Summer time in the midwest is abundant beyond measure! Fragrant aromas waft from backyard gardens, farmer’s markets and road side stands overflowing with juicy produce. In late July and early August, the cukes and heirloom tomatoes are so tempting, they beg to be devoured straight from the vine.
This weekend, my family gathered at my grandmother’s lakeside home in Plymouth, Indiana, a quaint rural farming community in the Heartland. I treasure these “unplugged” weekends. Steeped in nature, relaxing with cousins and friends, we spend the afternoons swimming and kayaking together. Time to slow down and really connect “IRL”, as my kids would say. A bonus for me, though my girls would disagree, is that the cottage has no wifi. (IRL=In Real Life 🙂 for those not currently parenting teens.)
My grandmother’s cottage is tiny, and the efficient postage stamp kitchen is one of my favorite places to create new recipes. Steeped in her energy, for me this pint-sized kitchen is a temple dedicated to nourishing those most dear and to the ethic of creating beauty from what is at hand. Mornings at the lake are spent gathering vibrant produce from nearby farms to add to what I bring up from our own gardens. In the relative cool of the evening after hours of outdoor adventures, we gather for shared dinners on the breezy wide porch, serenaded by the frogs and cicadas. The pinks and oranges of the sunset dance on the water as if to tempt us in for one last swim.
In our ramblings about town this morning, we explored the farmer’s markets in Plymouth and nearby Culver, Indiana. Our efforts were rewarded with a succulent basketful of just picked, grown-with-love veggies.
Bodi, as my grandmother was known, grew up on a farm a couple of counties away. After surviving the austerity of the Great Depression, she served her country as a pilot in the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) as a civilian aviator attached to the US Army Air Force during World War II. After the war was over, like many of her female colleagues she found career opportunities constricted for her gender, and she settled into life as a home economics teacher and mother. Her early life experiences left an imprint, and whether she was raising a Victory garden or her family, she seemed to approach life with a quiet valor that invoked trust and comfort in those who had the good fortune to know her. By example rather than lecture, she taught me the importance of fortitude, and the beauty of simplicity.
It feels fitting that this recipe be developed in Bodi’s kitchen, as it celebrates the unadorned perfection of summer tomatoes & cool flavorful cucumbers, fresh fragrant basil & just a touch of salt and balsamic. These gorgeous veggies, grown with love and picked at their peak, speak for themselves.
Garden Fresh Tomato, Cucumber & Basil Salad
- 1 organic cucumber large
- 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes I used yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden
- 1 bunch basil leaves large handful
- coarse sea salt dash, to taste
- balsamic reduction glaze drizzle to taste
- Rinse the veggies to remove any sand or soil. Leaving the peel intact, dice the cucumber.Halve the cherry tomatoes.Make ribbons from the basil leaves by stacking the leaves and cutting in a chiffonade style.Place the diced cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes in a serving bowl. Toss with the ribbons of basil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and drizzle with balsamic reduction glaze to taste.Serve immediately and enjoy!