Summer

zucchini.jpgIn case I’ve never shared this with you I am crazy about the zooooks. I grew up eating my mom’s wonderful sauté of yellow squash and zuccchini that was a regular staple in our house and I find myself picking up zucchini whenever I can. And lately I’ve made many a quick summer evening meals out of zucchini and summer squash alone. It’s simple, easy, flavorful and delicious.

This dish began as a side to accompany a grilled chicken but soon became a main dish for me. I think it began from a recipe I tried a while back and mutated into something so simple and easy.  It’s really more of a serving suggestion than recipe since the exact measurements don’t matter. And I say they do not matter because I haven’t bothered to measure. See how sneaky I am?

I’ve been known to add a few thick slices of smoky grilled purple onions to this and have it for dinner without anything else.  As long as cheese is involved (and a glass of wine) I really don’t need much else.

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peachtart.jpgSlightly rustic and simply elegant, this easy dessert is a mainstay in this Farmer’s kitchen! The complement of basic ingredients with pretty fruit is what makes this dish so elegant. Peaches in the summer, apples in the fall, pecans in winter, and strawberries in spring, the dough for this tart is quite versatile.

Just shy of true pie crust dough, this tart dough is a perfect blend of the slightly sweet with just enough puff and flake. Sweet and tart peaches are the piece de resistance for this lovely dessert, and a glaze of peach preserves adds a beautiful sheen to the tart and makes the perfect dollop for serving.

Fresh from the farm peaches are wonderful just about any way you slice them. For this dessert, I leave the skin on, which helps hold the shape of the peach wedges. Arranging from a center floret of peach slices and concentrically ringing the dough with the fruit is quite beautiful if you roll the dough into a circle. If you roll your dough into a more rectangular shape, lines of peach slices make for a great presentation as well.

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savoryblueberry.jpgBlueberries just might be my favorite summer berry. When I was growing up, I enjoyed the blueberry pies my grandma made. I've never been able to recreate that delicious pie. And, for that reason, I come up with all sorts of ways, other than in pie, to enjoy the plump blueberries of summer.

I think it was four summers ago, at about this time, that I went on my first camping/canoe trip at Lake of the Woods. A friend, who was also on the trip, sent me a recipe for a blueberry relish sometime before we were scheduled to take off. I made the relish for her and brought it to Laketrails Base Camp on Oak Island in Lake of the Woods in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota, our starting point. Our fellow paddlers enjoyed the savory blueberry topping with goat cheese on toasted slices of baguette as a start to our meal the night before the big adventure trip under a full moon. There were times on our week-long adventure that we wished we would have had more of that snack.

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strawberrryavocadosaladSweet summer strawberries at their peak flavor combine with the buttery creaminess of ripe avocados to deliver one stunning salad. Just toss it all together with a simple lemon vinaigrette for a great seasonal salad.

Simple Lemon Vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

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whitecorn.jpg Where would I be without California farmers? If it weren't for them, I would never have discovered the sticky, caramel bliss of Medjool dates, the tropical pina colada flavors of cherimoya, or the simple joy of munching on raw summer sweet corn. Yes, raw corn.

At first, I was skeptical. Having grown up in New England, I was accustomed to bright yellow, fat kerneled ears of corn steamed to perfection and doused with melted butter and salt. But the LA farmer insisted I taste the raw corn he was offering: raw, white, small kerneled corn. How could such puny corn possibly be good without butter and salt?

Still, I held out my palm while he filled it with a scoop of raw corn kernels. With one swift swoop of the arm, I popped the entire handful in my mouth. It was crunchy, as in snap! crackle! pop! crunchy and surprisingly juicy. As for the flavor, well, it was natural. Just unadorned, mildly sweet, old-fashioned corn flavor. I was hooked.

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