Friday, July 24, 2009


What are you doing this summer? Are you relaxing by the pool? Going to the beach? No? It's too rainy? You don't have enough money for a vacation? Too bad. Me neither. What am I doing? I am basking in the bounty of the summer harvest. Summer in upstate New York is a marvelous time. The produce is so fresh, so yummy, and so overwhelming! My friend Priscilla recently decided to make jam with all the fruit she had around. Blackberries and strawberries, gooseberries, tood been haunting her in her freezer since last summer. I love her strategy: she grows berries, but as they ripen only about a cup at a time, she freezes them until she has enough to make a pie or jam. Well, she procrastinated enough that she had fruit enough to make forty-eight jars of jam! yes, that is forty-eight. It took her ten hours. I helped for two of those hours and she gave me twelve jars. What a great friend. I think I have enough jam to last three years. Too bad you're supposed to use it within a year. I guess we'll have to have lots of trifle, and those homemade english muffins I published the recipe for a while ago.

I can't wait for the fresh, local, vine-ripened tomatos. I love summer tomatos so much that I don't really eat them much the rest of the year. They just don't taste right. The ones in the grocery in January don't make me swoon. A nice, ripe, August tomato had the power to send me practically to the moon with enjoyment.

And corn. There really isn't anything more to say about corn. Don't EVER buy corn at the grocery store if you can help it. Here in God's country we have corn stands every couple of miles. Farmers sometimes set a cart of corn and a coffee can for money at the end of their driveways. If you are lucky enough to have such a place, buy the corn the day you need it. Try making corn chowder. It is fantastic.

There is so much wonderful stuff this time of year, I couldn't possibly talk about all of it. I'll leave you with this recipe, from my mother's best friend. It makes use of the small, gherkin cucumbers that you can grow so easily or buy in huge baskets at the farmer's markets right now. This recipe makes a gallon of pickles, but I have done half a recipe. You could probably also do a quarter recipe. They will keep for a year in the fridge. I don't like to can these, they lose their crunch.

48 hour pickles
3 C vinegar
3 C sugar
1/2 C uniodized (pickling) salt
1 large onion, sliced
1 T mustard seed
1 T celery
1 tsp tumeric

Layer onion and cukes in a gallon jar, mix rest of ingredients and pour over. See if you can make yourself wait the whole forty-eight hours before eating them. I can't.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Time Flies

Has it been a month already since I last posted? I can't believe it. It is really hard to keep this up, the pressure from my loyal fans is almost too much. What if I have nothing to say? Okay, that's not really the problem. What if I have nothing I can say without deeply offending someone? Okay, that's not the problem, either. And it's not procrastination, either. I can't really figure it out. But enough of my introspection.

The party at Deb's was wonderful last month. It was very fun, and touching, and the food was really good. Even the food that I didn't make. Which was most of it.

Deb made a deceptively simple appetizer that is sure to please almost everyone: sausage stuffed mini-sweet peppers. You know, the ones that are about 2-3 inches in length and come in a variety of colors? She sut off the tops and stuffed them with spicy italian sausage and them grilled them. Fantastic and yummy. My other favorite thing was garlic scape pesto. She left out the parmesan because her hubby doesn't like it, but it was still really good. She even gave me a big container to bring home. I smeared it on some bruchetta toasts, topped with goat cheese and stuck them under the broiler. Really, really good. The garlic scape pesto has a tang that hits your palate right up front and almost knocks it out. But then it gets more complex as the intial jolt of flavor mellows into a multi-layered perfume. If you can still get garlic scapes this late in the season, make it.

The other thing she made that was really good was strawberry shortcake. No pre-made awful sponge cake for her. No, she took the Mendon Foodie's advice and baked a simple shortcake biscuit. My mom even makes the recipe from the side of the Bisquick box and even it is FAR better than the horrible little yellow disks they set out next to the strawberries at the grocery store. Just make a biscuit and add a little sugar. Pretty simple. Deb served the local fresh picked strawberries with some homemade almond ice cream. WOW! A truly great combination.

I pronounce Deb a soundly good cook. (But I'm sure I'll find SOMETHING about her cooking to make fun of. It is only a matter of time, you know.)