highball glass with a few ice cubes in it, and fill with tonic. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of mint, and serve. Cheers! (I love veggies in cocktails–I made a really yummy bloody mary last summer with the same basic technique, lightly crushing garden tomatoes and herbs before adding the vodka. Don’t strain that one–serve it with a spoon!)
Next, I made a shortbread crust plum and pear tart. I skimped on the sugar, so the filling wasn’t quite as sweet as it should have been, but the crust turned out well, and the textures and juices were just right. I guess I’ll just have to make another one to get it right! We had dinner in-between the cocktail and dessert, which was a casserole of grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, ricotta, and sausage–another good way to eat up the summer’s bounty.
What are your favorite late summer treats, or tricks for preserving or eating up your gardens before the first frost?
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