I can't believe it's August already. Where is the summer going? Last summer was filled with leisurely days of lounging in my back yard on a comfy chair with my pups tethered nearby and a cocktail and a good book on a tray next to me. I was well-rested, brown-skinned, and all smiles (the cocktails might have had quite a bit to do with the smiling) last summer.
This summer has a completely different vibe. Yes, there are still good books and cocktails in the picture this year, but I've only spent one afternoon in my comfy back yard chair and I am certainly not well-rested or brown-skinned.
This has been a busy summer. J and I have been busy working on our house, running errands, processing and cooking our CSA shares, and hitting green markets for fresh and in-season produce to put up for the winter. We're working hard this summer to make ourselves happy and comfortable this winter. It's hard to keep our eyes on the prize, though, when we seem to be work-work-working our summer away.
J has been getting frustrated with the amount of time we've been spending in the kitchen, so I know it's time to reflect on finding some balance. I know, though, that the more cooking and preserving I can do now, the more free time I'll have during the hectic school year. This is a tough call, because free time now is so warm and fun and pleasant and the promise of free time later is simply too abstract to grasp. During the summer I forget how sleep-deprived, overworked, and stressed I get during the school year. I need to find some time for warm summer fun and I need to make time to squirrel away all of the amazing produce coming into season this month so that we can eat well and conveniently during the school year.
Saturdays are always about running out to the farm for our weekly pickup of farm fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, and flowers. These runs are a fun weekly ritual. We're forced to get out of the house and we treat the pups with an always-appreciated ride in the car. Riley especially loves to stick his head out of the window and snurfle when we're winding through the rural roads of the North Fork.
Don't my boys look like they're having fun?
Just as much fun as the ride out to the farm is the moment our haul for the week is finally revealed to us. Yes, the farm often posts a list of items for the weekly shares earlier in the week, but the list is often wrong. So, when we get to see the CSA board for the first time, it's like waking up on our birthdays. Here's this week's goody list:
This pickup had our bag bulging with the bounty of mid-summer. There was a lot of food to bring home this week and all of it was fresh and beautiful. I've got big plans for all of this produce.
The lettuce, baby bok choi, turnips, broccoli, and bunching onions will join forces with some green market carrots, sweet onions, garlic, and celery and some of my home grown jalapeno peppers to make tasty lettuce wraps. I love the contrast of hot (veggie stir fry) and cold (lettuce cups) and sweet (carrots and turnips) and spicy (jalapenos). When the lettuce runs out, this stuff is tasty served over some brown rice.
The arugula will make a tasty green salad, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
Cucumbers find their way into everything in my kitchen. Sometimes they're just a tasty snack with some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sometimes they find their way into a salad or onto a sandwich when I want something crunchy. Sometimes they're a great cracker-or-chip-substitute when I make hummus or some other kind of dip. Sometimes they are an essential side dish, especially when I make curry. One of this week's cucumbers has already been a salad ingredient and a snack. The other two will probably join the tomatoes turning red and yellow in my garden and some green market red onions for J's favorite summer salad. He'll eat this straight out of the fridge as is or stuff it into whole wheat pitas with some baked falafel balls (we did this last week) or toss it on top of a bowl of lettuce.
I've completely overdosed on corn this summer. I've just hit that wall where I can't eat any more corn. J, on the other hand, can't get enough of the stuff. So, some of the corn will be grilled up for J's dining pleasure and the rest will be trimmed off the cobs and dispatched to the freezer. I'll boil down the cobs to make corn stock again because I'll be making tons of corn chowder for J after the first frost. He loves the silky, velvety, earthy combination of corn and potatoes and cream. I love making soup and bread when the weather is cold. I can see it now - homemade bread bowls filled with steaming hot corn chowder (with my home grown potatoes bobbing in the creamy broth) waiting for us after shoveling down the sidewalk and driveway after the first big snow. You know, I hate winter and I despise snow, but I'm actually looking forward to both just to get a bread bowl full of corn chowder. Bring it on! (Give me a couple more warm months first, okay?)
I haven't used marjoram until now. I know it's part of the mint family and it bears some resemblance to both thyme and oregano. I'm thinking of drying some for later use and experimenting with some now. It will probably find its way into the big vat of tomato sauce I'm making this week and maybe sprinkled over a salad or pasta dish. I need to play with it to learn more about it.
J says he loves apricots, but I've never seen him eat one. If he doesn't eat these apricots I'll probably turn them into jam. I've read several recipes for apricot jam and I'm fascinated with all of the techniques for using the apricot kernels in the cooking process.
I loved loved loved the yellow plum sorbet I made with our last batch of plums. I might whip up another batch because it was just that good. On the other hand, a jar of plum jam or plum compote would make for a happy Sunday morning breakfast with some freshly baked biscuits or scones or waffles.
I love blackberries. As much as I'd love some homemade blackberry compote for pancakes and waffles (when I have pancakes, I want them smothered in blackberry compote), half a pint of blackberries just isn't enough. These little black-purple-bumpy jeweled beauties will be eaten straight up in one sitting, popping in my mouth like caviar and turning my lips a funky shade of violet. I hope we get some more in next week's share. I'll be searching for them at the green market this week for sure.
I got some new dishes at Fishs Eddy for making baked eggs. Some of our organic free-range beauties will find their way into these dishes atop some of homemade tomato sauce. I'll serve them piping hot from the oven with slices of homemade crusty bread.
The flowers this week were colorful and cheerful.
See how heavy the bag was this week?
Okay, enough writing. I'm off to the kitchen to prep some produce so that I can sit in the yard later with the pups and a good book.