I’m thinking ahead, jonesing for the cool days of autumn. My morning walks with Luke the wonder dog have been warm and muggy – just like the good old sweltering days when we lived in Florida. Later on it’s going to hit 92 degrees today. It’s September! Enough!
I know I will regret this, but I’d really like to have some cooler weather. All my whinging isn’t going speed up the global weather patterns, so I am going to make some hay while the sun shines: I am going to make and delight in the glories of summer foods. Again. The time of roasted vegetables and soups will come soon enough.
We have a three-day weekend to enjoy, after all. There are farmers’ markets and garden treasures, trips downtown for ice cream, cookouts on the back porch, expensive beers at baseball games, and maybe we’ll make one last trip to the farm stall for ears of local corn.
I like having a leisurely weekend breakfast, and last Sunday I made some lemon ricotta pancakes, with blueberry syrup and thick slices of bacon. I read a description of lemon ricotta pancakes in an article about hotel breakfasts in New York City, and suddenly I was hungry for a stack of them – not that I had ever even heard of them before. I needed to have some. With blueberry syrup, too. My chances of a New York hotel breakfast are pretty slim most weekends: there is always a lawn to mow, and the railings of the back porch needed another coat of paint. Homemade is best, I always rationalize! And so we got cooking. https://www.grubstreet.com/2022/08/new-hotel-breakfasts-nyc.html
Luckily our friends at Food52, who could probably eat trendy New York hotel pancakes any day of the week, had a recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes. Of course they would. They are geniuses! https://food52.com/recipes/85520-best-lemon-ricotta-pancakes-recipe. I like their smaller size, too; easy to flip and not so filling as regular, stodgy, plate-sized pancakes. They were sweet, light, crunchy and oh, so sweet. The perfect summery breakfast treat.
I found a recipe for the blueberry syrup in the New York Times, but their paywall is annoyingly impregnable, so I cannot just give you the link. Here is the gist: For a quick compote to serve on top of your delicious lemon ricotta pancakes, put a handful of blueberries, or other summer berries of your choice, in a medium pan with three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (or water) and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer, watch the berries bubble and pop, then reduce the heat. I added about half a cup of maple syrup, to get it nice and drippy. Caution: I walked away for a minute, and it started to boil like crazy, so keep on eye on yours.
There are still dozens of summertime meals to try. Tomatoes aren’t going to be this fresh again for a long time – take advantage! You won’t make potato salad in November, so make one this weekend. While the grill is fired up, toss on some zucchini slices – you know you won’t want to in February. You will be dreaming about a nice, cool pasta capese salad, with pearls of fresh mozzarella and torn homegrown basil when the north wind is whistling down the chimney in January. Cole slaw admittedly is very tasty with roasted pork when you are trying to warm up from gelid winter conditions, but it is also divine with grilled hot dogs. Have you had enough hot dogs this summer? I didn’t think so.
And we haven’t even touched on summer desserts! Let’s go for some summertime back-of-the-box deliciousness:
• Strawberry shortcake isn’t just for the Fourth of July. https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/bisquick-strawberry-shortcake/370099a9-c927-4eae-93ba-ab66a455b996
• Key lime pie. This is the only recipe you will ever need: https://keylimejuice.com/category/recipes/desserts/
• Chocolate wafer refrigerator cake. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/220495/zebra-cake-iii/
• Year ‘round brownies: https://thestoriedrecipe.com/classic-bakers-chocolate-fudgy-brownie-recipe/
There is going to be plenty of time soon enough for sweaters and falling leaves on my morning walks with Luke. In a flash we’ll be making warm and stodgy meatloaf, chili, and winter stews. Go be summer grasshoppers for another weekend!
“How softly summer shuts, without the creaking of a door.”