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July, 2009

Independence Day

By Mark Mulcahy

You know what I like about Independence Day? It’s the special feeling I get when I realize just how blessed I am to have such a great variety and selection of food to eat, savor, and nourish my family.

Nectarines
With everything going on in the world these days it is nice to know that the simple things like family meals and good produce can bring us all together and make us a little more appreciative of what we have. Doesn’t the month of July just make you want to eat? It should! Melissa’s summer fruit is in full swing, peaches, plums and plumcots, oh my! Melons are big, round and ripe and begging to be eaten, tomatoes taste like they should, and corn is plentiful and full of corny goodness. And isn’t corn most likely the one vegetable that symbolizes summer more than any other, besides maybe tomatoes? It does to me! And for good reason, as you already know, it tastes great (not as starchy as off season corn), but do you know how good it is for you? Believe it or not, corn is more nutritious than many other vegetables. It is loaded with vitamins C and A, B1, B2, B3 and B6. It also supplies you with a good dose of carbohydrates, fat, calcium, iron, potassium, and even protein. So, as long as you keep the salt and butter to reasonable levels (I prefer mine without) you won’t have to worry when you want to reach for another cob. And you will be reaching for another, if it has been grilled on the barbeque. If you haven’t ever grilled corn try this simple technique I adapted from one I found on http://bbq.about.com.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
Corn on the cob, husks intact
Butter Herbs

Preparation:
DO NOT REMOVE HUSKS. Do remove the silk. Soak in water for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from water and pull down husks carefully -- DO NOT REMOVE -- and coat with herbal butter (made from adding your favorite fresh minced herbs to softened butter). You can grill your corn without the butter if you are watching your calories. Put the husks back up, covering the corn, and tie with a thin piece of husk at the top. Place on grill for about 15 minutes, turning every few minutes. If you get a couple of dark kernels, don’t worry, they have a nice roasted taste. After you take the corn off the grill, try putting a little lime juice and cayenne pepper on your cob, mmm mmm! Since you have the grill going, why not make another summer favorite, shish kebobs? They are tasty, as well as versatile and they go great with corn. Need a shish kebab recipe that is full of healthy vegetables? Try this grilled vegetable recipe from http://bbq.about.com.

Grilled Vegetable Kebabs (with Melissa’s summer veggies, of course)
4 Servings

Ingredient List
1 medium eggplant, sliced 1 inch thick and quartered
8 small red-skinned potatoes, parboiled
1 large zucchini, blanched and sliced 1 inch thick
8 whole, peeled garlic cloves, blanched
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Marinade
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. crumbled dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Prepare charcoal grill or preheat gas grill for at least 10 minutes. Marinade: In large shallow glass bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Thread vegetables on skewers, alternating for color. Grill until tender and lightly charred, turning and brushing with marinade often, about 5 minutes. If it is too hot to start the grill and you’re tired of tomato sandwiches, then try this recipe. It is one way to satisfy your tomato cravings, stay cool and it pairs them with another summer favorite, watermelon. I know you are saying to yourself, “Mark, what the heck are you thinking?”, but these two fruits go well together in a summer Watermelon-Tomato Gazpacho. It is sweet and savory; it's the perfect cold meal for a summer evening.


Watermelon-Tomato Gazpacho (From "Raw Food/Real World" by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis)

3 cups watermelon, seeded and puréed in a blender
1 cup seeded watermelon, diced small
1 cup seeded tomato, diced small (about 2 medium tomatoes)
1 cup peeled, seeded cucumber, diced small (from about 1/2 English cucumber or 1 or 2 whole Kirbys)
1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, diced small
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 small handful cilantro leaves
1 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 green onion, white and 1 inch of green, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large glass bowl or container, combine the watermelon purée with the diced watermelon, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, ginger, jalapeño, green onion and salt. Stir to combine. Season with fresh black pepper and additional salt, if desired. Ladle into chilled soup bowls and serve, or refrigerate to chill and then serve. Well, no matter the weather or the occasion, it looks like your menu is set. Enjoy everything hot, cool and Melissa’s.