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Besides swimming in the lake and eating ice cream every day, my favourite thing about summer is my gardens.

Flowers, grasses and ornamental bushes at the front, and a big old vegetable patch out back. I've had some form of veggie garden every year since I was seven years old, and I never get tired of watching things grow. It's not too late if you still want to get in on the green thumb action yourself.

I usually go with a Provençal theme for the veggies, planting copious tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and herbs.

Once things start to mature, usually towards the end of July, I basically sustain myself on this garden through the rest of the summer (especially when the feral cats and downtown squirrels and raccoons leave me their leftovers).

On warm summer evenings I invite family and friends over and fire up the barbecue, and then, besides burgers, chicken and corn, we eat everything I grow. From my backyard plot. In downtown Toronto. (I think that's pretty cool.)

Another thing that's cool is my quick recipe with a new take on the classic French dish, Tomatoes Provençal. (For more great Provençal-inspired recipes, check out the food feature in our July issue.)

New School Tomatoes Provencal

(serves 4)

2 bunches vine ripened cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of chili flakes
4-5 oz. goat cheese, sliced into small rounds

Step 1: Mash together breadcrumbs with a tbsp of olive oil, minced garlic, herbs, salt, and chili flakes and then sprinkle all overtop the tomatoes set in a baking dish.

Step 2: Drizzle the lot with 2 tsp olive oil and set it under the broiler. After a couple minutes, or when the tomatoes start to blister, add goat cheese and broil until cheese is lightly browned.

Click here for more recipes with summer tomatoes.

Photo credits:
1-3. Amy Rosen

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