Where I live every night of the summer we have Music in the Park from 7-8:30pm. It is such a lovely way to spend a summer evening that I find I am constantly trying to make portable easy dinners so that we can enjoy the spontaneity of all summer has to offer. I cooked a chicken last night and we still have a fridge full of cherries which led to the inspiration for tonight’s dinner.
I’ve been making chicken salad after a recipe from the Narrows restaurant (I think that’s where it came from), adding a tablespoon of stone ground mustard to mayonnaise, balsalmic vinegar, and a shot of hot sauce to the mayo and throwing in dried cherries (Michigan’s are the best), and walnuts with the onion.
I think that August might be the peak month for produce shopping at the local market. I could be wrong but I think mid-August might provide the widest array and biggest cross-section of fruits and vegetables. Apples and pears start to come in while you still have all the summer berries blueberries, strawberries, blackberries (my favorite) and even the tail end of raspberries can be found in August. You get plums, nectarines, apricots and of course who can forget peaches.
August is classically the month of peaches here in the interior and if you happen to be fortunate enough to live in the Okanagan valley you know the delicious abundance of peach season. For $40 I can purchase more peaches than I can process. I fill my cupboards with canned peaches, my freezer with frozen peach slices for smoothies and we eat peaches every day for three juicy weeks.
But lest we forget that we are still in prime vegetable season and while spinach is in short supply in these hot days a vegetable grower worth their salt will still have greens for you. Beautiful, luxurious heads of lettuce in wide varieties. Tomatoes, peppers & cucumbers of all shapes and sizes are found along side plentiful patty pans and delicate little potatoes.
And who could forget the summer squash that stole all the glory zucchini. I personally love zucchini season and it’s mostly because I love relish. What else goes in relish? Onions, white, red, green they all are available in August as well as the season’s first summer garlic. Herbs of every variety and what else is a signature of August? Corn. That ever so seasonal probably contaminated with GMO but you don’t care because it’s so tasty sweet corn.
You name it and you can probably find it at market in August so go crazy.
Roast vegetables. Roast LOTS of vegetables because before you know it they will be gone.
June sees the return of many of my vegetable favorites baby carrots, beets & potatoes first come out of the ground this month. Green onions can be found in abundance with radishes along side them. If you have had a warm enough spring peas make their first appearance at markets sometime this month and are a fleeting treat that is well worth the cost. We have never bothered freezing peas but do enjoy them when they are in season. Lettuce increases in variety and in size and the cabbage lover will probably find a small fresh head in someone’s stand.
Strawberries are the highlight of this months fruit basket with those delicious tender fruits appearing just as the last of the asparagus fades away.
I always find June a tricky month for cooking as it’s not quite warm enough for summer salads but no longer cool enough for winter soups and heavy dishes. Grilled vegetables becomes a quick favorite with the fresh baby vegetables bringing a new taste to the tired roasted root vegetable casserole of winter. We opt for lighter quicker cooking cuts of meat than the roasts from a few months prior the first batches of spring chickens are often found at market this month.