Southern Summer Dreams (and a recipe for tomato sandwiches)

I am fortunate enough to work in a building surrounded by nature.  Just outside my window is the forest and the hallways, cafeteria, and entryways are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the lake and a state park.  It’s not uncommon to walk down the hall and see several people pressed against a window, watching a mother deer feed her fawn, or to be sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch and see a huge turkey buzzard land next to you on the window sill and look inside.  We have a lot of wild turkeys too, that can be seen pecking around the deer feeders, of which there are several placed around the property.

While walking on the hiking trails today on my break, I was telling my friend Brandon that my body just feels ready for summer.  I’m ready for sweet strawberries, tomatoes that taste like they should, watermelon, and sunshine!  My body has been pretty in-tune with the seasons for the past couple of years. Around the end of August, I start to crave fall foods like kale and pumpkin and I start to want to cook chili and soup.  By October, I’m so ready for dressing and cranberry sauce that I can hardly stand it and I’m making pumpkin bread every other week.  By February, I’m sick of all of that and ready for watermelon-mint smoothies, grilled veggies, and juicy berries.  Oh! And basil!  Brandon just laughed, as I was telling him all this, and said that it appears I have a passionate relationship with produce.

I think everyone should have a passionate relationship with produce!  If your body is craving what’s in season, I think that means you’re doing something right.  Your body is telling you what it needs, nutrient-wise, and you’re listening!  Plus, in-season produce just tastes better.  Strawberries in the winter… GROSS!  They’re pretty and red, but they’re firm, white on the inside, and flavorless.  Summer strawberries are juicy, pink on the inside, and so very sweet!

If there’s one summer crop we grow in abundance in the South, it’s tomatoes.  The farmer’s market is loaded with all different varieties, including gorgeous, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes.  I know it’s only February, but I can hardly wait for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.  Winter tomatoes taste like NOTHING!

Here’s wishing summer hurries the heck up!
Tomato Sandwiches
2 slices whole grain bread
2-3 thick slices of tomato (I like to mix different heirloom varieties!)
1 Tablespoon (or so) Vegenaise
green leaf lettuce
salt & pepper

Toast your bread and then spread on the Vegenaise.   Add a lettuce leaf and tomato slices, and sprinkle the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.  Eat slowly and let the juice from the tomatoes drip down your chin.  Variations:  add a few slices of avocado for creaminess or replace the lettuce with fresh basil leaves.   ::mouth waters::

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