Readers, if you missed Fudge Day on Monday or Apple Strudel, Cherry Tart or Eat Your Vegetables days on Tuesday, there is still time to celebrate International Sushi Day today, Ice Cream Soda Day on Friday, Chocolate Eclair Day or Onion Rings Day on Sunday. These unusual or wacky special days are kind of fun and an excuse to treat yourself.
Even though June is more than halfway over, this month is a month for foodies. It's Candy Month, Country Cooking Month, Dairy Month, Soul Food Month and Iced Tea Month, all of which are fitting for the month when summer gardens are coming in. What country cooking or soul food meal would be complete without iced tea?
Speaking of gardens and farms, 2014 has been designated the Year of Family Farming.
To focus on these gardeners and farmers, Nedra Baldwin of Biloxi, Miss., shares some fresh vegetable recipes, and I have a few country-cooking favorites that were passed down from my grandmother. These recipes feature vegetables that are in season and available from area farmers in some supermarkets and at Real Foods markets and farmers' markets on the Mississippi Coast and in Florida.
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For a light summer meal, Baldwin suggests a rainbow pasta salad that uses fresh broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and onions. Corn scraped from the cob can be used in place of the canned whole kernel corn. No meat is used in this salad.
RAINBOW PASTA SALAD
1 package (16 ounces) tricolor spiral pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can (15- 1/2 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained or 2 to 3 ears of fresh shucked corn (cooked for a couple of minutes in microwave)
1 jar (6- 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1 bottle (8 ounces) Italian salad dressing
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl; add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Yield: 12 to 14 servings.
-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Taste of Home magazine, June/July 2000
This vegetable salad puts an Italian twist on a cold salad. Low-fat or fat-free dressings make this dish only 121 calories per serving.
ITALIAN VEGETABLE SALAD
5 cups broccoli florets (1 large bunch)
5 cups cauliflower florets (1 small head)
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives
1 bottle (8 ounces) Italian salad dressing (can use low-fat or fat-free)
1 bottle (8 ounces) creamy Italian salad dressing
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large salad bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Combine salad dressings; pour over vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Stir in cheese just before serving. Yield: 14 servings.
Nutritional data per serving: For salad prepared with fat-free salad dressings, calories, 121; sodium, 531 milligrams; cholesterol, 10 milligrams; carbohydrates, 11 grams; protein, 6 grams; fat, 6 grams. Diabetic exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1- 1/2 fat.
-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Taste of Home magazine February/March 2000
2 medium zucchini
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil (fresh is best)
Slice zucchini in1/4-inch rounds. In a small bowl, mix other ingredients. Spread over slices of zucchini. Broil 5 inches from broiler 30 to 40 seconds or until golden brown.
8 ears fresh corn
1/2 cup milk (I use fat-free half-and-half)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
Cut corn from cob and add milk, salt and pepper. Put butter or margarine in skillet. When hot and melted, add corn. Cook until tender. Just before ready to take up add eggs and beat in well. Heat thoroughly. Serve hot.
Yield: 6 servings.
2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced about1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
4 to 5 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced or can use 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, but fresh is best
1 (15- 1/2 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese
Peel and slice eggplants. Place on paper towels and sprinkle salt over the sliced. This takes the bitterness out of the eggplants. Let sit for 15 minutes or until moisture beads form on the eggplant. Pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.
In large saucepan, break up tomatoes. Add tomato sauce, herbs, garlic and chili powder. Let cook until slightly bubblings. Taste. Add sugar to taste.
While sauce is cooking dip eggplant slices into beaten egg and then in bread crumbs dusted with Parmesan cheese. Place on broiler pan and broil until eggplant begins to brown on top.
In 9-by-13-inch ovenproof dish, spoon 1 cup of sauce, place a layer of eggplant, 1 more cup of sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese,1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, ending with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Can serve with whole wheat spaghetti and salad.
For the non-cooks or those who just want to relax, it's Go Fishing Day today or Friday, put on your flip flops on for Flip Flop Day and grab your pooch and Take Your Dog To Work Day. If those don't suit you, Saturday try Skateboarding Day or Make Music Day. Happy weird special days.
Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at email@example.com, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.