How is it October already?! There is a crispness in the air and I am sleeping with a duvet on my bed, which is a sure sign that one of my favorite seasons has come to an end.
While I have not blogged about it, my summer was indeed chock full of fun travels, great visitors, and lots of new food adventures – so I thought it would be fun to highlight the last 5 months with 9 of my favorite food things from the summer.
- We made it out camping twice this summer. The first trip over Memorial Day weekend to the San Louis Valley, where we got to discover Great Sand Dunes National Park, the very funky town of Crestone and tried hip camp for the first time. We had an awesome sunset that night and I discovered the beauty of canned of wine!! While I was familiar with boxes of wine and their amazing application in the wild, I was so excited to discover the cans that keep bubbles fresh and are perfect for a night outside. Of course, Sofia Coppola made this popular years ago, but now it’s wildly accessible, affordable, a normal size and there is no straw! Winning.
- MARGARITAS – does anything say summer quite like this cocktail? Ok, maybe the Aperol spritz, which I promise is not basic and is just due to a really strong marketing campaign by Aperol this year. But as you may know from long standing readership, that I do love the margarita and am willing to try it in many forms. My go to is base is equal parts lime juice, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup, mixed in a ratio of your liking to tequila – don’t do anything but fresh squeezed here, it’s really the only way to go. I upped my game to Espolon tequila, which isn’t top or bottom shelf and lended itself quite well to this mixed drink. We even tried a watermelon version this year with fresh juice from a mini watermelon that came in my food box – so delicious!
- In addition to a fresh watermelon, I got a ton of stone fruits in my weekly box as well – peaches, nectarines and plums. To be honest, stone fruits aren’t my favorite, but I was determined to not let them go to waste. I had my parents visiting for a couple of weeks and decided to make this cake with my mixture of fruits and it was delicious! My dad was so surprised that there was fruit IN the cake, he thought for sure that it was going to be soggy inside and not really work, but it does! Though I did need to cook for a while longer to make sure it was cooked through (blaming the altitude and my slightly different baking vessel).
- More food box stories! I love love love breakfast – making it at home is especially enjoyable to me because I get to stay in my PJ’s, read the paper, and make sure that everything comes out just the way I like it. I’ve been very disappointed by breakfast out lately, so I was even more pleased with these sublime breakfast tacos. All ingredients came from my food box and garden, but really breakfast tacos can use whatever you have on hand. I used leftover roasted potatoes and turnips, scrambled eggs, sauteed kale, fresh tomatoes and finished with Sadie’s New Mexican salsa, which has become my new favorite due to le boyfriend. The real key here though was crisping up the corn tortillas in a bit of oil to give them some texture. Yum!!
- This is the third year I’ve grown kale and I couldn’t be more enamored of this home grown staple. It’s the plant that just keeps giving and has a variety of uses. I LOVE lacitano/dino/Tuscan kale, and I had a plethora of it this year. We were eating it as salads, sauteed, and in this delicious Lemon Kale Pesto. I don’t have a recipe for you, but it’s super easy. In fact, I subbed out different cheeses and nuts each time based on what I had in the house. The general idea is to pulse a generous portion of kale with the zest and juice of a lemon, a handful of nuts (walnut, pecans or pine nuts for the traditionalists will do), a couple of cloves of garlic and a handful (or a couple) of hard cheese grated like Parmesan or pecorino, until they are a little chopped up, then leave the machine running as you drizzle in olive oil. Stop and check the consistency along the way, until it’s where you want it. Also, I do like to throw in a handful of basil, just to make the greens flavor more dimensional and lend a little more traditional pesto flavor. It is great served as pasta sauce, on pizza, with goat cheese on crackers, it’s time to get creative.
- I took my first significant summer vacation to the east coast this summer. We spent ten days spread across beach time in New York and exploring New England. I loved every minute of it and I had my heart set on trying ALL the lobster rolls the minute we landed in New England. Our first stop was at Ford’s, which is a short drive from the New London ferry terminal. I learned that traditional Connecticut and Rhode Island lobster rolls are the ‘hot’ variety, where the lobster is simply dressed with melted butter. My other sandwiches were of the ‘cold’ variety where there is a bit of mayo and seasonings, which is more traditional in the rest of the region. I loved them all, but really give the whole experience to Ford’s since it’s on the water and you can enjoy your food basking in the glory of the sunshine and the harbor.
- I just came back from a long weekend in New Mexico, where I was reminded just how cool and different the southwest is. It has a unique aesthetic and culture, specifically food culture, that is unmatched. We had amazing food the entire time and if I’ve learned anything from my friends who grew up in New Mexico it is that they are passionate about their chiles!! I attempted stacked enchiladas earlier this year and used some dried peppers from last season’s harvest, which led me to take my over abundant harvest this year and make a ristra! I thought I was buying bell peppers, but ended up with two rather spicy varieties instead, which I think will be great for enchiladas this winter. The ristra was super simple – thread a needle and string the chiles up! One set of directions I read suggested fishing line, which I would also recommended, given my thread broke at the very end of the process – I salvaged it, but it was touch and go for a minute. Side note: we checked out Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, which was very funky and fun experience – highly recommended if you are there.
- Back to the food box. I got two huge heads of cabbage over the course of a few weeks, and while cabbage is not really on my cook-with-all-the-time list, I managed to discover a couple of great things. 1) Coleslaw. I googled a recipe and adjusted a couple of things (less mayo, more vinegar, didn’t have celery seeds), but it was THE perfect side for our salmon burgers after going for an evening summer bike ride to Blue Moon Brewery. 2) Pork and cabbage with apples and pears. I kind of came up with this one on my own, but the idea is brown your meat (we did pork tenderloin the first time, but the real star was bratwursts the second time) and remove; saute thinly sliced cabbage and apples; add some mustard, a can of beer, vinegar, soy sauce (google around for good cabbage and pork flavors); nestle in the meat and cook in the oven until it’s done. I used this recipe as a kind of starting point, but cabbage and pork are SO good together you can’t go wrong.
- ICE CREAM – if margaritas are the drink of summer, ice cream has to be the dessert of summer. I bought an ice cream maker last year and played around a bit, but not a ton, then this year I bought The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, which has proved a game changer and absolutely outstanding. I have loved every recipe I’ve made: strawberry sorbet, milk chocolate ice cream, blackberry and lime sorbet, French vanilla ice cream, American vanilla ice cream with THIN MINT COOKIES, Aztec chocolate ice cream, olive oil ice cream. Milk chocolate may just have been my favorite, but French vanilla was spectacular too and my friends loved it, Will’s favorite by far was the Thin Mint for which I saved a whole role of cookies from Girl Scout Season. Home made ice cream is SO easy and SO good, I don’t really see this dying down in winter time.
And that’s it, my entire summer round up in 9 food related topics. It’s been busy and delicious, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.