Even though the temperature is predicted to hover just below the hundred degree mark this afternoon, I can begin to feel summer slipping between my fingers. This has been a particularly comfortable summer in our area. Less of the usually oppressive heat, more cool breezes in the morning, and a lake that sits at the fullest level since we moved to our house on the hill ten years ago.
There are tells as the seasons begin to shift one to the next. Some parts of the country show these more dramatically with eye-catching splashes of color in the fall or showy displays of brilliant wildflowers in the spring. Yet, even if the shifts are less obvious, the days begin to get shorter or linger longer, the plants and trees begin to tuck in for the winter or start erupting in buds in the early spring. It’s that feeling of change in the air that taps at your senses.
Summer is my favorite season for clothing and outside activities. I’m happiest in a pair of shorts, a tee-shirt, and flip-flops. Days in the warm sun slathered with coconut suntan lotion, diving into a cold pool on a hot day, and the irresistible aroma of well-seasoned steaks cooking on the grill. Good stuff. Coming in at the bottom of my list of favorite seasons, for clothing at least, would be winter. Itchy wool sweaters, jackets, cumbersome boots as well as bone chilling air, making your ears ache if they are left uncovered. I like clothing that doesn’t restrict my movement. In my heart of hearts I think shoes and bras should be outlawed, but since they seem to perform a necessary function and nothing better has been invented, I guess I’m stuck with them.
The first school bus I’ve seen for the new school year passed me on the hill this morning. Children’s faces peered out the windows, some talking animatedly to their neighbors, and others looking like they were going in to have their wisdom teeth removed. Most looked freshly pressed, decked out in new clothes. Most probably each had a “signature” backpack sitting by their feet or resting in their laps. It seems that the choice of a backpack has taken on a heavier social significance over the years. Where once Barney or Miss Piggy got the job done, now a backpack apparently outwardly defines your personality to your peers. Zebra prints, perhaps an extrovert, Justin Beiber, a music fan, etc., etc.
Food shifts dramatically for me along with everything else with the changing seasons. As fall dominates over summer, the grill is retired and Crockpots, stockpots, and indoor grills are rescued from the garage. Ingredients for stews, soups, and hearty casseroles such as carrots and turnips begin to replace ears of sweet corn, green beans, and zucchini in my vegetable bins.
Growing up in my grandmother’s house in Nova Scotia, life, at times, seemed to revolve around food. Our garden, planted in the early spring, yielded a hearty crop. Cucumbers, when ripe, were picked and either served at the table or dropped into a brine for pickles. Palm sized ruby-red tomatoes were thinly sliced for salads or prepared to be put up as tomato sauce, tomato relish or spicy stewed tomatoes. My grandmother always said the best tomatoes were dark red in color and when held to your nose smelled strongly like a tomato (pronounced “toe-mah-toe” in our house). Hard to find these days. Snap beans, long and crispy, also made their way into brine or were put up in jars with red peppers and seasonings. Towards the end of the season canning jars were dusted and washed. The homey kitchen on warm late summer afternoons was often in full production. Jars were dropped into and removed from large pots of steaming water on a steady basis. During the winter months when the snow blanketed the garden beds, the wax seals would be broken, and the contents served as fresh as the day the day they had been sealed. Gammy and I spent many days together chopping and bottling all the fresh vegetables and fruits gleaned from our back yard. As her pies were legendary, apples, peaches, strawberries, and rhubarb were made into sweet fillings. Jars were lined up in the pantry to be used at a later date. Being a small girl, she would wrap me like a mummy in one of her aprons and I was allowed to observe the goings on from atop the red metal step-ladder. There was little wasted motion as her hands moved expertly from counter to pot. Thanks to her, I have never met a vegetable I didn’t like, um, except okra. I cook it but for my other half. Wallpaper paste, I’m just sayin.
It’s a nice time for me as we move into fall. I look forward to a cloud or two in the sky and a bit of shiver in the air when I retrieve the paper.
So, here’s bit of a transitional recipe to try. Have a great day!
Grilled Mexican Pizzas
1 yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/2″ slices
1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2″ slices
1 red pepper, seeded and cut in half
1 green pepper, seeded and cut in half
1 1/2 Tbsp. plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. prepared pesto
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 8″ whole wheat tortillas
Salt and pepper
Brush squash and pepper with 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dust lightly with garlic powder. Grill over med. heat 5 mins. on each side or until tender. Cut into 1/2″ cubes and place in small bowl. Add tomato. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together maryonnaise, pesto, herbs and set aside. Brush both sides of tortillas with remaining olive oil. Grill uncovered over med. heat for 2-3 minutes until puffed. Remove from grill.
Spread grilled sides of tortillas with sauce. Top with vegetables. Top all veggies with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese in that order.
Grill covered for 2-3 mins. or until cheese is melted.