Tagged grape tomatoes

Summer is Winding Down

Grape Tomatoes are Abundant and Delicious
Grape Tomatoes are Abundant and Delicious

The coolness of the mornings and the angle of the sun on my drive into work are both undeniable indicators that the long, hot days of summer are slowly moving on, making way for my favorite season – fall!

While I love the beauty and bounty from the gardens – and the harvest of tomatoes, cabbage, and potatoes are more than abundant this year – fall is still my favorite time of the year.  I love the cool, crisp air, the vivid colors as the leaves change and fall to the ground, and visiting local apple orchards to enjoy the wide variety of apples and treats from the harvest.

Since most of the garden chores are either finished or can’t yet be done, I’ve been spending a great deal of my free time creating floral arrangements and bouquets with a paint brush.  I’ve been having a great time finding unique items at garage sales or second hand shops and redecorating them to give them a new life.

This table was painted white, but a fresh coat of vintage green paint gives it a new look.  Adding some flowers was fun and brings the garden indoors.

This little table got a fresh coat of vintage green paint and some flowers to brighten it up.
This little table got a fresh coat of vintage green paint and some flowers to brighten it up.

Recently I found a vintage child’s rocking chair and a doll-size rocking chair.  I spent the afternoon painting them both to match.  Sitting on the back patio with the summer breeze blowing the paint dry (sometimes a little too quickly) was very relaxing.  Letting my imagination run wild, I imagined the little girl that might enjoy these matching chairs.

Painting these chairs to match was fun and relaxing.
A fresh coat of paint for each of these rockers gives them a new life.

Our summer in Minnesota has been especially warm this year, and it is the first time in many years that I didn’t get a break from mowing the lawn at all.  There’s been enough rain throughout the entire summer, that the grass has required a weekly mowing all season.  The crop of water lettuce and water hyacinth in the pond is also very abundant.

Almost 90% of the surface of the pond is covered with
Almost 90% of the surface of the pond is covered with water hyacinth and water lettuce.

Whether mowing the lawn, harvesting vegetables from the garden, or recreating the flower gardens with a paint brush, I’m spending as much of my free time outdoors as possible, before the cold days of winter blow in.

Garden Fresh Basil Broccoli Tomato Pasta Salad

Garden fresh broccoli and basil salad
Garden fresh broccoli and basil make a very flavorful pasta salad.

Does anything smell or taste better than fresh basil from the garden?  I think not!  I absolutely love the smell and taste of sweet basil picked fresh from the garden.  Broccoli and tomatoes picked fresh from the garden taste so much better than store-bought too.   Here’s a recipe that uses fresh basil, broccoli, and grape tomatoes, is super easy to make and is very tasty.

Garden Fresh Basil Broccoli Tomato Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 head of fresh broccoli, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

8 sweet basil leaves, washed and chopped  finely (about 1/3 cup)

1/3 block cubed extra sharp cheddar cheese

12 sweet grape tomatoes, cut in half

6 oz. whole wheat medium pasta shells, cooked according to directions

2/3 cup Light Miracle Whip

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepared broccoli, tomatoes, cheese, and basil.
Prepared broccoli, tomatoes, cheese, and basil.

If you’re worried about cabbage worms in the broccoli, soak it in salt water to get rid any cabbage worms that may be hiding in the heads.  Rinse well after soaking.

Basil, broccoli, tomatoes, pasta shells.
Basil, broccoli, tomatoes, pasta shells.

Combine rinsed and cooled pasta shells, tomatoes, broccoli, basil, and cubed cheese in a medium size bowl.

Add Light Miracle Whip
Add Light Miracle Whip

Stir in Light Miracle Whip.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Colorful broccoli, tomato, basil pasta salad.
Colorful broccoli, tomato, basil pasta salad.

Chill. Serve with whole grain bread or crackers.  Great for a quick summer meal.