I’m finding their isn’t much “produce” in this year’s produce. The heat has taken its toll. Yesterday I threw out about 25% of the beans while snapping, and after roasting 6 lbs of tomatoes, I barely had enough soup to fill 9 teacups. But even with the drought, I have found newness in my summer. The girls and I picked peaches for the first time. My cousin lives next door to a beautiful orchard outside of St. Louis, and while the peach harvest has been affected by drought and hail, it was a lovely, novel experience.
I have never much cared for peaches, and to be specific, I should state, I have never much cared for the peaches I was given as a child. CANNED. I don’t care for canned peaches. Because those were a staple of my childhood (along with cottage cheese….why? Why the peaches and cottage cheese?), I simply assumed I was not a peach eater. In reality, I am not an eater of limp, syrupy fruit served at room temperature. I have always carried a memory of my my Grandma’s homemade peach ice cream as the finest dessert I have ever tried, so I couldn’t help but thinking that perhaps I could like peaches, if only presented to me in a different setting.
Last year I made peach freezer jam from a bag of fresh peaches I bought from a local farmer. Oh! YES! These peaches. I like these peaches, Sam I Am. While I assumed I would jam my 20+lbs of peaches, the girls spent all of this week begging for peaches. I tried one, and well, so there you have it. Fresh peaches picked off a tree are a different food altogether.. Now I was inspired. Knowing I would be hosting a dinner party at the end of the week, I couldn’t help but wonder if Peach Cobbler should be the dessert? I’ve never even considered eating Peach Cobbler. The wish to try peach cobbler inspired the entire menu, which I secretly dubbed in my head, “A Summer’s Bounty”:
Watermelon Salad (served on skewers of 4 balls of melon after marinating)
Guacamole from Whole Foods (sorry, not homemade, because nothing on earth beats Whole Foods Guacamole)
Roasted Tomato Soup with Serrano Cream (added the cream this time around, and YES; let me assure you…yes)
Chicken and Noodles (This recipe is a close approximation to my noodles; I use unbleached flour and have a hand crank noodle press and drying rack. To serve 10 people, I make 4 lbs of noodles, boil 2 large flats of chicken thighs, cool and chop, boil the noodles in 2 large cans of chicken broth, add the chicken back in, salt and pepper, and sometimes just a little bit of yellow food coloring.)
Green Beans with Almonds (Fresh snap beans, boiled but served firm, tossed with sliced almonds, less than 1 tbsp of butter, and salt and pepper.)
Honey Roasted Carrots (Organic is noticeably different in carrots; peeled and sliced, cooked at 425 for 30 minutes, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, honey drizzle during the last 10 minutes of baking.)
There was nothing fancy or unusual about the menu, and I have linked to half of these recipes before. But there was a certain magic in designing an entire menu around the season, adding very simple white candles sitting on small plates and French teacups filled with white daisies and tiny hot pink carnations, and leaving the remainder of the table entirely white. It was an extraordinary evening, spent with truly exceptional friends. And as I sat listening to the laughter, sipping the last drops of coffee after the cobbler was devoured, I couldn’t help but think this is living. Food is love. Gathering is love. Spending a week thinking about the friends and the cooking and the menu filled me with so much love. So with the summer bounty upon us and calendars filled with plans, what dishes will you be sharing with loved ones this season?