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Summer’s Endgame

August 19, 2013

Everything is happening earlier this year. Stores were filled with back to school gear in July. I hear reports that pumpkin beer is already on the shelf. And here in Pennsylvania there are already leaves on the ground.

It’s mid August. This is crazy.

But maybe in some ways it’s okay, because a lot of stuff is going to be earlier this year. Well, at least if you are Jewish. As impossible as it may seem, Chanukah is going to fall on Thanksgiving. So at least when the Christmas displays go up around Halloween, instead of feeling obscenely early, it will be a welcome reminder to start the holiday shopping.

All of that aside, that nip in the air foretells fall. Summer is coming to an end. If I had a CSA, perhaps I would already start to see this in the weekly shares. But sometimes it takes the plants to catch up a little bit. There are often still decent tomatoes to be had in September.

If you don’t embrace the last of summer now, the next one is a long time coming. So here are a few thoughts.

Should you be lucky enough to find yourself awash in amazing tomatoes, make a panzanella pronto. It’s such a good way to capture every last bit of tomato juice in a hearty and delicious meal. Last year it was a staple on the Fussy menu. This year, I didn’t make one. Sniff.

Escalivada! If you’ve never made it, make it. This is one of those dishes where you take some simple ingredients, don’t do much with them, and yet they somehow transform into something glorious that’s much more than the sum of its parts. I wouldn’t give you bad advice. This stuff is amazing. Just make sure to use good ingredients, because in simple preparations, inferior ingredients have nowhere to hide.

Forget the bathing suit, eat the ice cream. It’s getting just cold enough out that you don’t really want to get in the water, but it’s still warm enough in the sun to make eating ice cream a pleasure. For me, I’ve been enjoying my favorite chocolate ice cream sodas with vanilla ice cream. I love how the soda freezes around the ice cream, and scraping off those icy bites with the spoon is one of life’s great pleasures.

Light up the grill. Yes, I know there are plenty of hearty folks who enjoy four-season grilling. I’m not there yet. And I suspect most other people prefer to cook inside when it’s freezing outside. Even if you are just flipping burgers or grilling the endless supply of zucchini, it’s worthwhile. There is fire, and smoke. It’s primal. And these are flavors and techniques that most people won’t be able to apply to food for a large portion of the year. So pick up a bag of lump hardwood charcoal, skip the briquettes, and get on with it.

Surely, I’m leaving out some vestiges of summer eating. But I know you’ll help me fill in the blanks. Now I’m going to watch in awe as my father-in-law makes his family’s famous pancakes. I swear they are the best I’ve ever had. Too bad he won’t let me share the recipe.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2013 2:16 pm

    I don’t know how they compare to your father in law’s, but this weekend I made Mark Bittman’s Everyday Pancakes from his book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (see http://markbittman.com/everyday-pancakes/ but substitute 1/2 tsp of baking soda for baking powder and Berle Farm’s whole milk yogurt, http://www.berlefarm.com/index.php, for milk – thin batter with milk as needed). Delicious!

  2. August 19, 2013 5:49 pm

    Pumpkin beer is an abomination and an insult to yeast.

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