For me, corn on the cob will always invoke nostalgic memories of summer. My family would gather and grill in my grandmother’s small concrete backyard. Our corn on the cob was slathered in salted butter as we ate and talked outside amidst the low hum of the window air conditioning units, while the summer heat made our bare legs stick to the plastic fold-away lounge chairs (it was the 1980s). My grandmother, or mother, would secure the corn with little yellow plastic picks that resembled mini corn cobs, so that us kids could better hold and handle the warm sweet buttery corn. Life was good, our worries were few, and our chins were buttery.
The orchards in and around town are ripe with plump, juicy peaches and sweet raspberries. The kids and I spend a few mornings during the week picking and plucking fruit that beckons to be used right away. My most favorite way to enjoy our hand-picked summer harvest is to nestle the sweet fruit in the belly of a giant, puffy Dutch baby. Since every baby needs a name, let’s call this one Vanilla Dutch Baby with Peaches & Raspberries.
For anyone unfamiliar with a Dutch baby, I’m not referring to a sweet cherub-faced infant from the Netherlands, although that conjures up warm, comforting thoughts as well. This Dutch baby is a puffed-up German breakfast treat baked in a piping hot cast iron skillet, resembling something of a cross between a pancake and a popover. In short, it’s oven-baked bliss.
Have you ever visited the lavender fields of Provence?
We walked through rows and rows of purple-blue swaying lavender that overlooked a sweeping orchard. The scent that rose up from the warm fields was heady and intoxicating, and it was just as breathtaking as the view. With slow and purposeful intention, I carefully chose and cut the fragrant blossoms and began to fill my little woven basket, perfuming my fingertips with each touch. My children giggled nearby as they tried to catch little white butterflies that flitted from stem to stem, always managing to evade their reaching fingers.
This sounds like a fable, doesn’t it? I’d have to agree, except that it really happened.
However, this lavender field isn’t in the heart of Provence, it’s in the heart of Port Murray, New Jersey. Really.
Winner of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture #JerseyFreshLove Contest / June 2017
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James
Long, slow afternoons bathed in a gentle amber light, melting into purple shadowy evenings aglow with the spirit of a thousand fireflies. Oh, summer, please stay…
Living in northwest New Jersey, just a stone’s throw from several generations-old family farms, means the summer harvest is quite literally, and gratefully, all around me.
In my experience, people fall into one of two categories when it comes to garlic scapes, either they love them or they don’t know what to do with them.
Those in the latter category are certainly not alone, and understandably so. Garlic scapes are elusive, their time with us is brief. Unless you grow garlic yourself, or frequent a farmers’ market, it’s quite possible that you’ve never seen scapes before.
So, if you are fortunate to have access to these beautiful green tendrils, and don’t quite know what to do with them, let’s resolve that today.
Right now my early summer garden is abundant with several different types of fragrant basil. Translation: I have more than I can use right now. While I’m pretty good at snipping off leaves for our daily meals, sometimes I just can’t keep up. So when I find it’s time to bulk harvest my basil plants, I make a big batch of my favorite summertime dressing, Roasted Garlic & Basil Vinaigrette.