The Harvest of the Month at Sustainable Connections for June is Salad Greens. I decided to pair the salad greens with a chunky, creamy, cheddar salad dressing. The creamy salad dressing is perfect with crisp salad greens fresh from local farms or the farmer’s market.
I have a confession to make: I drive like a city person. People who live in cities tend to drive closer to the center line. It makes sense because you need to take care when passing the cars parked along the sidewalk. A door might fly open or someone might step out from behind a bumper. The city can be hazardous!
People who learn to drive in the country tend to gravitate toward the shoulder. This also makes sense because you need to leave plenty of room for hay wagons and tractors, especially if the tractor is pulling a rake or a tedder. Farm equipment can indiscriminately drift into the oncoming lane so it’s best to give plenty of room. The country can be hazardous!
My brother-in-law Gerald tried to convince me to change my errant ways, but I really believe that its part of my city bred DNA to be magnetically attracted to the center line. I was headed to the farm the other day when Gerald met me on the road. He was driving a tractor and I was weaving back and forth trying to avoid him but still hugging my beloved center line. He pretended that he didn’t know me.
Part of country life that I enthusiastically embrace is shopping for produce from local farms. Now is the season when the produce farms are in high gear and the bounty overflows. If you can get fresh produce from a local farm, by all means do it. One of my favorite places to go is Bob and Vivian Small’s farm just up the road from us. They don’t have a very big variety and they are only open on Saturdays, but what they have is ripened on the plant and fresh picked. They opened last Saturday so I made sure to stop by and picked up cucumbers for the salad listed below.
Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad
2 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices (about 3 cups)
1 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and basil in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well. Serve immediately.
Part of the fun of marrying into the family business is the variety of jobs that I have had over the years. In the last twenty or so years I have done pretty much every job imaginable. I have packed boxes, baled Quark, made deliveries, done the bookkeeping and payroll, plus marketing and sales. One of my jobs back in the late 90’s, was to manage our booth at the farmer’s market in Bellingham.
The farmer’s market in Bellingham opened in 1993 and I shared the task of manning our booth. It was tiring work but I loved the camaraderie of the farmers. I loved the hot summer air rising from the blacktop parking lot. I loved the sounds of laughter and smells of food around me. The best thing that I got out of those days at the farmer’s market was from simply listening. I listened to the customers, what they wanted, what they needed, and what we could do for them. Those conversations and many more like it helped to shape our business and how we serve our customers today.
Feta was pretty exotic to most of the people I met at the Farmer’s Market back then. That seems so surprising with how mainstream it is now. Some shoppers had heard of it but most had never tried it. At that time, “cheese” meant orange cheddar, even white cheddar was a tough sell. Shoppers were hesitant to try new cheeses, and they weren’t sure how to react to feta’s rich, briny flavor and crumbly texture. Introducing people to a new cheese back then was pretty challenging but so much fun!
The latest trend in feta around here is matching it with fruit. Feta and watermelon is fabulous! Here is a favorite summer salad that pairs feta with strawberries. Strawberry season here is coming to an end, but lots of places have ever-bearing varieties.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
12 ounces baby spinach
16 ounces strawberries, washed, hulled and slices
4 ounces crumbled feta
1 cup nuts, chopped and toasted (I used walnuts here. Pecans also work well, but my favorite is slivered almonds)
I would feel really silly telling you how to make a salad, so I will leave that part to your imagination.