Early Summer Yellow Zuchinni by Nikki

Farmer’s Market by the Vltava River

It is the first weekend of summer vacation. As a teacher, it is one of the most important weekends in our busy teaching life. At the end of a busy school year, this particular weekend signifies not only the beginning of summer holiday, but of becoming human again! I started my summer holiday by meeting up with a good friend and heading out to explore a new market in town. Actually, I have been to the Farmer’s Market on the river before; however, recently, I have mainly been frequenting my neighborhood market. It was a beautiful day to walk along the river and enjoy the atmosphere of the market especially the colors of the vegetables- they are so bright and crisply colored this time of year!

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but was oh so happy to find these early summer yellow zucchini. I haven’t seen yellow zucchini since I was home in Portland last year. So with delight, I snatched up a few. The same vendor had these beautiful, fragrant Roma tomatoes, and I couldn’t resist the fresh carrots either!

My market finds…

I love summer veggies!

This evening, I had friends for dinner. The weather in Prague has finally begun to resemble Summer, so I wanted to make something easy, fresh, but not very labor intensive for a summer’s evening dinner. I decided on a summer veggie pizza! Because I am more and more interested in healthy eating, I used a whole wheat pizza dough recipe I found online from a blog called Kristen in her Kitchen. The crust was soft and tasted great topped with a fresh herb-ricotta spread and a sauteed mixture of the yellow zucchini from the farmer’s market, red peppers, and mushrooms. Very easy summer dinner!

Summer Veggie Pizza with Herb-Ricotta base

This pizza was perfectly accompanied by a green salad using (of course) the Roma tomatoes and fresh carrots also found earlier in the day at the market by the river…  there is something very satisfying about cooking a meal, sharing it with friends, and knowing that you made a good choice at the market that day! Happy Summer everyone!

Green Salad with farmer’s market veggies

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Growing an Herb Garden by Nikki

Mini Herb Garden      

This is my mini, indoor herb garden…. It is fragrant, colorful, handy and still alive after three weeks! Before moving to Prague nearly three years ago, I lived in the Pacific Northwest- Oregon to be exact. Lush, green, and naturally watered, Portland is a cycling, liberal, green and garden-friendly city! Throughout the school year, I tended to a garden plot with kindergarteners- growing fava and pole beans, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes and squash. While living in a downtown apartment, I applied for a garden plot at a local community garden only to be waitlisted- twice! Eventually, I moved into a house with friends who didn’t mind that I take up the majority of the small back yard with two garden plots! I found a shipping crate on the street one day, called a couple friends to help me haul it home; a few power tools later, a trip to the garden center, and that reused crate became two beautiful garden plots! Lettuce, green peppers, pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash were grown there and enjoyed for two summers… and then I moved to Praha! When I visit my hometown during the summers, I look forward to joining my mother at her garden plot at the local community farm. But now that my home is in an apartment in Prague, Czech Republic I have found new ways to enjoy city gardening!

Now let’s get back to my current mini-herb garden. Three out of my five herb plants were purchased at my local farmer’s market. The market at Jihro z Podebrad has brought life into my neighborhood and herbs and other goodies into my kitchen. I like to fill my basket with nuts, dried fruit, flowers, a variety of cheeses and fresh vegetables! But these herbs have been the highlight of my culinary tastes the past couple weeks.

Fresh herbs…

You see, I love to garden but maybe not as much as I like to cook! I recently read an article in O Magazine where Oprah mentioned that she “marinated” chicken breasts in herbs from her garden! I tried it…  and she is right- TASTY! Fresh herbs add flavor to dishes without any oil, salt or pepper; it is truly all-natural.

Chicken Breast with fresh herbs on a bed of lettuce.

You want to give it a try? Here is what to do:

Choose a variety of herbs and chop or pulverize them until small. The fragrance of the herbs will release and the aroma will be lovely!

Next, spread a pinch or two of herbs in the bottom of a container. Layer chicken on bottom of container then top with remaining herbs!

Let “marinate” over night in the fridge… take out 15 minutes before cooking and grill or bake until juices run clear!

Visit your local garden store or Farmer’s market, and start your own mini, kitchen herb garden- you won’t regret it! – Nikki