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The last two days, when Dave and I have gone out to walk the dogs, it’s been all of 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now, of course, we live in Minnesota; the rest of the country might not have those lows.  We have freeze warnings coming up, so I was out collecting the last of the tomatoes and also enjoying the last blooms in our yard…

Backdoor Italian parsley

 

Backdoor herb pot–Sage (top), Chives (left), Thyme (right), Rosemary (bottom), Mint (left)

 

Almost the last of the cherry tomatoes

Last rose of summer?

 

Dried dill seed

 

Birds still enjoying the sunflowers

 

Last rose??

When the summer seems to be slipping away, jackets are dug out, gardens are dug in, and, when you walk up for groceries, the stores are decorated with mums and winter squash.  There are end caps full of canned butternut squash.  (I saw a pumpkin on a porch while walking the other day.)   My initial response is, “Wait! It’s too soon. Why are there stands of dried cornstalks?  It’s still warm. I haven’t worn out my shorts yet! Let’s go to the lake one more time.”  But, it’s real; it’s true; it’s mid-September.  So I watch the garden for the last of its bounty, stand in the sun every chance I have, and think about what’s in the freezer that needs to be used before the season changes–and also, in our case, before we move back to Colorado.

 

What to make with both dill and tomatoes?   Hamburgers from the freezer?  A round of fresh mozzarella in the fridge? Two ears of corn?  For a couple of years, I’ve thought of caprese everything (as you’ve seen), but while I had Caprese burgers in mind, I never made them.  They might be better with lamb, but I had beef—there it is!  A little potato salad that used up the gorgeous Minnesota corn was the perfect side.  It was 65 degrees in the back yard, so we donned sweaters and ate on the patio.
Try this:
caprese burgers  serves 4
 
  • 1 pound ground meat–beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, or sausage
  • Canola oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 1/3″ – 1/2″ slices fresh mozzarella
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil
  • 4 thick slices of a large tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 4 whole wheat buns
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar, optional
1.  Heat grill over high heat.  Divide ground meat into four sections and pat each one a ball and then flatten into a burger. Season generously with salt and pepper. Lightly oil grill and place burgers on grill.  Cook burgers about four minutes, flip and cook another three minutes or until burgers are done to your liking. (Safe cooking for beef is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 165 for chicken and turkey See temperature chart here.)
2.  While burgers cook, spread buns with mustard and place a slice of salted and peppered tomato and a little chopped onion on the top half of the bun. When burgers are done, add a burger to the bottom half of the bun and top with a slice of mozzarella and some basil.  If desired, sprinkle tomatoes with a little balsamic vinegar.  Serve hot.
While much of our fragrant dill has flowered and gone to seed, we still have some baby dill weed.
sweet corn potato salad      serves 4
Leave out the crushed red pepper and hot sauce if you don’t like your salads with a kick.
  • 2 large baking potatoes, baked and chopped (leave skin on)
  • Kernels of two freshly cooked ears of corn*
  • 1 cup cooked green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, sliced thinly
  • 2 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped**
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small dill pickle, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style  mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
  • Hot sauce, optional
*Cook 2 ears, unshucked, in microwave 5 minutes @ full power.  Cool, hold perpendicular to board, and slice kernels off.
1. In a large bowl, place potatoes, corn kernels, green beans, carrot, and eggs.  Sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper) and the pinch of crushed red pepper; drizzle with one tablespoon oil and mix gently.
2.Stir in onion, pickle, and celery.  Sprinkle with fresh dill and parsley. 
3. Stir in mayonnaise, the other two tablespoons of olive oil,  mustard, and vinegar.  Mix gently, but thoroughly. 
4.  Add one tablespoon lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice if necessary.  (You might also like more red wine vinegar or a few drops of hot sauce.)

5.  Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate, well-covered, overnight and serve cold.

**Quick, microwaved “boiled” eggs–instructions here.

Sing a new song; make a new potato salad,
Alyce