Holding On To Summer

The calendar says August. The thermometer is registering 80 degrees. The humidity outside can be cut with a knife. That sure sounds like Summer to me.  Yet most schools are back in session, or will be soon. The stores are filled with “Back To School” clothes and if you look beyond the Halloween displays there is the faintest hint of Christmas creeping onto the shelves. I was in retail long enough to know that is all part of the corporate marketing plan, but wait a minute (or at least a few weeks). It’s still SUMMER!!!

The air conditioning is on more than it is off in my house. There are still tomatoes on the vine, but last week I opened my mailbox and found a Fall food magazine…I’m not ready for this. I’m still enjoying the fruits of summer, and the vegetables, too. I grill out almost every night (okay, I do that a lot at other times of the year, but still…). Living in the Midwest, Fall means Winter, and that means cold and snow and ice. There will be plenty of time for hearty soups and squash gratins, so let’s put all of that aside and focus on the here and now of Summer.DIGITAL CAMERA

Vegetables are still at their peak. We are blessed with fresh local sweet corn. Local meaning the ears were in the fields this morning less than five miles from home. DIGITAL CAMERAI admit that I am a Midwestern corn snob. I love it on the cob, brushed with butter, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. DIGITAL CAMERAI adore it grilled as is or off the cob used in recipes. Corn is having its heyday and that’s just fine with me.

Grilled corn is a wonderful addition to many dishes. I recently used it in a Gazpacho that featured cucumbers, peppers, and of course tomatoes. DIGITAL CAMERACall it a soup, call it a liquid salad, it’s a wonderful way to use summer’s vegetable bonanza. Use what you have or what calls to you at the market. This gazpacho recipe will give you a jumping off place like the diving board at the deep end of the pool.

Gazpacho
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Gazpacho
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel the cucumber and chop into pieces about 1 inch. Quarter the tomatoes. Core and seed them and chop into pieces about the same size as the cucumber. Put both in a large bowl.
  2. Chop the onion into one inch chunks. Do the same with the bell pepper. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the garlic, parsley, and cilantro and toss them in with the other vegetables. Mix everything together.
  4. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside
  5. Place a manageable amount of the vegetable mixture into the processor bowl. Add some of the vegetable juice and process until the mixture is slightly chunky. ( make this as smooth or chunky as you like) Put the processed vegetables back in the bowl.
  6. Continue to process the vegetables with the vegetable juice until they are all the consistency you want. Add the corn to the bowl of vegetables and stir to mix everything well.
  7. Add the juice of the lemon half, the vinegar, paprika, and cumin. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add a little salt and any more of the flavorings that you want.
  8. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve in soup bowls or goblets and garnish with cilantro or whatever you would like.
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Summer is salad time. I’ve shared lots of different kinds this season. There is a salad that provides the healthy veggies that you need and has the crunchy chew of crusty bread. I’m talking about Panzanella. Any vegetable can join the merriment and any rustic or crusty bread will provide the perfect counterpoint. Again, this recipe is a basic guideline to be played with like croquet mallets on a summer lawn.

Panzanella Salad
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Panzanella Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Dressing
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the bread cubes lightly with the olive oil spray. Bake 15 minutes until the cubes are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut crosswise into 1/2 slices. Cut the onion in half crosswise. Cut each half in thin vertical strips.
  3. Put the onions and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the chopped pepper, cucumbers, and the bread cubes. Tear the basil leaves into bite size pieces and add to the bowl.
  4. Dressing: Mash the garlic, anchovy paste and a pinch of salt in a mortar. It should be a fairly smooth paste. Combine the oil, vinegar, herbs, and the garlic anchovy paste in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until the dressing is completely blended.
  5. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve.
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These are two of many recipes that shout summer to me. From early June to the last harvest, the bounty of summer vegetables can bring health and tasty variety to your table. Summertime seems to fly by more than any other season. The long days and warm nights are gone far too quickly. So, I’ll ignore the sweaters and boots in the stores and turn a blind eye to the Halloween costumes…there’s plenty of time to go there when it really is Fall. I’m holding on to Summer a little longer. Love, Mama D

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