To Market, to Market, to Market We Go!

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With July 4th almost on us… and in my mind, the mid-point of summer, a thought left over from my own school days… farmer’s markets have sprung up all around us. From road side truck beds full of tomatoes and watermelons to multi-block affairs with protective roofs in big cities, there are opportunities in every area to procure fresh foods for our summer family suppers and celebrations! On our recent trip to Spain (where I took these photos), we were enthralled with the beautiful multi-storied Mercados¬† that displayed fish and meats on one level, fresh fruits and vegetables on another along with deli style stalls with cheese, breads and olives!

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How daring are you? Think you could invite friends to join you for dinner without a clue as to what you are going to cook? Or maybe, a bit less daring with a few ideas up your sleeve, but nothing on concrete until you get to the market and see what looks good. I have been known to plan everything down to every last morsel as well as just throw caution to the wind and hit the markets! It is certainly easier now that I can look up recipes online by ingredients and quickly have dozens, even hundreds of choices!

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This year, we have our own mini ‘farmers market’ in our backyard which is overgrown with cucumbers and includes squash, jalapenos, cayenne peppes, red bell peppers and, that old Southern standby, tomatoes. I have Googled cucumbers right and left because cucumber salad is good, but we are in need of some variety!

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So… with cucumbers on the brain, let me share with you my favorite recipe for marinated cucumbers. This is similar to the recipe my mom used for cucumber sandwiches, which were a staple at summer teas in the South. At least in our part of the South! I’ll give the variation for the tea sandwiches as well!

Marinated Cucumbers

1 cup Rice Vinegar

1/4 Canola Oil (or VERY light Olive Oil)

16 pkts of Splenda sweetner (you can use sugar, about 1/3 c – 1/2 c, or to taste. A sweet-n-sour effect)

1 1/2 tsp dried basil (or 4-5 fresh leaves, chiffonade cut)

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together.

Peel, halve and thinly slice one onion (we like sweet yellow onion varieties like Vadalia)

Peel, halve, seed and cut into 1/4″ half moon slices.

Toss onions and cukes in a glass container. Pour dressing over and toss gently once more. Cover and refrigerate, stirring every day. Will keep 3-4 days, the more they marinate, the better!

Tea Sandwich Variation:

Make marinade as above. Slice the cucumbers and the onions so thin you could almost read thru them. Marinate overnight, at least.

For each sandwich, cut the crust off of 2 slices of good quality white bread (not rustic white, instead opt for grocery store-1950s-variety WASP white bread) . Spread each slice generously with a high quality mayonnaise (my momma used Hellman’s, so that is what I use).¬† Drain cucumbers with a slotted spoon and place a couple of layers on the mayonnaise, then top with the other slice of bread. Cut into desired shapes… or forget the tea sandwich aspect and just eat! :)

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