At certain times of the year something strange comes over me: The urge to cook. The summer harvest, beginning in mid-August and stretching to mid-September is one of those times. (Full disclosure: I think it’s because the fresh fruits and vegetables are so vibrant and colorful that they make even an average cook like me look like a professional.)
I don’t hate cooking; I just usually prefer to do other things. I don’t have a green thumb either, but luckily some of our friends and neighbours do and they share their bounty with us. Last week one gave me a freshly-picked zucchini that could have fed an army. When I sliced it into rounds, I marveled at how the dark green skin contrasted with the pale flesh inside.
Another neighbour brought a basket of huge, red field tomatoes. Guests were coming for dinner that weekend, so the hunt for a recipe was on. I found one that was a feast for the eyes and the palate. Better yet, it made me look like a talented chef.
Really, all I did was add some rounds of store-bought yellow
zucchini and alternated them in a casserole dish with the green zucchini and tomatoes. I sprinkled olive oil, herbs, some Parmesan cheese and popped the whole thing in the oven. We ate it with juicy chicken thighs cooked on the bar-b-q. Heavenly!
And what’s a good meal without dessert? The Lac Saint-Jean region of Quebec is known for its small, sweet blueberries and I just happened to have two pints on hand. It wasn’t hard to find a recipe for blueberry pudding cake.
It’s more pudding than cake – a sweet, saucy blueberry filling with a hint of lemon on the bottom and globs of golden baked cake batter on top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and voilà – dessert! Best of all, it’s so simple, even I could do it.
A few years ago some friends who are Italian invited us to make homemade tomato sauce with them. Once you taste homemade sauce you can’t go back, so now it’s an annual ritual we hold each September. A group of us buys the best Italian tomatoes we can find from the local market. Then we spend an entire day together coring, seeding, cooking and jarring the resulting sauce. In a few weeks this year’s edition of what we call “Tomato Sauce Day” will take place. By the end of that day, I’ll have a collection of jars of ruby-red sauce that tastes like sunshine and sugar (neither of which is actually in the recipe!) to last me until next year.
And that will end my urge to cook until the cold weather sets in and I crave comfort food. Stay tuned!