Eggplants swell in the garden, purple as twilight beneath tomentose leaves; dark plums bend the branches low. Someone has gathered wood for a fire, and a salty brick of feta is draining inside, porous white and gleaming. And look! There, beneath the sprawling leaves, a melon hides, round and glowing, like an echo of the moon that floats free and slow up into the summer sky. August.
Lavender smoke is rising as orange flames flicker beneath a grill. Before that fire burns down too low, throw the eggplants into the flames. Turn them over and over, until they are blackened, soft and succulent. When you peel away the skin, the taste of smoke remains, and the flesh is creamy and rich. Baba Ganoush is simple to make, but full of mystery on the tongue. Let it whisper old tales to you, of tents and stars and sand, a dreamy oasis under a round moon.
Flatbread comes in so many shapes and textures. This one is gluten free, made from garbanzo flour, and it carries the taste of that redoubtable legume, like hummus in bread form. If you like it crispy, cook it thin and hot; for a soft, rich, foldable texture, make it pancake-thick. Either way, it is made to scoop up ganoush, peperonata, and many other wonders, beside.
What's peperonata, you say? I want to scoop it on a flatbread! Or perhaps you are familiar with the stuff, and want nothing more than to make it now, at the height of the tomato and pepper season. We've got you covered. Slathered, even. Spooned and scooped and sated. Here is the recipe to enliven every summer meal.
Milk has a season, like every other thing in this world. This is a time of year when young animals are often being weaned, and the milk that had been allocated to their young is now more available to us. What to do with it all? If you have a goat, or sheep, you simply must try this recipe; it’s one of the very best ways to preserve milk. But never fear; feta cheese is delicious made from cows’ milk from the store, too. It's salty and savory and firm, the perfect umami foil for many a summer feast. It’s what I like to call a gateway cheese; it introduces many of the techniques that are used to make hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda, with a minimum of investment in equipment. You’re going to love it.
Round ripe melon, cool curved cuke. Pinyon and feta and fennel and more adorn this summer medley, a shape-shifting salad that inhabits two worlds; not quite fruit or vegetable, one thing or another, but the best kind of compromise; where everyone wins, and differences are just interesting textures that complement and bring out the best in each other. It’s possible. Enjoy it.
Fruit wines are ancient, but the grape varieties have grown to eclipse all others. We have nothing against the venerable grape…but there is another world that waits to be rediscovered, fruits covered in a bloom of wild yeast, swollen with sun-ripe sugar. Here’s a recipe for plum wine, and an invitation, to boot: Please feel free to modify this recipe to suit your fruit, your tastes and preferences. Don’t be shy, don’t hang back and wonder how it tastes, or if it is ready yet. Dive in and discover how it changes as it ages. This wine can be drunk young, tart and sparkling as it comes from the carboy in the early stages of fermentation. Or let it age in bottles, to acquire a sophisticated polish. It will never be Merlot, but it will be another sort of spirit, a bright and earnest country wine that whistles as it walks down a dusty summer road.
Bring a basket with you, out under the trees, or out into the garden. The world is alive and full of flavors. Now is the time to reap the summer garden.