"Still Life," Vincenzo Campi. Ca. 1550-1600. Oil on canvas, 91x71 cm. Private collection.


There’s good news and bad news this week if you live in Central Texas. First, the bad: it’s about a million degrees outside with barely a chance of rain. Now the good: all this hot weather is the perfect excuse to hang out by the pool and drink cucumber basil mojitos. Cucumbers are growing like crazy in our dry climate and there’s no chance of rain to spoil your pool party.

I know that’s pretty weak good news, but it’s hard to find a silver lining when there are no clouds in sight. I saw the 7-day forecast on the news this morning and had to chuckle, because all the triple digit temperatures barely fit into the graphic on screen!

Crazy, right? Luckily our local farmers are fighting the good fight and growing tons of delicious produce for us in the midst of this drought. Here’s what they’re sending our way in the Local Box:

Here’s what I’m planning to cook with the bounty.
Wednesday: We’re going meatless with fresh pinto beans with tomatoes and blueberry quesadillas for dessert. I’ll use a few chopped basil leaves in place of the cinnamon on the quesadillas.
Thursday: Summer squash tacos, cilantro cucumber salad, and Cucumber-Basil mojitos. Use the yellow-skinned Indian cucumber in the salad and save the pretty green Armenian cucumber for the drinks.
Friday: Potato chickpea curry, basmati rice and mango lassi.
Saturday: If I can stand to turn my oven on in this heat, I’ll roast a whole chicken using this Lemon Basil Roast Chicken recipe and serve sliced peaches and blueberries on the side, along with some biscuits. If I don’t feel like turning on the oven, I’ll stick the chicken in the slow cooker and use the lemons and basil to make basil lemonade.
Sunday: Tortma Stew (an Arabic eggplant, tomato and beef stew), Pita Bread, Hummus
Monday: I’ll use the leftover pita bread to make these onion pita pizzas and serve it with sliced peaches on the side.
Tuesday: Leftover awareness day!
*Note: I’m going to start cross posting my meal plans to the Greenling blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”  The posts on The Austin Gastronomist will still include food art and a bit more about my personal life than the Greenling Blog menu, but the basic content and menu ideas will be the same. I’ll be adjusting the format of the menu a bit in the coming weeks to make it easier to follow and adapt for other types of cooking– please feel free to give feedback about the recipes and  formats. I’d really appreciate it!