When I've spent the day pulling weeds on a humid summer day in Pennsylvania, the last thing in the world I want to do is stand over a boiling pot of soup. As the seasons change, so do the tastes of what brings comfort to my family.
When the sweat is dripping while I'm out dead-heading the posies, I get the biggest hankerin' for an ice-cold fruity freezer pop dripping down my chin and fingers. When the sun shines longer in the summer days, my taste buds crave something cool, fresh and simple. My family and I want something we can whip up fast so we can get back to the other things we enjoy doing on these warm days. There is much work – and play – to do outside in the summer season, so I look for lighter meal choices: Foods that aren’t heavy and will quench our thirsts; dishes that won't steal precious time from all of the summer chores and activities; and meals that will use up the abundant bounty of produce that is always ripening faster than we can pick it. (Hello there, 10 ripe zucchini in one day!) Staring at those blueberries, cucumbers and tomatoes all day inspires me to create delicious meals and taste the fruits of my labor.
A lot of canning is done during this time as well. When the stove is in use, it's usually holding a large cooking pot, a saucepan full of sterilized lids, and my hefty canner, which means no room for cooking anything else. The oven is simultaneously full of clean, hot glass jars waiting for their transparent bellies to be filled with whatever delicious produce is on deck for preserving that day.
This time of year, my paring knife, chef's knife, slow cooker, grill, blender and juicer are my favorite kitchen tools. The less time I'm standing over a hot stove, the better. (I'll get cozy with the stove and oven when autumn rolls around.) Not only does this save energy and keep our house cooler, it also keeps my family healthy and our days more productive. Pile your plate high with the season's fresh bounty, and grab an icy treat for dessert.
Try these cool summer recipes:
Ashten Swartz lives on a small farm with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys cooking with fresh ingredients from her garden.