We may have a couple of evenings left that could dip into the 50s, but for the most part we are ready to bring on the summer salads. I’m talking about the cold stuff for the hot days. I’ve cooked the last of the turnips (thank you, Mr. Bubble) and have taken notice of the better fruit on the supermarket shelves.
Just last Saturday I had some fantastic watermelon, right here in mid-April. Have you heard of such? I’m not sure where it came from but it tasted like a summer melon to me. Let’s face it, we don’t have to get too used to winter root vegetables around here. They are fun while they’re around but our summer season lasts as long as anywhere else in these 50 states.
My tomato plants are growing like Audrey II thanks to a prick of my finger and just the right amount of rain. I’m doing everything in pots this year. It’s easier for me to find full sun that way. No, I don’t grow from seed, but I’ve only had these a couple of weeks and they look far better than the ones I’ve had the past couple of years. I expect a good crop, knock on wood. Along with tomatoes, peppers are a must. It seems jalapeños are the easiest thing to grow in Mobile. I can’t wait for the first salsa or the first tomato sandwich.
I’m not growing corn, but I’m hoping Mr. Bubble has more than he can handle. He’s my Midtown hookup and has almost perfected the art of the year-round city garden. If he can get his summer crops to produce as well as his winter ones, my part of Midtown will never go hungry. I’ll have to find something to barter with him. Especially if the corn is sweet. If he doesn’t come through, I may be able to squeeze a few ears from Tim Barnhill in Baldwin County.
When it comes to peas, I always hated shelling the buggers. My adult appreciation for them has grown so that I would gladly shell a bushel a day for one serving per night. For me any fresh peas will do, but butter peas perk me up the most.
Butterbeans, baby limas and the big white ones fall in that order, while pinkeye purple hull are favored to black-eyed peas but let’s face it, any pea or bean will do in a pinch. I’m looking for a hookup if you know anybody. Otherwise the farmer’s markets will see me a good bit.
In the fruit department, I eat apples all year long. Locally I look for fresh melons and berries. I love wild dewberries and don’t mind the search or the picking. I have a blueberry bush this year and a whole lot of wishing.
But the most important, find other than the short season of peaches, is the almighty watermelon. Cantaloupe and honeydew are fine for a salad but the right watermelon can cure what ails you. We think of Smith County, Mississippi, as the place for watermelons much as Chilton County is the place for peaches. It’s one of those things most accept as the gospel.
Long before the peach ice cream or the strawberry shortcake finds their way here, I will be ready for the corn salads. Here’s something old and something new, something onion and something blue.
The first of these is a recipe that has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past two years. If your corn isn’t sweet enough, the blueberries and honey will set you on your way. If you’ve not had it yet, expect a southwestern flavor with a welcomed sweet twist. The second showcases green onion and tomatoes for something deeply Southern.
Corn and Blueberry Salad
• 6 ears of fresh corn, boiled in salted water until tender
• 1 cup fresh blueberries
• 1 medium cucumber, sliced
• 1/4 cup chopped red onion
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
Remove the corn from the cob. In a mixing bowl combine the fruit and vegetables. Pour dressing over mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Variations could include a bit of chili powder or hot sauce.
Khaki’s Corn Salad
While the former recipe is certainly exciting and trending as we speak, this one is a mainstay. It’s the one my mom has made for years. We even do this with canned shoepeg corn when the ears aren’t fresh. We use mayonnaise for the dressing, so adjust accordingly as if you were making potato salad. While it rests, the juice from the tomatoes will turn it a bit soupy. That’s when you know it’s ready.
• 6 ears of fresh corn, preferably white,
sweet corn boiled until tender
• 1 cup of fresh diced tomatoes
• 1/2 cup of chopped green onion
• Salt and black pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise, give or take
This is exactly what you’d expect. Add the mayo last and check for desired consistency. I’d start with 1/4 cup and go from there. My like-minded mom and I prefer a near overdose of black pepper. At least add it until you can see it. Overnight in the fridge is a good idea. The green onions are what keep this recipe my favorite. That and the fact that I at some point will have sourced all of the ingredients locally. If you had a slice of cornbread handy it would not be a bad thing.
Bring on the good stuff. Grow your own. Create your own recipes. Eat local!