Tonawanda News

October 6, 2013

VUKCEVICH: Celebrate end of summer with fresh tomatoes

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Millions of volunteers from around the world will unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others on Make A Difference Day.

Have you started to think about how you will make a difference locally? This is indeed the most encompassing national day of helping others. It might be as ambitious as collecting truckloads of clothing for the homeless, or as personal as spending an afternoon helping an elderly neighbor or relative.

The United States is the most generous community on earth. According to The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, altogether we gave $298 billion in 2011. Add to that the countless billions of hours of volunteerism we devote to our schools, places of worship, soup kitchens and local events.

Oct. 26 is the 23rd annual Make A Difference Day, and we have discovered, as individuals, that the surest way to happiness is to be part of something bigger than ourselves ... to reach out and touch another person with compassion and respect is a moment of humility that releases your spirit to soar.

The happiest people are those in service to others, says Scott Pelley, CBS News Anchor. 

Look at the Make a Difference Day website under the heading “Get Started,” and join the many regional volunteers who help year-round. Personally, I have met many neighbors and new friends at church and club functions, think Kiwanis, Lewiston Village Recreation, Lions, Garden Club and many others in Niagara and Erie County. It is not too early to help make a joyous holiday for a family in need. Community Missions need volunteers year-round.

Make a Difference Day is just a few weeks away, so find out how you can join, since nothing will lighten your heart like lifting the heart of another.

Summer has mingled into fall, and many local gardens provide good eating for welcome guests. The food of one’s garden is rich in memories, say two elderly friends, a kaleidoscope of sunshine, rain, green fields, earth and the subtle suggestion that all the joyous things of this life are gifts.

A donated recipe, courtesy of Anne D., follows. And thanks for the cherry tomatoes.

Heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella and basil

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, quartered if small or cut into 1/4-inch wide wedges, if larger

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 pound very small mozzarella balls (1/4 inch; sometimes called perlini, or 1 pound lightly salted mozzarella cut into 1/4-inch pieces)

11/2 cups loosely packed small basil leaves or torn large leaves.

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until dressing is emulsified.

Add tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and toss well.

Season with salt and pepper.

Salad can be dressed 1 hour ahead and kept at room temperature, covered. Serves 10.

Allow this salad to sit a few minutes after tossing; the mozzarella milk and tomato juices emerge and add flavor to the dressing.

Vinaigrette keeps, covered and chilled for one week.

Marija Vukcevich is a freelance writer from Lewiston. Contact her at