There's been a lot of talk of "farm to table". Local farmers are providing chefs with freshly harvested garden fare. Most of us, though, already experience the freshness ourselves with "garden to the table". Produce picked at the height of ripeness, without chemicals, has become one of the joys of gardening.

Backyard gardens have been producing for several weeks and the proliferation of zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables are within arm's reach. Add a few fresh herbs to the mixture and the smells wafting from your kitchen will entice anyone passing nearby!

Here's an idea that I brought back from Panatieri's, in Flemington, New Jersey; a Crispino. Focaccia bread, brushed with garlic butter, topped with heirloom tomatoes, slices of mozzarella cheese, strips of roasted red peppers, fresh basil, and drizzled with olive oil. Italian heaven! To give it your own twist, individual servings can be made with Texas garlic toast and then topped with the vegetables and cheese.

Everyone has baskets full of zucchini this time of year. They can be sliced into rounds and baked with yellow summer squash and tomatoes. Saute 2 medium onions in olive oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and 2 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Toss the zucchini and yellow squash in olive oil and salt and pepper. In a lightly oiled casserole dish, layer them with tomatoes and top with half of the onion mixture. Repeat until all the vegetables are used and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. For the last 5 minutes of baking, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and continue baking until melted.

One of my favorite Summer side dishes is cucumber salad. Slice cucumbers, salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Squeeze dry, then mix with thinly sliced onions, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, then salt, pepper, and Hungarian paprika to taste. Serve with barbequed chicken or your favorite hamburger.

Any way you slice,mix and season it, you're sure to enjoy the benefits of home gardening!