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July 2010
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September 2010

August 2010

A little levity - Watermelon Cake

Watermelon cake 1

Watermelon cake 2
It's official! The National Weather Service has announced that this summer is the hottest one on record for Gainesville. Today marks the 43rd day of temperatures in the 90s. The previous record was in 1978, when there were 41 days of 90 degree weather between August 14 and September 23. This does not bode well at all.

What to do in the face of this bad news but ice some tea, slice up some watermelon, rinse off some more grapes, and make do . . .

Or make cake! When I was a little girl, my mom would make a pie or buy an ice cream cake for my birthday since I was not a big fan of traditional cake. When I grew up, my daughter made me this cake. A lovely surprise - light, cool, juicy, and whimsical - just right for an August birthday. Or to get your mind off the unrelenting heat.

Watermelon Cake
Watermelon, preferably seedless
Heavy whipping cream, small container
Vanilla or lemon yogurt
Mango pieces and/or blueberries (or chocolate chips if you are so inclined) for decoration.

Cut through the width of the watermelon, then cut again, 4 or 5 inches away from the first cut to create a round disk (cake shape!). Place on a fancy plate. Whip small container of heavy cream until peaks form. Measure out about 2 cups of whipped cream and fold in 1 cup yogurt, until just barely mixed together. Apply to watermelon disk like you are frosting a cake. Decorate as you wish. (I usually use mangoes and blueberries, but this one was for a chocolate lover's August birthday).

 


Summer Beans and Rice Salad

Summer beans and rice
Trying to eat healthy and local during a Gainesville summer is a challenge. It's too hot to grow much,and the farmers market reflect it. Thank goodness for muscadines, boiled peanuts, mangoes, watermelon, and blueberries!

Fortunately, there are also nutritious cherry tomatoes and peppers still coming in as well. Tossed with good old beans and rice and a little Super Salad Dressing, they make a pretty and healthy dinner.

Summer Beans and Rice Salad

  • 2 cups of rice mixed with 1 or 2 cups of cooked beans (I used black beans and basamati rice mixed with the last of the wild rice from our trip to Minnesota.)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/4 cup mango
  • A sprinkling of scissored chives and/or mint leaves
  • Super Salad Dressing (1/2 rice vinegar, 1/2 vegetable oil, a little salt)

Mix it together, and you've got yourself a simple, meal for a hot summer night. Especially good with a side of watermelon or grapes.


Summertime Goat Cheese Pizza

Goat cheese pizza 2
We celebrated a birthday this weekend with children and adult guests, and we knew pizza would be appreciated. What a simple, delicious use of market veggies this time of year! It's quick to prepare, quick to cook in the heat - and we even used local goat cheese for our very local pizza.

Crust: 

1 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cups warm water
1 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
About 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

A sprinkling of olive oil
Four-six ounces of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 or 2 large ripe red tomatoes, sliced
1 green bell pepper,sliced
1 or 2 jalapenos, minced
A dozen whole basil leaves
5 ounces goat cheese
greek olives, opt.
a sprinkle of dried oregano if you have it

Measure 1 cups of flour into mixing bowl. Mix in yeast, salt, and sugar. Add water and olive oil and whisk together thoroughly. Add remaining flour one-half cup at a time, switching whisk for a wooden spoon as the dough thicken. Finally, abandon the spoon and use your hands, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from becoming sticky. Knead for 8-10 minutes and set aside. 

Slice tomatoes and peppers, mince jalapenos, and separate leaves from basil stems. Preheat oven to 450. Oil pan (cookie sheet, jelly roll pan, official pizza pan, etc. - I used a 14" round pizza pan) and then roll out the dough to fit. Sprinkle dough very lightly with olive oil and spread over the crust with your flat hand. Lightly spread the pizza sauce on top. Arrange tomato slices, peppers, basil, and olives (and whatever else you've got). Flatten pinches of goat cheese over the veggies. Bake for 10-15 minutes on the middle rack. 

One of the beauties of pizza is that you can top it with what you've got - add eggplant in the summer, squash in the spring, cherry tomatoes if you've got them, rosemary instead of basil... Leave off the spaghetti sauce for a more adult version. Leave off the jalapenos for the kids. Use local cheeses if you can, and vary them; there's no law that says it must be mozzarella. I'm impressed that so many cultures have some type of flat bread and veggie dish - from matzo and charoset, to pita and falafel, to tortilla and refries, to nan and lentils. Enjoy making your own Gainesville version!