Summer Mood

Summer [ suhm-er ] is the season between spring and autumn. Just three short months in the Northern Hemisphere—June, July and August. If we're lucky, some of those Indian summer days languish into September.

Edible flowers harvested at the Case Western Reserve University Farm

Summer means longer days, more daylight and food that we look forward to all year and can be savored during those luxuriously warm days. Fresh peaches, berries, ice cream, corn, vine ripened tomatoes, basil, BBQ, s’mores and iced tea. Memories of sitting on the front porch of my childhood home after dinner until way after dark and wait for the lightning bugs to appear. 

Our garden would be at its absolute best with tomatoes, collard greens and a Concord grape arbor tended lovingly by my parents. We frequented some local neighborhood farms for corn and would drive from St. Albans to Elmont to Gouz Farms for milk and ice cream. The Gouz Family had a farm with cows, goats and sheep and you could watch them bottle milk right before your eyes. 

Today, I enjoy visiting farmers markets in Northeast Ohio--they are like a candy store to me. Flowers, piles of just picked fruits and vegetables, corn, locally made foods, cheese, maple syrup, honey and more. It's my little staycation.

Local strawberries from Woolf Farms at the North Union Farmers Market in Shaker Square, Cleveland

To me, summer is a time to reducir la velocidad which means slow down. When the temperatures soar, and it’s hazy, hot and humid, I naturally move slower so I can actually feel the warmth radiating from the sun. 

 

Luscious ripe strawberries from Rittman Orchards and Farm Market at the North Union Farmers Market in Shaker Square, Cleveland

And while I no longer enjoy the carefree summers of a child, I take time to enjoy the bounties of nature that only summer brings like sitting by Lake Erie and gazing out on lake life, enjoying ice cream from a local stand, sitting on the deck until the sun goes down and riding my bike during the coolest part of the day, which Is usually early in the morning. 

The strawberries have been exceptionally sweet this summer and while I eat an abundance of them plain, I've taken to roasting them which brings out a delectable intensity of flavor. The berries break down, release their juices and caramelize. It has become my favorite topping to enjoy with ice cream, in smoothies or a sundae, in a Pat’s Granola yogurt bowl or parfait, over oatmeal or sandwiched with peanut or almond butter for a fancy PB&J.

Simply combine a pound of hulled (remove the stems) strawberries (you can slice the larger ones) with one quarter cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract in a large bowl. Gently toss and place the berries on a cookie sheet with a lip (to catch the liquids that get released) in a single layer.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. You can cool them slightly and then refrigerate in a jar for up to a week (if they last this long). These would perfect to bring to a BBQ for a make your own sundae bar!

What are your favorite summertime treats? Please do share, we'd love to know!

 

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