Lower Greeter Falls 2007, oil on canvas, 50 x 66 inches
The long hot days of summer elicit a languor in me and my cooking. This year the ennui provoked by the pandemic amplifies my usual slow summer pace. We eat the season’s fruits and vegetables from my garden, Zweck’s farm stand and the grocers, in simple dishes.
I read that nostalgia may be a help with stress and take great pleasure in rereading recipes and finding the occasional note on a recipe listing the date when, and the guests for whom, I have cooked a dish.
I browse through my cookbook collection to rediscover recipes to use with the plethora of delicious food now available. The northern Italian book for a zucchini risotto, Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors for a cold chard and sorrel soup, and my own book for cold beet soup.
I like to prepare some of the day’s food first thing while the house is cool. I may cook a pot of beans to have for this tuna and bean salad, defrost chicken to grill for dinner, bake a batch of cookies, or marinate tomatoes for the following.
I had a bag of our first tomatoes from Zweck’s, juicy and flavorful. I remembered a recipe from The Silver Palate, “Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil”, that I make only in summer when homegrown tomatoes are abundant.
The original recipe is quite rich, too rich, so I have adapted it to our taste. I encourage you to read and use recipes this way. They are a guide, a template, not the gospel. And as my sister Mimi wrote here last time in Summer Cooking, “most things don’t need exact-ness”.
So, I had a pound of tomatoes, a bunch of basil, and the ends of several pieces of Brie, about 4 ounces. I chopped the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces, the basil into ribbons and tore the cheeses into smallish bits. I added a chopped and mashed clove of garlic and a couple tablespoons of olive oil and left the bowl on the counter to marinate all day.
At supper time I cooked 5 ounces of linguine in salted water until tender, yet al dente.
Then in a serving bowl, I tossed the hot pasta with the cool tomatoes and cheese and served with a bowl of grated parmesan to garnish.
Another summer favorite is watermelon. This salad is inspired by one I had years ago at Zolo in Boulder. I have a ton of wild arugula going mad in my garden so some goes into each day’s salad. It’s a perfect partner to watermelon ─ bitter and sweet.
For this salad I cut slices of watermelon into 1-inch chunks, and tore the arugula into manageable bites. Dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then crumbled over some Amish blue cheese (I often use feta). You might top off with some chopped dill and a generous sprinkle of toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
We have had some delightful visitors here on Blue Mountain Road. As I opened the door to set the dinner table on the front porch one evening, I surprised a doe and her twin fawns, still with spots and giant mule deer ears they will grow in to. They have since returned to drink from our rain water tank, once coming within an arm’s length of my chair. These encounters enrich our lives and bring us down to earth, out of our pandemic funk and worry. We are so fortunate.