Dinner parties were my mother’s era. Potlucks are mine.
We had two this week.
The first was Monday night. After a day of work, the rule is KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid. Pesto pasta piled into a crockpot to keep it warms turned into Upside Down Pesto Pasta when I took a turn a little too fast and it tipped in the trunk. A single serving was lost; after a quick cleanup around the lid of the crockpot, the rest was just fine.
Friday night’s potluck was with a different crowd and I had the day off to play. I found a recipe that included ingredients I had in the kitchen or the garden, and no cooking, always a plus in the summer.
Vietnamese Watermelon Salad
3 cups seedless watermelon, cut in ½-inch pieces
3 cups cucumbers, chopped in ½-inch pieces
3 ½ tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/3 cup peanuts, chopped
Combine cucumbers and watermelon. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Drain off liquid (I drank it mixed with ice water). Combine lime juice and hoisin sauce, mixing well with a fork. Add herbs and toss cucumbers and watermelon with dressing. Chill. Top with peanuts before serving.
Wide, flat Romano beans are one of my favorite summer vegetables. They’re not easy to find at farmers markets, where stands have caught onto the bean rainbow of green, yellow, and purple, but some how missed those velvety Italian Romanos. I’m growing them successfully this year—the rabbits ignored them while chomping down on the Royal Burgundy and edamame plants.
I like to steam Romanos in a little water, but I decided to dress them up a little. In a separate pan, I browned some pancetta cubes. As the meat browned and the fat melted, I added sage leaves and a good splash of balsamic vinegar flavored with figs (a wonderful gift from Sabine and Richard last Christmas). With a sizzle and hiss, I had a glaze of ham, sage and caramelized vinegar to pour over the beans.
For dinner, the night after the second potluck, we had corn on the cob, leftover Vietnamese Watermelon Salad (“This is like dessert,” my mom said.) and my dressed Romano beans, with a slice of multigrain bread to mop up the leftover glaze. Home-gown heaven. Laurie Lynch
Ag Progress Hit: The luffas captured the attention of APD-goers. The CDT ran a photo on their webpage (but it got bumped from the print newspaper by the coronation photo of the Grange Fair Queen.) While politics is everywhere, including Ag shows, we have photographic proof that at least two of the three Centre County Commissioners visited the luffa tunnel. One of them, a garlic groupie, stopped by Lemont Farmers Market after APD and bought out my garlic supply—and said he always thought luffa sponges came from the sea…until Centre County Master Gardeners set him straight.
Corn Quiz: OK, eaters. How do you consume corn on the cob? Do you eat it “typewriter style”—nibbling across the “cartridge” in a straight line until you get to the end, and then, Ping! back to the beginning and down a row…or, do you take a bite and then move down, encircling the cob? There could be other methods, I’m sure, but these were the two discussed at a recent gathering. What’s your technique…and why?
Written on Slate: “Your whole life passes in front of your eyes before you die. This is called living.” Terry Pratchett