Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer's Bounty

by Lisa Hughey

For me, summer is inextricably bound with food.

Perhaps this stems from my roots, my great-grandmother worked a farm until she was in her late eighties and then still had a fairly large vegetable patch squatting and picking until she was ninety odd years old. Summer meant going to visit my MaMae on the Eastern Shore, eating her sweet custard corn bread and savoring an abundance of fresh strawberries and corn and eggs.

Maybe it’s from visiting my grandparents in Baltimore during the sweltering humid days of June, eating peaches and tomatoes so big, one slice would extend outside the edges of bread slathered with a mayonnaise and salt & pepper.

Growing up in Illinois, summer meant farm stand corn bought on the side of the road, the day it was picked. My dad would come home and shuck the ears and minutes later the corn would be in the pot. Steamed and drenched in butter with a smattering of salt, so hot it almost burns your fingers, but you can’t wait for that first mouth watering bite.

Summer meant going strawberry picking, then making jam, canning jars in the hot steam, until you’re so tired you can’t see straight but not tired enough that you won’t sneak another berry, licking the juice running down your fingers from fruit so sweet it’s like candy. Hot summer nights where our entire dinner was salads: potato salad, skin on, celery, mayo, paprika, salt and pepper; egg salad; green salad with a little Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice; fresh sliced tomatoes.

Even though the farm is gone, my grandparents passed away, and the farm stands of my youth have given way to housing subdivisions and grocery stores, I’ve tried to carry those same traditions forward for my children. We get our produce locally, fruits and vegetables from organic farms and farmer’s markets. So while they won’t have the experience of going to the farm directly, hopefully they will remember the taste and experience of fresh produce picked and then eaten. And we planted our first vegetable garden this summer...together.

I hope you enjoy all of summer’s bounty.


ps–Martha thinks I planted my garden because of the potential coming apocalypse, so please don’t tell her it had more to do with my farmer roots...although I guess I’ll be prepared. :)


Sophie Littlefield said...

I'm so jealous! All I laid in for summer is a supply of Cheetos. :(

Martha Flynn said...

man, come apocalypse time, this is going to be one sweet "i told you so"!!!

Dana Fredsti said...

Drool... I'm starving now. And if there IS an apocalypse (non-zombie related), I'm coming to YOUR place for dinner, Lisa!

Lisa Hughey said...

Dana--you are welcome even if the apocalypse is zombie related :)

Martha--i'm having so much fun. Every day everything is bigger!

Sophie--well, they are orange and color in your food is a good thing, right? ;)