Summer Hiatus

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As I sit at the kitchen table typing this, a cool late spring breeze pours in from the window. Outside, in my sight line, the bright blue and white kiddie pool sits, surrounded by wayward buckets and toys. The drone of large rider mowers from next door’s landscaping crew joins in the more distant hum from the neighborhood at large. Inside, the pressure cooker starts to hiss on the stovetop, a large batch of white beans in the making. As I eat a thick slice of whole wheat sourdough slathered with butter, honey and smoked salt, I am thinking of how school is almost over, and that we will soon drop into the wavy thickness of summer. Writing time gets more difficult to wrangle, so the blog will suffer as I spend any precious time I get to work on other writing projects.

In the meantime, I wanted to check in once more, before I sink under the waves of summer. You can always see what I’m up to on Instagram–lately it’s been all about the strawberries in my garden, which are slowly giving up one or two last berries. I’m not too sad, because I’ll try to get at least one visit in to Thompson-Finch Farm, as they just opened for picking. A bag or two of strawberries in the freezer is my goal. The ones I grow I just eat obsessively, the only preserving was three jars of syrupy strawberry sauce for golden cakes and vanilla ice cream.

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I’m trying not to post too many photos of the snow peas, the seeds of which I generously received from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. They are as tall as me, which I guess isn’t saying much, and they are producing abundantly. I have given pounds of them away to friends, brought several pounds to a garden day at my son’s school where kids grabbed handfuls and stuffed them in their mouths to my amazement, and I’ve eaten my fair share as well.

They are best dropped into boiling water, making sure they are all submerged, and turn off the heat. Let them sit, covered, for one, or tops, two minutes. Then drain them and give them a quick cold rinse. I’ve been eating them with a splash of tamari over white rice, and it’s quite the opposite of the meal it sounds like. It sounds like diet food, or a Tibetan monk’s meal, but really it’s rich and delicious, filled with sweet crunch, salty backlash and chewy resistance. The snow peas are incredibly delicious, and I can (for the moment) eat them every day and still love them.

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Before I go, I wanted to mention the new book from Marisa McClellan, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, that publisher Running Press kindly sent me. This is the third book by McClellan, and I really feel it’s my favorite. There are too many great ideas in here to list, but rhubarb-parsley syrup is one of them. So is date pancake syrup, which I have made and already finished entirely it is that good. Marisa is so creative, and I always look forward to the new ideas she generously gives to her readers. I only hope that her next one is about cooking in general, because I know her creativity, knowledge and excellence as a cook is massive, and I think we have only gotten a peek at what she is capable of. This June McClellan is teaching a class called Preserving Our Edible Bounty at the nearby Hudson Valley gem Omega Institute. Sign up for what looks to be a delicious weekend filled with beautiful scenery.

So cheers, everyone! I hope you have a great summer. Don’t forget to make some watermelon aqua fresca, which I drank a ton of over the Memorial Day Weekend when I bought a huge thirty pound water melon and took a knife to it. Once the flesh is in chunks, blend it with water (about 6 cups watermelon to 2 cups water) and then pour it through a sieve. To the resulting juice add some lime and a bit of simple syrup to sweeten a touch, though you might like it unsweetened. Watermelon juice is always welcome on a hot day, it’s cucumber-y crispness is what I love.

From my cutting board,

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