Feeling Corny and Snippy and Blue

The blueberry field my husband gave me for my birthday.

(A gentle reminder that in case you haven’t had your fill of mystery writers yet this summer, Gerry Boyle and I will be at the Orrs Island library this Thursday at 7:00)

Kate Flora here, confessing to one of the biggest struggles of summer: Staying at my desk, in my chair, writing my daily quota of words, when the gardens of full of produce, the farmer’s markets are wonderful places to be, and my kitchen has a spectacular view of the sea.

So today, as kind of a culinary form of “playing hooky,” I am going to share a couple of summer recipes with you. This way, even if I’m tied to my chair, trying to make my quota, you can still enjoy summer’s bounty. Think of me as you sit on the terrace, or sit down to dinner, or gather with guests over a pitcher of white sangria, while I’m still a month behind and gnashing my teeth.

Hallie Ephron‘s Corn Salsa

– Kernels from 4 fresh ear of corn, dropped into boiling water for 2.5 minutes and drained, rinsed with cold water
– 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped fine
– 1 whole jalapeno pepper, chopped VERY fine
– 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped fine
– 6 tomatillios, chopped fine
– 1 ripe avocado, chopped fine
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
– Juice from 3 limes
– Salt to taste

Mix together and serve with corn or pita chips

Earlier this summer, in an exercise of total indulgence (or an effort to reclaim what’s left of me from the inevitable downhill slide that comes from a lifetime of sitting) my sister-in-law Emily and I went off to Mexico for a week in the mountains at a spa called Rancho La Puerta. It’s a totally gorgeous place with wonderfully healthy food. We danced and exercised and hiked all day, and in the evenings we read books, made jewelry, went to lectures, and played aerobic bingo. It was a whole lot like going to summer camp, only there were no perennially damp bathing suits, mosquitoes, or the hundredth singing of Kumbaya around the campfire.

While we were there, we took a cooking class with a visiting chef named John McReynolds, and one of the things we made for our group lunch was this:

Carrot and Parsnip Fritters and Feta Yogurt Sauce

Makes 32 fritters, enough for 8 servings

2 med. carrots, peeled and finely grated, 1 med. parsnip, peeled and finely grated, 1 bunch of scallions, root and top removed, sliced thinly, 1 clove minced garlic, 4 T. all purpose flour, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/4 t. pepper, 1/2 t. cumin, 1/4 t. smoked paprika, 2 T. chopped mint, 2 T. chopped cilantro, 2 T. chopped parsley, 1 large egg, 1/3 c. whole yogurt

Feta yogurt sauce:

1/4 c. Greek yogurt, 1/4 c. crumbled feta, 1 clove garlic, mashed, 1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Beat egg and mix in yogurt. Mix remaining ingredients in large bowl. Add egg and yogurt mix and stir.

Heat a griddle or large pan to medium. Spread olive oil over the bottom. With a teaspoon, drop spoonful’s of batter onto the griddle. Cook two minutes, undisturbed. Flatten slightly, cook two more minutes and flip. Add more oil if necessary. Cook 3-4 more minutes and drain, serve with the feta-yougurt sauce.

Totally delicious.

Unlike Chef John, however, I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants (or panther) cook. I often reach the end of a Saturday with a house full of company and no idea what we’ll eat. This summer, that resulted in this:

Pantser’s Blueberry and Peach Tart

Peel two or three peaches and cut into smallish chunks, place in a bowl with a pint of blueberries. Add 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a generous dash of cinnamon, a grind of salt, and 1-2 T. of corn starch. Mix together.

Grab one of those pre made pie crusts you always have in the fridge, spread it out over a 9″ square pan, fill the center with the fruit mix, fold in the edges like an envelope. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 and bake until finished, about another 20 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

There. Now you can have some fun.

I know that growing up on a farm where everything was fresh has made me a little bit nutty about food. Sometimes I’m completely knocked over by eating something fresh from the garden. It reminds me of how good food can taste. It reminds me of summers fifty years ago, when we’d have company from away, and my dad would say, “I’m going to get lobster. How many do you want?” Then we’d cover the table with newspapers, boil up fresh corn from the garden, melt some butter, and dig in.

And in case you haven’t had your quota of lobster yet this summer–our lobstermen are suffering, so do you part. Eat more lobster!




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2 Responses to Feeling Corny and Snippy and Blue

  1. Yum…. I agree, there is no substitute for fresh. We’ve been enjoying all kinds of things from our garden — eggplant, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and very soon — cabbage. Wish I had the time to “put things up” like so many Mainers, but that’s beyond me this summer!

  2. Lea Wait says:

    Oh, yes! Love this time of year, when farmers’ markets provide most of what ends up on our table. Last night we enjoyed fried zucchini and summer squash, just-picked corn, and grilled beef. Food has got to be one of the best parts of summer! Love the tart idea, Kate! And those fritters sound amazing …..!

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