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The weekend is here, and I’m bring back an old series to welcome it. This particular weekend marks the bridge between Summer and Autumn for the Northern Hemisphere, a crossover to a new season, an invitation to change. While our garden is mostly cleared and waiting for fall plantings, my sister is still fortunately stocked with beautiful Purple Basil! So before it also withers, I wanted to share a favorite drink from Summer––a Cucumber Basil Margarita. Nothing says Texas Summer like a margarita, so it seemed fitting to consider this a farewell to the Summer garden and casual evenings outdoors.

What I love most about this drink is it’s flexibility. Want to skip the alcohol? Substitute mineral water or sparking water for the tequila and make it a spritzer. Short on Basil? Substitute an herb on hand, perhaps Lavender or Cilantro or Lemon Thyme. This drink is also very strong, so sip and enjoy slowly. It’s intended to mingle with the ice, making it perfect for warm weather, too. And naturally, it pairs best with a group of friends.  Happy weekend, friends!


CUCUMBER BASIL MARGARITA, makes one drink

.25 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

5-6 basil leaves, washed

.5 – .75 oz. maple syrup, to preferred sweetness

1 lime, halved to press

3 oz. white tequila*

ice

tools needed / shaker, citrus press, muddler, knife, vegetable peeler, cutting board

DIRECTIONS

  1. Muddle cucumber and basil together in the shaker.
  2. Press the lime juice into the shaker.
  3. Add the maple syrup and tequila.
  4. Shake.
  5. Fill a glass with ice.
  6. Remove the lid of the shaker and pour the entire shaker over the ice.
  7. Garnish with a basil leaf and enjoy!

 

Our garden has been less than stellar this summer and is quickly dissipating in this heat. I rotated plants into different beds this year, as master gardeners always insist for the soil’s health, but it turns out, we have such specific quantities and places of light in our heavily shaded yard, that my typical planting spots just work best. Sigh. Lessons learned. I did plant a row of heirloom Swiss Chard from seed this year, and it has performed beautifully and bountifully. If you are new to gardening, or even planting in patio pots, Swiss Chard is a great starting place. It’s beautiful, easy to grow, intuitive to manage, and prolific. It’s also an inexpensive veggie this time of year at local farmer’s markets and grocers.

But what do I do with it? There are hundred of ways to use it, but most times, I chop and sauté with garlic and onion or use as a tortilla for a wrap. Our blender has been broken the last year (argh!) or I’d use it in smoothies, too. To get more creative and to share a few yummy looking ways to eat it, here are fifteen diverse recipes, everything from Chard Dark Chocolate Torte to Chard Hummus Wraps, to enjoy at your table right now.

 

Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio with Rainbow Chard

Hot Sausage and Crispy Chard Pizza

Drink Your Greens Smoothie

Runner Beans with Swiss Chard Stems and Basil

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls

Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart

Crispy Swiss Chard Cakes with Mascarpone Creamed Spinach

Rainbow Chard Hummus Wraps

Chard Dark Chocolate Torte

Butternut Squash and Chard in Spicy Harissa Coconut Sauce

Chard Black and Blue Smoothie

Chard + Sweet Corn Tacos

Sweet Thai Chile Chicken Swiss Chard Wraps with Peanut Ginger Sauce

Spicy Swiss Chard Chips

Herb, Chard, and Feta Soup

 

The days have been warm here, feeling more like spring than late winter. I don’t mind. I spent the day on a blanket last weekend, reading Luci Shaw’s Water My Soul, and soaking up the warm light. It’s possibly the most restorative way for me to spend alone time, tending the soil of my own soul and spirit, taking in the outdoors. In spite of a few hard freezes here, our garden kale and brussel sprouts have continued to grow, and the heirloom lettuces I let go to seed last year have blossomed again without effort! It feels miraculous. In our southern heat, these leafy greens only last as long as the weather remains cool in the evening, so I’m harvesting what I can each day, adding a bit of kale to at least one meal or juice a day. As I’ve looked for more creative ways to eat kale, here are a few recipes I’ve found. Kale Cake? Kale Pesto Slaw? Mmm. Enjoy!

  1. Simply Sauté | Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and minced garlic over the stove until a bright green color. Add to any dish.
  2. Green Juice  or this one: 5-6 de-stemmed kale leaves, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 lemon without the rind, 1 apple, 2 sprigs of mint, 1″ piece of ginger
  3. Wilted Winter Greens Soup
  4. BBQ Kale Chips
  5. Kale and Black Bean Tacos with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
  6. Butternut Squash + Kale Quesadillas
  7. Blueberry, Kale, and Fig Smoothie
  8. Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing
  9. Kale Pasta with Walnuts
  10. Pork Tenderloin with Kale and Kimchi
  11. Kale Veggie Wrap
  12. Kale with Garlic and Bacon
  13. Savory Oatmeal with Garlicky Kale
  14. Winter Farro and Kale Salad
  15. Cheesy Turmeric + Garlic Kale Chips
  16. Chocolate Cocoa Kale Chips
  17. Chive, Kale, + Parmesan Pancakes with Poached Eggs
  18. Kale + Feta Savory Torte
  19. Kale, Cherry, Sunflower Seed Salad with Savory Granola
  20. Roasted Beet, Kale, and Brie Baby Quiche
  21. Savory Corned Beef Brisket + Irish Cheddar French Toast with Kale Pesto Slaw
  22. Hide Your Kale Smoothie
  23. Warm Kale + Artichoke Dip
  24. Detox Salad with Cauliflower, Kale, and Pomegranate
  25. Kale + Popcorn

Any favorite kale recipes to share?