|"High Summer" by Bruce Morrison|
We are heading towards high summer here on the Central Coast. The fruit trees offer ripe fruit, with nearly as much fermenting beneath the branches as are still on the tree. Vegetables are abounding, and we're enjoying everything from grilled eggplant to fried squash blossoms.
Fried squash blossoms are a particular favorite of mine, but as they are extremely calorie-laden, I eat them sparingly. In fact, I'll usually only make them once or twice in a season. Fried squash blossoms are to summer what latkes are to winter -- a ceremonial food that honors the season the way nothing else can.
I am also having a go at growing some lettuce in high summer -- no easy task. I pick the baby leaves early, before they get big enough to get bitter, and so far it seems to be working. For the first time in..well, ever....we have summer salads, albeit small ones. But with newly pulled onions, ripe tomatoes and cucumbers, you can make a pretty large salad without using a lot of lettuce.
The cabbage I harvested from my perennial cabbage plant was absolutely delicious, and made several servings of slaw, always nice on a hot day. And already more leaves are sprouting, which gives me hope of yet another harvest in a few months! Who knew?
The tasks of high summer are harvesting daily, watering, hanging wash out to dry in the sun and reading novels in the afternoons when its too warm to spend a lot of time outside. We close up the house at 9 a.m., before the heat sets in, and open the windows back up around 7 p.m., when it starts to cool off. If we make a dedicated effort to do this, as can eschew using the air conditioning entirely and just capture the cool of each day and lock it in for later.
|Eggplant, cukes, nasturtiums, squash, tomatoes|
The other big job for high summer is canning, and I currently have 20 pounds of ripe peaches sitting on the counter, waiting for tomorrow when it's predicted to be the coolest day of the week. That will be the best time to fire up the canner and put up some sweet goodness. Last summer I did not get around to canning any peaches and, come springtime, I missed making a nice peach cobbler or two.
(I did can some nectarines from our trees last season, but discovered they do not hold together well while getting water-bath canned. This spring I opened them up to find them watery and too mushy to use in anything. Lesson learned. Blech.)
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope you are staying cool and enjoying the tasks and rewards of high summer. After July, we're officially on the downslope to fall, which is bad or good, depending on how you feel about summer heat, and how bad your particular summer as been, weather-wise. This has been a cool summer for us, so far, so there's definitely a lot to enjoy.