August has its blessings, too. The sun may feel oppressive, but it brings us ruby tomatoes and juicy peaches. This gazpacho takes advantage of those, with the added bonus that it requires no cooking. I keep a jar in my refrigerator, and no lunch is more refreshing on a hot day. When I embrace the season, I can find the joys of late summer. [...]
I can’t stop time, but I can preserve the summer just a little, and capture some of my childhood summers at the same time. When I was a little girl, I would spend some of those infinite summers with my great grandmother, eating berries out of her garden, getting into her cookie jar (I can still remember where it was kept), and eating her homemade tomato jam. Not a chutney, or another version of ketchup, the way so many tomato preserves recipes are, but a tomato jam, brightened with lemon, with that musky tomato flavor and the pure sweetness of preserved summer. Perfect on toast, for that lazy summer breakfast, this really is summer in a jar. [...]
How to do summer, in 19 easy steps:
1) Chill the Vinho Verde.
2) Pack the kids off to grandma’s, or distract them with a movie, in a darkened room.
3) Head out to the garden. Stop to smell the roses. Get distracted by the hammock. Lie down, for just a minute.
Somehow I blinked and it’s mid August. Labor Day is in sniffing distance, the days are getting shorter, the stores are full of sweaters, and I seem to have missed summer. Every year I have a mental list of things that I will do in the summer. Swimming in a cold pool, then lying in the sun until my swimsuit is dry, then jumping back in. Going on the ferris wheel at the pier. Sitting in my garden as the sun gets low, drinking Pimm’s Cups and chatting with good friends. And here it is nearly September and there are so many things still on my list. But one thing I have done is enjoyed the summer produce. I love the berries and the peaches, the watermelon and the plums. But nothing screams summer quite like corn and tomatoes. These vegetables, so anemic and disappointing if you venture to eat them fresh during any other time of the year, bust out into full, sweet glory in the summertime. More than anything else, summer is eating corn, spread with butter, each sweet juicy kernel bursting in your mouth. And summer is the smell of red, ripe tomatoes, the juices dripping down your chin. This pie is summer. I saw the recipe last year, when it was printed in the dear, departed pages of Gourmet, and filed it for later. Later is now, because this pie is phenomenal. Sweet crisp corn and juicy tomatoes, bound together with creaminess and cheddar cheese, and if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, the pie crust here isn’t a regular old pie crust, but buttermilk biscuit dough, rolled thin. This pie is the taste of summer camp, of fireflies, of jumping in a cold lake and sweet months of vacation. This pie is the summer I’ve been missing. [...]
It’s May in Southern California. The mornings are foggy, the jacarandas are in bloom, the days are warm, though the nights are cool, and the afternoons are stretching further into the sun dappled evenings. Aesthetically, it’s a beautiful time of year, but culinarily, it’s a bit of a pickle, especially if you’re in the mood for salad. The butternut squash and cabbage salads of winter no longer satisfy, there’s only so much asparagus you can eat, and lettuce gets a little boring. But summer vegetables – the zucchini, the corn and most of all, the tomatoes, are still a long way off. Tomato salads have been calling my name, but I can’t get anything but a tasteless tomato, and won’t be able to get anything more for a couple of months yet. The solution is the slow roasted tomato. By cooking a standard supermarket plum tomato in the oven at a low heat, the sugars caramelize, the juices concentrate, and what you get is worthy of my favorite summer salad – panzanella (though they’re also terrific in sandwiches). [...]