July 2014

Henry David Thoreau —
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?
First harvest 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.31.14 Eat Your Vegetables

It's the last day of July. Summer is peaking! And I'm about to bid you farewell as we drift into the dog days of August. It's been strangely cool in these parts and the nights have been downright chilly, which makes for some powerfully good sleeping under a fluffy duvet. But the garden needs a lot of heat right now to keep producing—those tomatoes especially!—so I'm hoping it's just a blip. Speaking of the garden, ours is featured on Gardenista today; come for a visit here. Even if you don't have a vegetable-producing garden of your own, summer produce is abundant at farms and farmers markets. I stopped in at the Union Square market last week and came away with a big bag of red okra (I love it sliced and pan-fried, sprinkled with salt and cayenne pepper), another of English peas and 6 ears of sweet corn. These tastes really define the season for me and I can't seem to get enough of them!
Francis Bacon, Sr. —
A man's nature runs either to herbs, or to weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.
Dill potatoes 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.29.14 Playing the Tuber

Every year I take the month of August off from the blog and social media (well, mostly) so I can get in a little extra relaxation and outdoor time, which means this is the last week I'll be posting for a while. With that in mind, I have several juicy posts lined up for you over the next several days, jam-packed with images and ideas to get you even more fired up about these halcyon days of summer. Today I sat working by the open window as a storm rolled in, the gusts of wind carrying a spray of rain and the scent of crushed tomato leaves, fresh mint and ozone, and I took a moment to inhale deeply and remember that this is not forever. The day will end, the month will end, the summer will end...and all this lushness will be just a memory whose green contours will sustain us through the bone-chilling weeks that now seem so distant. So let's make hay while the sun shines, my friends, and not squander any opportunity to do whatever we like best: dangle feet off a dock, loll in a hammock, deadhead the roses, scream for ice cream, play Marco Polo, read in the shade of a big tree, go clamming, count the fireflies, and cook, cook, cook (eat! eat! eat!) the incredible bounty that is exploding all around us.
Euripides —
Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves.
Roasted3 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.22.14 Blenheim Bouquet

A good apricot is an elusive thing. As in the quest for a good man, you have to bite into quite a few before you find a winner. I read recently that Frankenstein farmers are taking the best elements from an apricot and the best from a plum and creating delicious hybrids with names like pluot, plumcot and apriplum. And yet I still want that perfect apricot, with its faintly downy curves, rosy bloom and fudgy flesh. Once in a blue moon, you might come across such a specimen, most often of the Blenheim variety. (Those of you familiar with Penhaligon's fragrances will remember Blenheim Bouquet, a bracing mix of citrus oils, spice and woods that has nothing to do with apricots but provided inspiration for the title of this post.) But somehow even the very best apricot never seems to quite live up to the taste I carry in my sense memory. Which is where roasting comes in...
Albert Einstein —
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Dish1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.18.14 Fresh, Direct

This is a quickie, just in case you've been eyeing those beautiful fresh beans at the famers market and been confused as to how you might eat them. They're not string beans—you don't eat the pod—but inside is a row of firm, buttery nuggets packed with flavor and nutrition. In the case of these cranberry beans, also called borlotti, the beautiful, red-streaked pod will catch your eye. The beans themselves are also flecked or striped with deep red, but they lose this color when cooked. No matter, they make up for it in other ways. Simply braised until tender, you can use these beans as you would dried ones, though they offer a distinct texture. I like them best drained of their liquid and tossed with a little sherry vinegar and some spicy green olive oil. Add whatever raw or cooked vegetables you have on hand—garlic, onions, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, greens—for a dish that's delicious warm, at room temp or cold.
Wendell Berry —
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.
Skillet 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.15.14 Let Them Eat Cake

There's just something about a skillet cake. In general, I find baking a bit fussy—all those steps, all that precision—so when I can make a relatively impressive dessert without taking out the sifter or the Mixmaster, without whipping egg whites or weighing flour, I'm quite thrilled. It's sort of the sweet equivalent of a one-pot meal. If you haven't already tried this apple version, or this plum one, try this recipe for a rustic cornmeal cake studded with ripe blackberries. They are the dark and glorious jewels of summer, their glossy black beads bursting with a subtly floral elixir. I love to see lips and fingers stained with their scarlet juices, which also seep into the cake much like a trifle. It's no work at all to throw this together and the soft moans of pleasure it elicits will only add to your satisfaction.