August is nearly over and Labor Day weekend is upon us. The summer has flown by as usual and the children have all returned to school. Most people will probably attend some sort of end of the summer “last hurrah” celebration this weekend. Farmers’ Market is just the place to buy supplies. Our meat vendors can provide hot dogs, hamburgers, and brats for your grilling needs. Heck, why not go all out and purchase some steak? Of course, you can find a wide variety of cheese for those burgers or to cut into chunks for a cheese tray. Many kinds of pie, cookies, and other sweet treats can be purchased for dessert. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound; no Labor Day celebration would be complete without sweet corn and watermelon.
I, too, will be celebrating this weekend as I attend the out-of-state wedding of a college roommate. Normally, leaving the farm during the height of produce season is impossible. However, I am blessed with great family and friends who are willing to pitch in and help so that I am able to make the trip. I will be sending trusty representatives to fill in for me at Farmers’ Market.
It has been a very busy week trying to make sure I have everything in order before I leave. Not only do I have to have my produce picked and ready to go, I am doing the flowers for the wedding, so I need to cut them Friday morning as well. I will make up centerpieces in antique blue mason jars on Saturday morning before the wedding. I grow an assortment of old-fashioned cut flowers such as zinnias, cosmos, gladiolus, and various varieties of celosia, all of which will be used in the arrangements. Back in May when we first discussed the flowers my friend specifically mentioned that she would like a lot of sunflowers. So, I did a special late planting, which I knew should be at their peak for the wedding.
Last week between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, thanks to my new rain gauge, I know that we received over four inches of rain, an incredible amount for the end of August. When I went out to inspect my field Friday morning, my heart sank as the one thing affect by all of that rain was my sunflower patch. They were all knocked over and laying on the ground. As luck would have it, though, they were not broken off at the base, but rather just bent over at the roots. With the help of some tomato stakes, fence posts, and bailer twine, in just over an hour I had them standing upright once again. They are doing well and there is no sign of the near disaster. They will be beautiful at the wedding.
For those who need to take a side dish to a Labor Day cookout, there are many easy recipes, which when made with fresh interesting vegetables from Farmers’ Market, will make you look like a gourmet cook. Fresh dill in potato salad kicks it up a notch. Fresh basil with colorful heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella is quick and tasty. Here is a super easy bean salad recipe that is great because it can be made up the night before and kept in the refrigerator. I have so many good fresh things at my finger tips right now, but not much time to actually cook them, so quick and easy are the key words for me when trying recipes at this time of year. This recipe (allrecipes.com) calls for Romano Beans, which are flat-podded Italian style beans. Regular green beans are a fine, if somewhat boring, substitute; trying a different type of bean certainly makes the dish stand out.
Romano Bean Salad
· 1 lb. fresh romano or green beans, trimmed
· 2 garlic cloves, sliced
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 fresh mint leaves, torn
· Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
· 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
· 2 mint leaves for garnish
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook uncovered until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and set aside in a large bowl. Smash garlic, olive oil, mint, and salt using mortar and pestle. Pour vinegar and half of olive oil mixture over beans and toss well. Transfer beans to a re-sealable freezer bag. Pour remaining olive oil mixture into bag, squeeze out all air, seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Remove beans from refrigerator, top with fresh mint and serve.