A few years ago when I decided to branch out from planting tomatoes in my very small garden I planted a flat of zucchini. These seemed easy to grow and there were so many stories and jokes about people who had so many they could not give them away. It was exciting to see all those big yellow blossoms and I was sure I would have a bumper crop. I was disappointed to see that the blossoms wilted and fell but no zucchini appeared. This year, with my daughter's help we put in a small but varied garden. We have been enjoying lettuce and peppers and were again delighted to see those big yellow zucchini blossoms.

Johanna thought it would be great to pick them and stuff them but did not want to sacrifice an actual zucchini. Thus began her google search about zucchini and their blossoms. How to pick blossoms and not lose the zucchini? As it turns out, zucchini come in male and female plants. Whereas the females produce flowers and fruit, the males produce only flowers. It is possible to discern the difference by looking at the base of the flower. If it is attached to a long stem and nothing else, it is male and can be picked. If it is female it will have a very small knob at its base and this knob will grow into a zucchini. As it turns out, once again we have only male zucchini but never enough blossoms at one time to cook.

So, we are purchasing our zucchini from the market. I thought it would be nice to make a meal of spiraled zucchini, ricotta and pesto as a meatless, quick dinner. Johanna brought home the zucchini but the package did not seem large enough to make a meal for three. My solution was to mix some tagliatelle with the "zoodles". I cooked the former for 4 minutes and added the latter for an additional 2. While they were boiling I put a few dollops of ricotta in a serving bowl with some grated parmesan, lemon rind, salt and pepper. Somehow pesto had lost its appeal. After draining the tagliatelle and zucchini I put them on top of the cheese and mixed it all together. Only a small amount was left and it was just as good straight from the fridge the next day.

Next year I will plant many zucchini in the hope of getting a males and females.

There have been wonderful tomatoes at the farm stands so I am not sure why it was the sight of my patio tomato finally starting to turn red that made me think that it is gazpacho time. I think there are as many recipes for it as there are cooks. As I perused the google offerings some had no onion, whereas others had no pepper. Some are very chunky and others completely smooth. My preference is for something in the middle that uses onion, pepper and garlic. I remember decades ago serving lunch to some second cousins who were of my parents generation. I thought it was so special and healthy to serve them some gazpacho only to be told they could not eat anything that had onion, garlic or pepper. I am glad that I have gotten to their age and can still enjoy a good gazpacho. But feel free to leave out any ingredient that doesn't appeal.

I like to use a combination of vegetables and tomato juice, getting that in-between texture of neither lumpy or silky. I use a food processor but a blender would certainly work. Today I chopped 2 large tomatoes in the machine. When they were fully chopped I added 1 yellow pepper, seeded and inner pith removed, 1/2 vidalia onion, 1 medium cucumber peeled and seeded, and 1 large clove of garlic. I blitzed it all until there were no very large pieces.

I removed half to a mixing bowl and added 2 cups of tomato juice, salt (to taste), 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to the food processor. I blitzed it again to be thoroughly mixed and added it to the bowl, stirred, covered and put in the fridge.

Some recipes call for wine vinegar, others for balsamic or sherry. I happened to have some peach balsamic on hand so that is what I used. I also had an ear of corn left from last night so I scraped the kernels and added them. When Johanna went to the market she happened to bring home some mangoes and that reminded me that they make a wonderful garnish in the center of a bowl of gazpacho.

Feel free to let me know what your favorite gazpacho recipe is.

Goldie may think she is my favorite everything but I really love a good smoothie for summer lunch, or breakfast, or snack. It provides lots of vitamins and protein with minimal effort. Whenever I see smoothie recipes they always seem to have either kale, bananas, peanut butter, or orange juice, none of which I like in a smoothie. When it is warm I often make a smoothie for lunch. I think I started doing this years ago in Anguilla when our home away from home had a kitchen and we did not want to eat all of our meals out. There really is no recipe for this and you just have to use the amounts that appeal to you. Back in Anguilla we used to get low sugar individual cans of fruit nectars such as peach, apricot, and guava. I would put an individual container of yogurt, a fresh peach or nectarine and maybe some berries, and about half a can of juice into a blender. Voila, smoothie. If you want to amp up the flavor (as well as calories), you could use a flavored yogurt but I tend to prefer the plain. I have enjoyed using coconut yogurt but found the lime too overpowering.

Now that I am in CT and those little cans are not available I use about 4 ounces of V8 peach mango juice with a few dollops of yogurt and some fruit, usually peach and/or berries.. Here I have a hand blender and use it to puree it all. If I use a wide mouth glass I can drink from I have one less item to wash. On a hot humid day it is still the perfect lunch for me. And for those who like the flavor a fruit but not the consistency it is a great way to enjoy the fruits of summer.