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Holding On To Summer (Meals)

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Holding On To Summer (Meals)

Author: Bevin Wallace

Family meals don’t have to be tedious exercises in cajoling and whine-endurance. And never is that more true than in the summertime, when meals can involve campfires, cartwheels, al fresco cocktails, and interludes of skateboarding. But once we get into the grind of back-to-school shopping, summer reading panics, and fall sports practices (all of which start way too early in August for my taste), it’s easy to understand how we leave the summer mindset behind and find ourselves in a dinnertime rut.

But I contend it doesn’t have to be that way — at least not all the time, and at least not yet. And if you think I’m writing this for myself as much as anyone else, you’re right. So, in the spirit of keeping summer alive — at least where food is concerned — here are some strategies that seem to be working for me.

Pick one night this week to have a family picnic.

Pack your supper in a basket and bring it to a park. It’s amazing what kids will eat when it’s been pulled out of a picnic basket, plus you really don’t have to cook — which is nice, seeing as how it’s still summer. We did this the other night, and this is what we brought: one rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, one dry sausage, raspberries, cheese (Rembrandt aged Gouda), grapes, a chocolate bar, and of course a baguette. Oh, and a bottle of Bandol. Don’t forget: knife, plate or cutting board, and napkins.

Go to the farmer’s market.

Even though the kids are heading back to school and playing sports on Saturdays, I still swing by and pick up my summer food trifecta: corn, tomatoes, and peaches. These three items are at their peak of perfection as I write this. How can it not be summer when we’re grilling ears of corn and making peach ice cream, right?

Cook outside.

Not revolutionary, I know. In the summer, we do this almost every night because our house isn't air conditioned — and sometimes, if I’m cooking inside, I tend to get a little cranky. Then, as soon as school starts, it’s tempting to boil pasta instead of grill fish. But I am resisting as long as possible; the pasta days will be here soon enough. I suggest eating outside, too. A little bit of backyard skateboarding or baseball throwing during the meal is okay (since it’s summer and all).

Grill peaches.

The peaches are perfect right now, in case you hadn’t noticed, and it’s too hot to bake a pie or cobbler. Grilled peaches make a perfect, relatively healthy dessert — they caramelize and sweeten into something satisfying and really, really delicious. For a more decadent summer evening ender, serve these with ice cream (I suggest making a batch of  homemade). Here’s the recipe:

Grilled Peaches

Ingredients:

  • 6 peaches (they should be ripe but not overly ripe)
  • 1-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar to taste
  • Brown sugar
  • Olive oil (not the fancy oil you drizzle on salads; basic olive oil is best as it adds less flavor to the already perfect-tasting peaches)

Preheat your grill, if it’s not already hot from dinner. Rinse and dry the peaches. Cut them in half and remove the pit. Pour the vinegar in a small bowl and brush onto peaches with a pastry brush or paintbrush. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Brush the grill with a light amount of oil. Place peach halves on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn over and cook for a few more minutes until very soft but not falling apart. Serve with ice cream or alone.




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