Summer is a-comin’ in, eating habits change

Tuesday was officially the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, which means it’s time to celebrate, right?

Tuesday was officially the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, which means it’s time to celebrate, right? Hey, it’s as good a reason as any to throw a wee party, even if it’s just for the family, or even two of you. For that matter, if you’re alone, why not do something fun just for yourself during these long-lasting twilight hours?

Thus far, June hasn’t shown much promise of summer coming along anytime soon, but we who live in the upper left hand corner of this state know better than to expect true summer days until after the Fourth of July.  To date, this has been one of our wettest, and it seems to me, one of the chilliest Junes we’ve had for a few years. But, as the poet said, “This, too, shall pass.”

One of my earliest childhood summertime memories is being trundled off to bed in the early evening, while the sun still shone outdoors and I could see daylight seeping around the edges of the drawn shades. All the kids in the neighborhood, from three on up, played outdoors all day, but we who were the youngest were always called in even before dusk, and put to bed. I could hear the older ones still playing outside, including my brother, who often taunted me from just outside my window:

“Nyahh, nyahh, little Margy has to go night-night, nighty-night baby sister…”

I believe that was the beginning of the lifelong problem I’ve had letting go of any day and going off to bed, thereby causing me to become a major and habitual night owl. Over the years, of course, I’ve blamed my two brothers for many things. Isn’t that what brothers are for?

As this is written, it’s raining, there’s a chilly breeze blowing, and you’d have a hard time convincing me summer is a-comin’ in anytime soon. Once again, they predict rain this weekend.

Anyone up for a rousing game of kick-the-can?

RECIPES

Among the many fine elements of summertime is the change in our eating habits. Come June, it’s all about fresh, fresh, fresh, including fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Most of us also tend to eat lighter, leaner meals, primarily because there’s such a variety of delicious fresh produce available. Yes, our growing season is short; all the more reason to take advantage of every bit of it. And yes, it’s all about keeping it easy and quick, to enjoy more of the precious time outdoors.

SCALLOPS WITH ARUGULA SALAD

¼ t. Dijon mustard

1 T. balsamic vinegar

3 T. olive oil

½ lb. sea scallops (fresh)

2 T. minced shallot

About 3 cups of arugula, rinsed and spun dried (or use water cress, or any small crisp lettuce of your choice)

1 carrot, shredded

½ cup fresh-from-the-cob corn kernels (or use frozen, thawed)

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, 2 T. of the oil, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Pat dry and season the scallops with salt and pepper. In a non-stick skillet, heat the remaining oil over med.-high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté the scallops for 2 min. on each side, or until they are just golden and cooked through. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a plate or bowl and keep warm.

Add the shallot and about 1 T. of the vinaigrette to the skillet and cook mixture over med. heat, stirring, until the shallot is softened. Remove skillet from the heat, add the scallops and shake the skillet to coat them with the vinaigrette.

In another bowl, toss the remaining vinaigrette with the arugula, carrot and corn. Divide the salad between two plates and arrange half the scallops around each salad. Serve immediately. Serves 2; easily doubled for 4.

We have such a short season for ripe tomatoes that I search out recipes at every opportunity to use them while they’re at their most abundant. This tomato soup recipe is still among my favorites.

FRESH TOMATO SOUP

1 t. quality olive oil

2 T. minced shallot

3 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomato

¾ cup milk (yes, use low-fat)

½ cup low sodium chicken broth

½ t. salt and a dash of white pepper (or to taste)

¼ t. celery seed (more, if preferred)

1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (or cilantro, or oregano, if preferred)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over med.-low heat. Add shallot; cover and cook 5 min. or until tender. Add tomato, cover and cook 15 min.

Place tomato mixture in blender container; cover and process until smooth. Add milk, chicken broth, salt, pepper and celery seed, process about 5 seconds, just to mix. Return mixture to saucepan, add lemon juice and cook over med. heat about 8 min., or until heated through. Garnish with basil (or cilantro or oregano) and, if desired, also sprinkle on some freshly grated cheese, such as Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano. Makes 4 one cup servings.

 

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