Before hopping on the Kal-Haven bike trail Saturday morning, I got to enjoy the South Haven Farmers Market. Kind and generous farmers and artisans were as abundant as the produce. There is still plenty of gorgeous fruit for picking up there, though the woolen mittens remind everyone that Southwestern Michigan fully embraces all of the seasons.
I benefited from my co-worker Zora’s tomato abundance yesterday! I made some soup and thought it was a great time to try out a cheese cracker recipe I’d been holding onto, Ina Garten’s Parmesan & Thyme Crackers. I thought about using pecorino romano (because I prefer the sharpness and can’t get enough salty sheep’s milk cheese), but when I was at the cheese case I spotted Dubliner and knew that was what I wanted to use. The sweetness of the cheese complemented the fragrance of the thyme and balanced the acidity of the tomato. When these crackers are baking they smell like cheese straws, but when they come out of the oven they melt in your mouth. Simple and tasty.
I was flattered when asked to bake a cake for my dear friend Mary’s 30th birthday back porch celebration. I asked for her top 5 ingredients, and she said, “lemon and raspberry would be on the list, possibly strawberry or coconut. Usually chocolate, but it’s so-oo hot that fruit is on the brain.” I found a hot pink raspberry cake recipe, then I was told about this lovely lemon yogurt cake recipe. Why not both? I added frozen raspberries to one of the layers of the undoubtedly light and fresh lemon cakes, and topped it with raspberry cream cheese frosting. The hot pink cake turned into mini-cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream. The evening was filled with deliciousness (her husband makes homemade breads! and they made those nuts I can’t stop eating). The birthday girl was aglow.
Those hands have been peeling peaches for 75 years! My grandma was one of ten brothers and sisters who grew up on a farm in Northeastern Indiana. This time of year, they would get up to seven bushels of peaches at a time, and the five girls would sit on the front porch and peel them for canning, to put up for the winter. In the summer months, my great-grandma, Margaret Beck, would do all of the baking in the morning on a cook stove. On special days, she would bake pie. She used giant pie tins and always made at least two at a time. My grandma came to stay with my mom this week, the first week for peaches in our area. I visited one day after work and spent time with her in the kitchen. That night I sat at the table with my mom and grandma and ate peach pie off of my great-grandma’s dish.
Who doesn’t like a sandwich cookie? There are so many good ones, and I made my first jammie dodger yesterday! I added cinnamon to Martha’s shortbread cookie recipe for the biscuit part and jarred huckleberry preserves for the jammie part. Huge thanks to my mom for picking up some huckleberry preserves for me when she was in Montana last month. I will make my own someday… maybe after a future summer visit to a Farmer’s Market in the northwest where the fresh dark purple berries are plenty? I think it’s the heat, but big ol’ dinners are not appealing lately. Tonight I was satisfied with a tart and spicy huckleberry jammie dodger, buttery slices of manchego, fresh apricots and iced tea. Flavor grand slam in my ballpark.
A porch swing. What’s better than a porch swing? Pie on a porch swing! My sister came up to her in-laws’ this week and somehow through the magic of text messaging and family recipes they put together a lovely spontaneous cookout. Not bad for the middle of a workweek! She made some pies, her father-in-law did some grilling and we all ate well. The cherry pie is a Southern Living recipe, and the peaches and cream pie is from Great Grandma Manges’ family cookbook. The internet is pretty great for recipe finding, but family recipe cards and books are among my personal treasures. Later I will have to say more about spaghetti squash and shrimp on the grill, but right now I’ll appreciate the coziness of a welcoming front porch.
Last summer my sister went to a teacher’s workshop in Shipshewana, IN. She returned with homemade fudge, taffy, cheese curds, pecan brittle, and a story about a homemade fried blueberry pie. A young Amish mother and her two boys kept a fried pie stand; the boys took the change while the mother served fresh fried pies! It sounded so delicious that I didn’t forget about it, and since blueberries are in season I had to try it out myself. I used my grandma’s pie shell recipe and a version of Betty Crocker’s blueberry pie filling with extra lemon juice. The combination of late spring fruit and fried pastry really felt like summer was underway. More versions must follow!