Here's the truth: I'm done with Summer. D-O-N-E done. Haven't experienced much of it... While being sick for most of June and all July, I went to the parties, showers and weddings that fill up my calendar every summer no matter how antisocial I've been the rest of the year, sitting through the swelter in a cough syrup induced hallucinatotory state. What I ate, I can't tell you. I haven't been cooking either. Eating in this humidity/heat is a challenge, one I've failed at miserably most days, even with the help of raw cookbooks and the everlovin' crockpot. Today being a little cooler so far, I've thought about food in an interested way for the first time in some time. I've watched Julie & Julia, I've looked at old Bon Appetit and Food and Wine magazines, and then-- I decided to skip over August and go straight to September.
My favorite month, September-- you get cooler days and warm days with cool nights. It's the best month for eating outside, hiking, baking pies, drinking cocktails in the backyard, and brewing beer. There's great vegetables at the Farmer's Market and in the stores. Red wine feels right, cinnamon starts to seem alluring again. So, although the baking part will have to wait, I'm skipping the reality of summer and subbing my idealized version that is called early Autumn by most.
I'm also making use of a cabbage that's been knocking around in my crisper for two weeks. Thank goodness it keeps, because lately I've survived on salads and sandwiches-- and the Tried & True vegetable relish recipe I'm using makes the best addition to a sandwich ever. It's a standby for 20 years, now, a gem taken from Laurel's Kitchen. Which, if you're looking for a first vegetarian cookbook for someone, would be my first choice hands down. It's family friendly, not full of overly rare ingredients or overly artful recipes: real everyday eating. Most of the recipes I've prepared from Laurel's have become standbys, in fact. And the beautiful quality of the writing keeps me reading it for inspiration as well.
Here's the relish-- it's needs to sit overnight before using, but then it keeps for weeks and weeks in the fridge, and makes an awesome Reuben style sandwich; I like to use smoked tofu sliced and sauteed for the filling, along with mustard instead of Thousand Island dressing, and some mild cheese, though it works without.
QUICK VEGETABLE RELISH
2 C shredded green cabbage, packed
1/2 C grated carrot, packed
1/2 C very thinly sliced red onion (use any onion you have)
1/2 C very thinly sliced green pepper**
2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp distilled vinegar***
Combine all ingredients, then pack into a pint-sized jar. Add enough water to cover, if needed-- about 1/4 cup. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Makes 2 C (the vinegar shrinks the veggies). Store in refrigerator.
**you can also use some red bell pepper for some of the green; or for a spicier touch, a small amount of thinly sliced chili along with this, but use sparingly-- the vinegar carries the heat.
***Red or white wine or even cider vinegar works too, the red of course tints the relish.
Use a big tablespoonful of this on any sandwich to add crunch and zest, or serve it in small amounts on the side of something rich, as a pickle.
Here's to cooler breezes and crisp days! Peace, Mari