Food & Garden: Slow Summer, Fast Feast! (recipes)

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What I love most about the Travelers Rest Farmers Market is the slowness of it all. I love smelling every scent of soap at Red Clay Soap, even though I'm quite familiar with them all. I love waiting five minutes for my Japanese style iced pour over from Leopard Forest, which is worth every last second it takes to get it in my hands. I love standing in line a little longer while shoppers in front of me ask question after question about the produce. I love waiting even longer still while the vendor has to weigh my produce multiple times because it's the end of the market and neither of us can remember the totals. I love walking around and saying hi to all of the vendors even though I'm all stocked up.

When it comes to cooking in the summer, though, speed is king. With the sun setting close to 9pm, I often forget that it's dinner time until it's too late. Those who know me well will tell you that there's a very short window from the time I announce being hungry til the “hanger” sets it. And with it being so hot, the thought of adding extra warmth to the house is unbearable.

Since it would be embarrassing to tell you that my summer dinners consist of a small bag of flavored almonds from Robin at Culinary Food Concepts or handfuls of cherry tomatoes, I'll provide you with some suggestions for quick summer or back to school fare. The emphasis on speed means I ignore recipes and just eyeball everything. I trust you can do the same.

Watermelon Salad

I was first introduced to the savory watermelon concept at a small, authentic Italian restaurant in New York City eight summers back. Now it's a summer staple for me. 

• Couple cups of cubed watermelon

• Couple tablespoons Clemson blue cheese or feta, crumbled

• Salt, pepper

• Couple splashes of balsamic vinegar

Mix it all up and enjoy. Sometimes I eat this last because it can trick my mind into thinking it's dessert.

Roasted Okra

Being in the South we think of fried okra, which is on my top five favorite foods list, it just turns out I'm not good at frying. So this method works just as well and allows the okra to do it's job, be a mechanism for the delicious salt and oil combo we can't resist.

This can be made on the grill or for nights when there's a summer storm you can make it in the oven quickly.  (Preheat oven to 450.)

• Couple handfuls whole okra, rinsed and dried

• Couple splashes of olive oil

• Salt, pepper

Toss together and place on baking sheet. Cook for 15-20, tossing every five to seven minutes.

Pasta and Patties

In our home, sauce is held in high esteem. But, again, because it would be embarrassing to admit that we would eat bowls of sauce for dinner, we find things top sop it up with. Turns out those things are also delicious. This is my combination of choice these days:

• Gluten free Naked Pasta noodles

• Culinary Food Concepts falafal patties

• Culinary Food Concepts butternut Alfredo sauce

Warm everything up according to package instructions and chow down.

(Photo attribution.)