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There’s a Christmas song by Wizard called ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’…  I’ve never really seen the attraction of Christmas every day, but right now I’m feeling that way about July.

Borage

Each time I walk down the garden there’s the scent of sweet peas on the warm air, and the buzz of bees working among the borage flowers.  The hot weather is ripening the soft fruit and encouraging ridiculous amounts of growth from the vegetables.  The runner beans have reached the top of their poles, and are showing no signs of stopping.  I’ve pinched out the top of each plant but this doesn’t seem to make much difference.  Lower down the poles there are lots of orange flowers forming – it will only be a matter of weeks before I’ll be complaining about too many runner beans.

Runner beans

No complaints about the raspberries though, there’s a fresh handful to be picked every morning and added to a bowl of muesli and yoghurt.  There are some going in the freezer too – I want to try making a raspberry and chocolate tart, but haven’t got around to it yet.

Raspberries

None of the peas have made it to the freezer yet, they’re being eaten almost as quickly as they are ready.  Freshly harvested, they’re sweet enough to eat raw in a salad with lettuce and summer herbs… or indeed, eat straight from the pod without having ever seen the kitchen.

It’s not just about things to eat now – the apples are swelling on the trees, and the brambles have loads of flowers.  And no, I’m not especially proud of having a weed problem that runs to wild brambles growing in the garden, but I can tolerate them while there’s the promise of blackberry and apple crumble for the autumn.

Bramble flowers

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are still green, but coming along nicely.  The tomatillos too are forming fruit – enclosed in papery cases hanging where the flowers used to be.  And each of the cucumber plants now has yellow flowers, and small cucumbers starting to form.

Cucumber

And July is a month when there are plenty of herbs to harvest from the garden.  The parsley is still growing its way toward world (or at least garden) domination, the tarragon is producing lots of fresh shoots and the mint too, although I think it could do with a bit of rain to keep the leaves tender.  The home grown cucumbers won’t be ready for a while yet, but I’ve been using lots of the fresh herbs in a cucumber salad to make a cooling accompaniment to the hot weather.  With a light, lemony dressing this salad has been one that everyone in the family likes.

Cucumber salad

This month’s One Ingredient is the cucumber, so I’m linking this recipe in with the challenge.  This challenge is jointly hosted by Laura over at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.  And if you’re likely to be faced with a glut of home grown cucumbers later this year, it could well be a good place to start looking ideas…

As there’s also a generous amount of herbs involved in the salad, the recipe is my offering for Karen’s Cooking with Herbs challenge over at Lavender and Lovage.

Cooking with Herbs

Being realistic July is probably only going to last another couple of weeks and not all year, but I’ll be making the most of every day… just need to get that Christmas song out of my head now.

Cucumber salad with tahini mayonnaise dressing

For the dressing  –

1 free range egg yolk

1 tsp tahini

1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice

75ml rapeseed oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad –

½ cucumber, cut into fairly chunky ‘matchsticks’

a small handful each of fresh parsley and mint leaves, fairly finely chopped

To make the dressing – put the egg yolk, tahini and lemon juice into a bowl, and using a hand blender or a whisk mix to combine the ingredients.  Very, very slowly start to add the oil – just a few drops at a time, and keep whisking.  Make sure that the oil already added is completely mixed in before you add any more.  Once the mayo starts to thicken, you can start adding the oil in a steady, but thin, stream – keep whisking all the while.  When all the oil is thoroughly mixed in, add some salt and pepper to taste.  This makes more dressing than you’ll need for one cucumber salad, but it’s hard to scale down from one egg yolk, and the remaining mayonnaise won’t go to waste – it’s very good with chips too…

Toss the cucumber and chopped herbs in a serving bowl, and drizzle spoonfuls of the tahini mayonnaise over the top before serving.

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