On August 8 of each year, American cooks and gardeners celebrate …
photo courtesy national calendar day dot com
As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning. With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches. Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff? Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.
The Colorado growing season is short, but mighty. We make up for the reduced length with the best and sweetest Olathe (pronounced: o-LAY-tha) sweet corn and toothsome, sticky-dripping Western Slope Palisade peaches. (Visit Colorado wine country, too, if you go to pick peaches.) Somewhere in there the Rocky Ford cantaloupes also ripen, the Pueblo green chiles are roasted on street corners–going into myriad pots of pork green chile or into the freezer for scrambled eggs at Christmas and Super Bowl snacks. (We eat a lot of New Mexican Hatch chiles, too, which come in somewhat milder versions.) If you’re really lucky, you even know someone who fly fishes and will bring back trout we smoke to last all winter long. (More on those last three another post.)
By the way, the Olathe Corn growers and the Palisade Peach producers each sponsor local festivals every summer and they’re coming right up:
Cooking with Addie posts will come up periodically and are designed for older kids or teens learning to cook. Not a kid? Make this anyway!!
It wasn’t too awfully hot this morning, so I was willing to turn on the oven to make some muffins I’ve been dreaming about for quite a while. Addie, my young fellow cook and blog-reader, is quite a baker according to her mom and also from the photos I’ve seen. It seemed a good thing for the next “COOKING WITH ADDIE” (a short series of older kids’ cooking posts this summer) to be something scrumptious for the oven. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, I think you might enjoy some seasonal summer muffins this year. (Dessert is still coming up in the last post of the series; don’t despair!)
When it’s cherry season in Colorado, I’m usually baking a pie. That’s because our cherries are sour cherries –or pie cherries– depending upon where you’re from. You have to grow your own sour cherries or beg from a friend wherever you live; they don’t hold up well for shipping, so…
“Man (and woman) cannot live by bread alone,” was always the truth. Even the very best of bread, which is some of the most wondrous and healthy food in the world, must have its topping, its gilding, its raison d’être–its reason to exist. Bread bakers, feel free to chime in disagreeing here.
Add wine, of course. How about other necessities like song and laughter? That would mean a party and the most memorable parts of the current season (the touch of hot summer sun lingering on glistening skin, a crash of sudden wild storms cracking open in the distance, the heady sniff of freshly cut grass, hot orange day lilies along the path, sleazy dog-eared paperbacks sporting just such language) all call out for such a gathering to occur at night and out of doors.
Now you and I know that there might not actually have been something called Basil-Bacon Salsa, but there is now. It could be mis-named, but it seems to work for gilding the lily of this tender, crisp, juicy simple grilled chicken. I occasionally do a sort of Italian salsa (generally called Raw Tomato Sauce) with just tomatoes, basil, and garlic or onion for a quick topping of meat, grilled bread, or pasta; this time I had bacon cooked and thought, “Why not?” Chicken and bacon are certainly compatible–and now “Basil-Bacon Salsa” is a thing around here.
It’s a blissful day when what appears to be languishing on the counter or in the fridge comes together into a sumptuous, healthy, fun meal that easily solves the question, “What’s to eat?” on an oh-so-hot afternoon. Here’s today’s tale:
For Christmas, my in-laws generously ordered Dave and me a year’s subscription to Harry & David’s paired fruit and cheese. Each month a new treat arrives and we never know what the box will hold. Sometimes there’re apples and Cheddar or perhaps pears with Manchego; this last time there were tiny yellow-gold mangos plus a citrus-ginger BellaVitano. Instead of pairing the most recent delivery as we were meant to do, we sliced up the some of the fruit for our morning yogurt/granola...