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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Summertime

Oh summertime . . . it's been fun . . . real fun. No school, no alarm clocks, Vacation Bible School, a trip to Georgia, Mason's 6th birthday, the beach, our anniversary, the swimming pool. But I have to be honest. It's time for you to go now. It's hot. Real hot. And we're ready to play outside again. We're ready for some cooler days and nippy nights. We're ready for some football. We're ready for soups and stews and gumbos.

I have a confession to make. I started burning my fall candle two weeks ago. I couldn't help myself. And since today is the first of September, I can see a glimmer of hope. Of course, our local weather personality says we will not come out of the 90s until September 27. But when we do, I am ready!

In the meantime, here is a bit of what we enjoyed of summer. After all, I can't think of anything better than summertime in the south. Except maybe football.

I planted a garden this year. It was more of a test run for me. I wanted to see what worked and what didn't, what I'd like and what I wouldn't. I learned a lot. Four cucumber plants are WAY TOO MANY. For days on end we picked nearly 30 cukes a day. Let's just say I ran out of things to do with them. The cherry tomatoes were wonderful for salads. That's nearly a daily staple at our house. Even Hannah Kate loves them. The only thing that didn't do was the eggplant. I was disappointed, as I dearly love those purple globes. The squash were bountiful, too, until a hail storm in late June damaged four of my plants. The bell peppers and jalapenoes were fair. Poor planning placed them in the wrong spot in the garden so they didn't get the benefit of full sun. The okra fared much better than I thought it would. And the sunflowers that I planted on a whim made me smile. Here's my garden. By this time, it was on its last leg, but it was still looking pretty good.
And here's a couple of days worth of my garden. There are dozens of cucumbers underneath the veggies you see here. I made a really yummy gazpacho one day. I also made a salsa with some of the tomatoes from my father-in-law's garden.Can I just tell you . . . those were the best tomatoes I ever put in my mouth. I also have a confession to make. Very few tomatoes have ever gone in this mouth because I've never like them. Until now. I know. It just doesn't seem southern. But now I'm hooked. I'm going to plant me a long row of Pink Girls next summer. And then I'm going to can those babies so we can enjoy them all year long. I ate a BLT everyday for several weeks. That was the highlight of my day. I also made a homemade tomato sauce. I'll never use canned tomato sauce again. And then there was the gazpacho and salsa.

Besides tomatoes (and sweet tea, which is just a given . . . and vidalia onions), nothing else says south in my summertime like peaches. GEORGIA peaches. My mama brought me a sack full when they came for Mason's birthday. Man. Maybe it's because I don't get them straight off the vine anymore from the peach farm a mile from my house . . . but these peaches were the best ones I've ever had! They were a bit small this year. But the flavor . . . oh my, it was just delish! We grill some. I made a cobbler.
And then I decided I was going to make a peach pie, crust and all. I've never done that before. I've always used a store-bought crust. But this baby took two days. I made the dough one day and the pie the next day. I used my bestie's recipe. She puts blueberries in with the peaches, but I didn't have any fresh blueberries. She also uses lots of cinnamon. It wasn't the prettiest thing in the world, but I popped it in the oven. I just didn't account for the fact that my oven cooks faster than nearly all of my recipes call for so I didn't adjust the temperature or the time. And I should have because it cooked so quickly that I didn't realize the top had browned (blackened?) too much and became a little too crunchy. The insides were yummy. But I have to admit I picked all the crust off. So next time . . . and there WILL be a next time . . . I'll turn the oven temp down and watch her a lil closer.
And since we're talking about food and all . . . here's our anniversary meal. Since we couldn't go out, I wanted to do something really special, something that we don't usually have. So I fixed our favorite salad with the oranges, strawberries, sugared pecans and blue cheese. I also made a French onion soup. I had to take a few shortcuts since I had to attend a wedding rehearsal smack dab in the middle of the evening, but it still turned out really good. And we had filet mignon. My husband is a ribeye-kind-of-guy, and I'm a no-meat-kind-of-gal . . . so usually when we have steak, Seth eats a ribeye, and I eat a baked potato and salad. But I splurged a little on this filet mignon. I ate a few bites of mine. It was . . . very . . . meaty tasting. I put a little parmesan parsley butter on top so it would melt down the sides. And we had parsleyed smashed potatoes.
We also began landscaping the front yard this summer. I planted a lantana that just exploded and took up way too much room, but it's so beautiful that I've just let it run wild. I really had no idea it would thrive like it has. And we have a host of beautiful butterflies to enjoy, too. The other morning I counted 14 after Mason got on the bus.

Then followed that beautiful season.
Summer.
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape lay as if new
created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



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