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15 BEST RECIPES FOR SUMMER'S SECOND ACT
What to eat in August: starring raspberries, blueberries, peaches, melon and corn -- In everything from pancakes to pasta to pie, and fresh-beyond-fresh summer salads.
I started writing this letter to you a week ago titled Almost August. I like the poetic feel of it—the sleepy summer rhythms it implies. But online publishing is tricky like that; blink, and the moment will pass.
It’s been two weeks since we returned from dreamy Lake Michigan with its pristine beaches, blushing peaches, and perfect ice cream everywhere (creamy milky base layers with ripples of fudge, black cherries, or both).
Almost August passed into actual August in a sun-soaked haze of swim meets and team breakfasts, blueberry picking, bike rides, and late nights in the yard with our bunnies and fireflies. We’ve packed in two movies: Indiana Jones (nostalgia galore—and a parade scene that was worth the entry price) and Barbie (an unexpectedly profound mother-daughter moment with our dearest pals, with tears and giant amens for both mamas during Ferrera’s Monologue), plus pie baking, kayaking and way too much ice cream. It feels like we’ve lived in a whole summer in these last 12 days.
Among all of this, the actual highlight—at least for me—has been being back in my garden and kitchen, creating. Camping in Michigan for six days—cooking only outdoors on live fire and shopping almost entirely at local fruit stands —has pulled back another layer. I no longer, at least for the moment, crave complex restaurant food or the service that goes with it. (If you’ve read along here for a while, you know I am usually very much pro-treat yourself to a good restaurant, especially if you do most of the cooking at home).
But this trip left me feeling impatient with overpriced, underwhelming restaurant food or anything lacking the nourishing quality of a thick steak and good market zucchini grilled over live fire, doused in fresh herbs. In peak summer, little compares with the joy of pacing through a mound of onions, zucchini, and cucumbers in yourself—shaving it all into salads and soups, taking care as you layer the last of every ingredient into the pot.
These weeks, I’ve been leaning hard into zucchini, corn, and the stone fruits lining our backyard trees. I’ve made this open-faced galette twice (once subbing in 6 cups of blueberries mixed with two sliced peaches from our trees for the filling), and my Nostalgia Wins Blueberry Muffins from EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY—this time with all the wild blackberries, currents, and raspberries from the yard, plus some rogue cranberries I had wallowing in the freezer.
There have been two giant pots of corn chowder from my first book, THE NEWLYWED COOKBOOK, this time adding smoked paprika and chopped garden zucchini in with the onions (so smoky and good!). And plenty of simple salads from the garden, like kale, bib lettuce, celery leaves, chopped cucumber, and sliced apple with a miso vinaigrette.
Everything tastes stripped back but deeply satisfying, alive—how I like my food.
I don’t have links to all of these meals. Some have been off-the-cuff and in my head, but I’m going to write up and share what I can with you here, and the rest can be found in my books here and here. All of these things are in keeping with my 15 favorite things to eat this time of year—linked below—for your week ahead.
I’ll get back to camping; there’s a lot to unearth there worth sharing (cliff notes: I’m way pro camping, with some caveats. Stay tuned!). Coming for paid subscribers: some summer reading, A Michigan Guide, plus the cornbread I’ve been making for 15 years— to round out all those grilled dinners.
Thank you, always, for being here.
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MY 15 BEST MID TO LATE-SUMMER RECIPES: (*click for photos)
What to make with all those berries, cherries, peaches, plums, melon, and pert ears of corn!
BERRIES + CHERRIES:
My favorite Summer Pancake (tender and light—with smashed raspberries!)
Cinnamon Buttermilk Waffles with Blueberries and Peaches (my favorite)
Oatmeal Yogurt Pancakes with Blackberry Crush (crowd favorites!)
PEACHES + PLUMS:
Peaches with Burrata, Proscuitto and Fresh Herbs (a sensory feast!)
Whipped Feta with Plum, Tomato and Avocado Salad (sublime!!)
Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Pasta Salad (a surprise hit!)
Late Summer Minestrone with Corn, Zucchini and Kale (akin to corn chowder, but with pasta)
Summer Seafood Pasta (summer dinner, solved!)
Prosciutto and Melon with Kale and Caper Berries (make this for every August party!!)
Melon, Ricotta and Snap Pea Salad with Green Apple and Chiles (worth the reminder!)