Labor Day is the last hurrah of summer, so it's time to take advantage of the final flavors of summer before they're gone. And though you can get watermelon year-round nowadays, it's at its best coming from area farms.
The recipe below is one that is perfect with any grilled foods you may be serving, from burgers to ribs, steak or chicken. I've never been a fan of watermelon, but this salad has delicious written all over it. The sweet taste of the melon is counterbalanced with the tang of balsamic vinegar and goat cheese. It smacks of flavor. And it's easy to make, particularly if you have seedless watermelon. If not, make sure to get all the seeds out.
I had this salad earlier in the summer and couldn't believe I was asking for a recipe using watermelon, but the hostess was happy to share it. She said the salad holds up better if put together at the last minute before serving. However, everything can be prepared in advance - cutting the melon and making the balsamic syrup. Then it takes just seconds to crumble the cheese, shred the basil and toss everything together.
8 cups diced watermelon
1 small log plain goat cheese, crumbled
6 or 7 large basil leaves, shredded
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic syrup (recipe below)
Combine the watermelon in a wide, shallow dish. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top, followed by the basil, then drizzle with the balsamic syrup. Serve immediately.
To make the balsamic syrup, combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reduces by half. Remove from heat and cool. Can be made ahead.
The Lion's Club of Signal Mountain Lions Club will hosts its annual Labor Day barbecue Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's an opportunity to help community organizations such as the Mountain Education Fund and Signal Mountain Library and national charities, too, while getting some great barbecue.
Club President John Moon says members will be smoking more than 1,400 pounds of pulled pork, bratwurst and other items. There will be a drive-through, so you don't even have to get out of your car.
"But we're encouraging people to," he says, since there will be more than 'cue. It's a family event with music and activities for kids, too.
The Lions Club barbecue will happen behind the Signal Mountain Country Club. Watch for signs along James Boulevard.
If you're a history buff, the Fort Wood Neighborhood Association will host a banquet that might be of interest to you. On September 27, folks will gather beneath a large tent on the lawn at 850 Fort Wood St., to enjoy drinks and appetizers, followed by a three-course plated dinner. Music from the Civil War period will be played, while Civil War re-enactors visit with guests, adding to the historic ambiance. Following dinner, Daryl Black, executive director of the Chattanooga History Center will speak about Fort Wood's role in the battles around Chattanooga. The 20-minute presentation is entitled "After Chickamauga." Take a self-guided tour of the neighborhood after dinner, as well. The original ìfortî in Fort Wood was an earthwork stronghold constructed by Union forces in 1863 during their occupation of Chattanooga.
There will be only 150 tickets sold for the banquet, so get your reservation in early. For more information or for reservations, call 265-0771, extension 100 or online at www.chattanoogapresents.com. Tickets are $75 per person. All proceeds will benefit the Fort Wood Neighborhood Association.
A final note in advance of Labor Day ...
For most Americans, Monday will be a day spent with friends and family at the lake or around the pool, at the ballpark or spending the day enjoying a barbecue in the backyard. But for restaurant workers, it's no picnic. Unless they have a scheduled day off, it's a day like any other. So keep this in mind if you're dining out today. A little extra tip would mean a lot. And don't forget the tip jar. I've seen so many people bypass the jar when they pick up a takeout. Even spare change is appreciated. It all adds up.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.