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Bea Westerberg column: Dog days of summer call for cool foods

Bea Westerberg may be contacted at bea.in.the.wool@gmail.com.

Oh boy, the fall thing is starting to come in big in the advertising world. I am starting to see ads for Halloween stuff and recipes for the typical fall things like apples, pumpkins and chili.

Slow down and embrace the last month of summer goodies.

Fall will be here soon enough and have its own goodies. I have about a 12-feet high stack of recipes plus the Internet.

We still will have a number of those hot days when cooking and preparing food is going to be a pain in a place we all have. I checked out some fun and hopefully easy recipes to use our summer goodies and keep the kitchen heat down.

Liquids are necessary and this time of year a lot of us are getting a water overload. We need the water but the taste of plain water is getting old, very old. It may seem like I have stock in the cucumber business since I have mentioned them in two previous articles but this is a very good use of the cuke.

Cuke cooler

1-½ cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped cucumbers

1-½ cups water

½ cup ginger-lime syrup

1 cup fresh lime juice

Ice.

HOW TO: Process cucumbers and water in a blender or food processor for 15 to 20 seconds or until smooth. Transfer to a pitcher, and stir in the ginger-lime juice syrup and lime juice. Serve over ice and garnish with a cucumber slice. You decide how many it will serve.

Ginger-lime syrup can be purchased or Google for a recipe. Nice to have the syrup on hand to just add to water.

Of course, there may be a time when an addition of a gin, vodka, rum or tequila may be so necessary.

There will be plenty of time for fall soup and in fact that time will be right for many cold months to come. Now is the time to have a cold soup. The cold soup can be either fruit based or savory based, with the fruit base usually considered a dessert.

However, when Margaret and I started our tea parties off in the spring and summer months, a cold fruit soup was the first course. How about a sangria with a different base of tomatoes, corn, and orange juice?

Cold soup

Chilled kernels from 2 medium ears of cooked fresh corn

4 pounds of beefsteak types tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

1-½ cups orange juice

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon chili powder — you adjust to your taste

1 Tablespoon Grenadine syrup; salt

10 cured black olives, pitted and sliced thin.

HOW TO: In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill or fine sieve over a large bowl, makes approximately 7 cups of juice. Stir in the orange juice, lime juice, chili powder, and the grenadine syrup, season with the salt. Chill.

Ladle the chilled soup into cups. Garnish with the olive slices and corn kernels.

Also, you can use cherry tomatoes or other summer veggies for a garnish.

Back in my younger days of very serious veggie gardening, I grow about 20 different varieties of eggplant. Yes, there really are several hundred different kinds so I was doing just the tip of iceberg. They come in all kinds of colors, shapes, sizes and flavors. They made wonderful table decorations but I also got a recipe from a neighbor that I consider my classic eggplant recipe. Even people who swear on a stack of Bibles that eggplant will never touch their lips, may like this!

Asian Eggplant Dip

3 medium eggplant - small dices

2 cups chopped scallions

2-3 Tablespoon chilli pepper paste OR ½ cup diced chilies

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup soy sauce

½ rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups diced red sweet bell peppers

peanut oil.

HOW TO; One layer at a time, sauté diced eggplant with a bit of peanut oil. Set eggplant aside and in the same pan add more oil and add all the other ingredients except for the red bells. Cook until sauce is slightly syrupy. Add back the eggplant and now put the diced sweet bells in and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

May be served warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate unused portion up to a week. Chips made from wonton wrappers are my favorite for this.

The super wonderful thing about the eggplant recipe is that you can use any kind of eggplant and the recipe is very adjustable. It also freezes well so you can make it when you have a boat load of fresh eggplant on hand and enjoy it in January when only the wrinkled looking purple things called eggplant are in the grocery store.

Meanwhile ...

Sitka, the Siberian Husky, has had a lifestyle change since we hired a dog walker this winter. We "discovered" our local dog park and finally got the courage to take him there. He loves it and is wonderful with the other dogs.

I found out about the Facebook page Husky Huddle and Malamute Mingle and that has taken over my life. We went to our first Hudgle up in Cottage Grove. Sitka had never seen so many other dogs that looked kind of like him!

A big "Hello" to all new human and dog friends! WOOF WOOF.

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