Relishing summer produce


I detest the heat and humidity of summer. I am constantly asking “is it October yet?” There are those of you who adore 90-degree days by going to the beach, claiming an inch of sand to set up a chair and taking a dip in the seaweed-filled sea.

Not me.

Summer means my herb garden is filled with basil, cilantro, Italian parsley, chervil, French tarragon and chives. I do not plant tomatoes because I support local farmers. I buy my fruits and vegetables.

Summer is high time for tomatoes, corn, blueberries and the dreaded zucchini. The Jersey blues have been particularly sweet this year. I’ve had luck with seedless watermelon and the small Tuscan melon I discovered at Trader Joe’s. The Garden State also grows ones that are usually big and sweet.

My favorite way to prepare white corn is to husk it, rinse it, wrap it in plastic wrap and zap it in the microwave. Slather it with melted butter and I am in vegetable heaven. I could make a meal of corn, tomatoes, a bit of cheese, grains with fresh fruit for dessert.

My fridge is filled with two pints of Jersey blueberries, two quarts of strawberries, a seedless watermelon, a few plums and a Tuscan melon. I’m having a field day coming up with tasty concoctions for breakfast, lunch, snacktime and dinner.

Stay cool, pump up the air, prepare a pitcher of iced tea and hope the heat breaks soon. I’m an optimist by nature, but I know this will not happen anytime soon.


Tomato Salad with Feta, 
Red Onions and Basil


2 large ripe red tomatoes, cored and sliced
1 large yellow tomato, cored and sliced
3 Kumato tomatoes, cored and sliced
4 to 6 ounces of feta cheese, cut into bite-size cubes
1 small red onion, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of fresh basil leaves, snipped with scissors


Select a large pretty serving platter. Arrange the tomatoes on the platter alternating the slices by color. Top with the feta and red onion. Season with the salt and pepper.

Whisk together the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the salad. Sprinkle on the basil leaves.

Serves four.

Note from Phyllis: Buy Kumato tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. They’re sweet.


Corn Relish


6 ears of fresh white corn, kernels removed
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
1 15-ounce jar of roasted peppers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of fresh snipped Italian parsley or cilantro leaves


Place the corn in a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle on a little water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the oven, stir the corn and microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain well and place in a large serving bowl.

Drain the chickpeas and add them to the corn. Drain the roasted peppers, dry them well and slice into strips. Add them to the corn mixture. Season with the salt and pepper.

Whisk together the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the relish. Top with the parsley or cilantro.

Serves four.

Note from Phyllis: You may want to chill the relish for a few hours before serving.


Fruit Salad for Grown-ups


2 pints of Jersey blueberries
6 ripe peaches, stoned and cut into cubes
6 ripe plums, stoned and cut into cubes
1 ripe Tuscan melon, peeled and cut into cubes
Generous pour liqueur of your choice such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier, cognac or B & B


Gently place all of the ingredients, except for the liqueur, in a large pretty serving bowl. Pour on the liqueur and blend well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours. Overnight is better.

Serves four.

Note from Phyllis: The peaches and plums have not smoked anything illegal. To “stone” means to remove the pit. Peaches and plums are stone fruits. SPR


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Jane Kiefer
Jane Kiefer, a seasoned journalist with a rich background in digital media strategies, leads South Philly Review as its Editor-in-Chief. Originally hailing from Seattle, Jane combines her outsider perspective with a profound respect for South Philly's vibrant community, bringing fresh insights and innovative storytelling to the newspaper.