Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime, and the living is easy....

Well, actually, in the southeast summer means it's 94 degrees outside with 85% humidity, and in my book that is definitely *not* easy living. It means the mosquitoes are out, and they're large enough to haul off a small chihuahua. It means that car interiors are hot enough to hardboil eggs, and you get third degree burns on your feet if you walk barefoot on concrete. It means that your AC runs non-stop 24/7, and the water in your plastic wading pool evaporates faster than you can refill it.

On the other hand, you have gardens exploding with fresh produce, ready to pick and so full of flavor it's criminal. (OK, yes, that is a rhetorical trope but don't blame me - I'm waxing rhapsodical over homegrown tomatoes, darnit!) Just think.... a fat red perfectly ripe tomato sliced thick with just a tiny bit of salt and pepper, laid out on Wonderbread with a thin coating of mayo. Heaven. Or consider Silver Queen corn, newly shucked, quickly steamed then slathered with salt and butter. Then again, there's the quintessential watermelon - eat it in huge slabs outside by the lake (or hosepipe) and let the juices flow where they may. Spit the seeds at the chihuahua (those the mosquitoes haven't carried off) and then pickle the rind so nothing goes to waste.

And then there's the zucchini, the crookneck squash, the peppers, the peas and beans and cucumbers and carrots, the cantaloupe and peaches and plums and blueberries and blackberries and pears... So much abundance and so little time! So I pull out the boiling water bath canner, and my trusty freezer bags, and set to storing the bounty. Freeze the blueberries whole on a cookie sheet, then pour the frozen balls into bags. Ditto the blackberries (and strawberries too, but they're more properly a spring crop around here). Blanch peas and beans and shucked corn and toss them into freezer bags too. Make pickles and relish out of just about anything, cukes and squash and peppers and cauliflower. Hot or sour or sweet, it's all good. Slice and can the peaches and pears, or make jams in a huge variety of flavors. Harvest all your herbs before they bolt - for basil my favorite way to store it is to chop it up and mix it with a tiny amount of water. Then put it into an ice cube tray and freeze. You'll have perfect servings are hugely aromatic basil (and oregano, and sage, and other leafy herbs) for soups and stews and pestos.

Then when you're done look at your pantry, and see all the wonderful things you'll have to eat this fall, when you're *really craving* a crunch of corn or some blueberries for a late afternoon bowl of ice cream.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a tomato sandwich and a couple ears of silver queen corn!

No comments: