But speaking of Pearly Gates, I was stunned and saddened to read that Smackdown contestant Buffalo Dick of Opinions and Rectums, We've All Got One passed away unexpectedly Monday morning. His son Craig shared the news via BD's blog, saying how much his father had enjoyed blogging and his friends in the blogging community since his retirement. There's been an outpouring of appreciations of Buffalo Dick and condolences for his family in the comments there, and elsewhere, including this post by Smackdown contestant DoggyBloggy of Chez What?, who shared this photo of Buffalo Dick.
For his submission to this month's Veggie Smackdown, Buffalo Dick made tempura fried green beans with a dipping sauce of creamy ranch and hot sauce.
here, then took it to the State of Michigan BB-Q Cook-off this past weekend, where those delectable green beans took 3rd place in the vegetable category and he also took 5th in Potatoes. You can tell from his last post, on Sunday, how pleased Buffalo Dick was with his showing at the Cook-off, both exclaiming and undercutting himself in his own way: "We didn't get skunked!" I'm sorry we won't see those additional photos he planned to post about the weekend's festivities, or more tales and tips regarding his love of barbeque. He will be missed. I think Buffalo Dick deserves a "Heavenly Culinary Smackdown Winner Emeritus" badge. Even though I don't have the Photoshop skills to create one here, I'm hoping Photoshop isn't needed wherever Buffalo Dick is BB-Q-ing up a feast now, to let him know what a winner and inspiration he was to so many.
Moving on to the rest of this month's Smackdown entries (and I think Buffalo Dick would want us to) I'll go through the entries in the order in which they were posted in the comments.
DoggyBloggy's entry jumped on board this month's popular tomato train, offering a serious riff on Caprese salad, made with tomato aspic, pesto aspic, and fresh bufala mozzarella.
Second to the plate (or comments) was Heff from Heff's Bar and Grill, who, with help from Donna once again, gave us a well-rounded entry filled with an array of summertime veggies, starting with a spinach-tomato lasagna with white sauce:
Next is Smackdown newcomer Chef Dennis, of More than a Mountfull, whose entry brought us more spectacular stuffed zucchini blossoms.
Another newcomer to the Smackdown is Jen, from Our Good (Food) Life. Like me, she has a relatively new food blog based in Cincinnati. Like me, she is a Smitten Kitchen fan and a pickle afficianado. Unlike me, she and her husband have been trying to become active gardeners in a community garden this year (you can find a bit of that saga here and here). I've been following their travails, but am happy to report Jen just keeps on cooking, and baking. Jen really threw herself into her entry for this month's Smackdown, making her own pie crust, getting fierce about her love of in-season tomatoes, and adding roasted eggplant, sauteed onions, thin sliced tomatoes, pecorino, and parmesan for this spectacular Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Pie.
Moi, of Bite the Apple, always inspires me with her creativity, breadth of knowledge and interests, and ability to make her current home territory of New Mexico come alive on the page (er, blog). For her Smackdown entry, highlighting, once again, tomatoes, she brought us this lovely pasta dish featuring fresh veggies and herbs.
And then there is the indefatigable Buzz of Buzzkill, who gardens, cooks, takes his sons to unforgettable rock concerts, and somehow manages to do it all. I borrowed the photo at the top of this post from Buzz, who in his entry said, in his typically understated manner, that he's growing Early Girls, Beefsteaks, "and a couple other kinds of tomatoes."
For Buzz's dish #1, he grilled eggplant (nice char marks!)
Then Buzz diced the grilled eggplant for a salad with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parsley. No one gets extra suck-up points for using eggplant in their dish, but I have to say this sounds like veggies and flavors I would truly enjoy, especially in that kind of salad format.
For Buzz's dish #2, he made fried tomatoes, stretching himself to try something new - panko (way to read the directions/rules, Buzz - lol). Plus bacon. Ahh, bacon. Good thing the kids don’t like fried tomatoes – more for Buzzy!
Finally, a couple of non-competing entries. Florida Cracker, of Pure Florida, who missed the Smackdown deadline, but wanted to play along for the fun of it, gave us Boilt PNuts, a straight-up dish from his part of the world. No fancy-schmancy seasonings for his dish, just plain old salt. Thanks for treating me to something new, FC!
And lastly, my own late post (which wouldn't have been a competitor anyway, since, as last month's winner, I'm hosting and judging this month), a simple tomato and zucchini salad with bruschetta-ish open-faced sandwich.
On to the winner!!! You guys made this month's decision really tough. So many good ideas, great photos, and fun posts. After much deliberation, and consultation with fellow Team Eggplant member Cindie, I've finally decided that the winner of the July Smackdown: "Summertime Veggies and the Livin' is Easy" is:
DoggyBloggyDoggyBloggy is a cook and blogger who constantly inspires me with his culinary skill, gorgeous plating, and attention to detail (even if, alas, he shares actual recipes less frequently than I would be happy for him to). For his stuffed zucchini blossoms, he started with these lovely specimens.
He made these bread crumbs in a molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle - I had to google it).
Congratulations, Dog, for a job well done!!!! As this month's winner, it is up to you to select the August Culinary Smackdown theme and deadline and to play host and judge. Let us know what kind of challenge you have up your culinary sleeve for us, and wear the badge with pride!