Archives for August 2012

Grasping at summer

I’ve never been one to usher in the arrival of fall with whoops and cheers, eagerly abandoning the over-ripening tomatoes and mammoth zucchinis for early apples and taut leeks.

I know the fall produce season is a good long one, so these days I overlook the (howbeit, beautiful) bushels of oval Roma tomatoes at the market, and pass over the heaps of Spartan apples in favor of yet another basket of peaches, a flat of berries (perhaps the last for many months), a dozen ears of corn, and the largest bundle of basil to be found.

Back in the kitchen, I turn the basil into pesto and freeze it in muffin cups for use during the winter. The boys hunker down by the compost pile and shuck the corn for me, so I can cut it off the cob and add it to the freezer as well.

I serve up salad after salad for dinner, followed by generous slices of melon, which we all -even Clara- eat until the floor under the table is sticky and the rinds are heaped on our plates.

I understand that autumn’s arrival is inevitable. I don’t pretend to ignore the landscape of school supplies spreading across the buffet. I’m aware, painfully so, of the faint tint of gold on the leaves in the back forest.

Even today, as we picnicked with lemonade and cookies on the grass (an undeniable attempt to salvage summer), I felt a chill in the air. Clara’s bare feet felt clammy. And I shivered even though the sun was shining.

Yes, August hangs by mere moments, but I’m choosing to live in them, deliberately.

On Sunday I cannon-balled off the diving board at my in-laws, amid shrieks from my boys. I let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, relished the cool quiet, then surfaced in the sun. Perhaps it would be the last swim of the season.

I stripped Clara naked and dunked her in the clear blue salt water as well. She’s only going to have a soft teeny dimpled bottom to appreciate for so long. At five months she’s sitting and nearly crawling. In as much as I’m aware of the season’s turning, I’m as painfully aware of how quickly she is growing up, transforming from infant to little girl.

Christmas products are in stores and holiday baking is starting to plaster Pinterest, yet I’m firmly stuck on summer. I’m buying up stone fruit and baking desserts like Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler, which Danny and I consume together after the children are in bed, our spoons congenially scraping the bottoms of our bowls together.

The best way I can come to terms with the approaching autumn (and subsequent winter) is to preserve the summer season in jars. This week I roasted trays and trays of peaches slowly in the oven, and as they perfumed the house, they reduced into a thick, rich butter. I seasoned the butter with a dusting of fresh cinnamon, tipped it into hot jars, and gave them the hot water canner treatment for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, the pints of cinnamon-peach butter join the other jars in my pantry: sweet zucchini relish, pickles, cherry-plum jam, strawberry jam, blueberry butter, sliced peaches, cherries in vanilla syrup, and more.

Slowly, one jar at a time, I am conceding the end of summer.

How to Grill Whole Fish

Written by Megan of Stetted.

How was your summer vacation? I had the good fortune to spend a chunk of August with my family in a cozy riverside house in Wisconsin, doing all that vacation entails: practically nothing.

One thing I made sure to do while we were vacationing was to have plenty of real food on hand (to help balance out all those fireside s’mores). We weren’t too far away from a couple of cities with farmer’s markets, making it easy to load up on veggies. And of course, we were housed at the perfect location for rounding out the meals – the river was full of fish.

At first I was a little … concerned about cooking whole fish. It turns out, though, that cooking whole fish is a breeze, and only slightly more messy than cooking a fillet.

Grilling is my preferred method for cooking the fish, but if you don’t own one or have already retired your grill for the season, whole fish can also be baked in the oven with similar preparation.

[Read more…]

Eat Well, Spend Less: Bringing back the menu plan for fall

As much as I have been crushing on summer lately, it will be a relief to get into a fall routine. The last month has been deliciously scattered, with more waffle breakfasts than I can count, but I also can’t match one. single. pair of socks. We need some order restored.

This week begins our entry back into school. I’m packing Noah off to Grade 2, Danny out the door to work, and dropping Mateo at French-immersion preschool three afternoons a week. What Clara and I are going to do with our girl time remains to be seen. Perhaps we’ll whip this household into shape. Perhaps not.

At any rate, restoring order to our meals is my first priority. I kinda blew the food budget for my recent birthday dinner/harvest party (totally worth it) and am planning a lean September, which shouldn’t be that hard, considering produce prices are at their lowest right now and I have a well-stocked pantry of dry staples.

Cracking down and spitting out a weekly menu plan is also part of my plan to save money this month, as well as help us stay organized for busy school days. I’m no stranger to the menu plan, but it kind of goes out the window over the summer weeks.

[Read more…]

Concede Summer’s End with Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler

I had another post in queue for you for today, but it rightfully got shoved to the back burner mere minutes after I scraped my bowl of cobbler clean on Wednesday and declared I had to share this simple summer dessert.

We’re hanging onto summer by a thread. Noah goes back to school next week  and Mateo has his first day of preschool after the long weekend.

Recipes featuring pumpkin and apples are already making an appearance, and they are making me nervous. I feel like I haven’t eaten enough Corn on the Cob with Feta-Mint Butter, or Marinated Tomatoes. Just the other night I tweeted:

I love fall flavors as much as anyone, but for now, let’s give summer fruit it’s deserved due – and this cobbler is the best vehicle I can possibly think of.

[Read more…]

Set up a snacking station and more tips for a (parent friendly) kids’ party

My birthday each August marks the beginning of the end of summer for us, but on the positive side, it offers the perfect opportunity to throw one last party before the children go back to school and we are once again slave to those early bedtimes and morning routines.

Last weekend I did just that, inviting over forty friends and family for a harvest dinner on our urban homestead. I envisioned us eating outdoors, near the raised beds, seated around one long table. (My ‘Tablescapes‘ Pinterest board definitely played into that aspiration.)

Just this once, I wanted to give the parents a break. I wanted them to have a proper glass, be able to use a knife and fork, and be seated, instead of trying to balance a flimsy paper plate of food, a drink and a bebe in arms. More on how that worked out later; this post is about the little ones.

I had 15 kids attending; I needed a plan to keep them out of their parents hair – if only for half an hour or so – and feed them efficiently: and so the snacking station was born.

[Read more…]