Monday, August 20, 2018

Summer Lovin'

When I was in camp, there was a massive songbook we were given on Saturday nights which contained the lyrics of songs we might choose to sing. There were more traditional songs and ones more current, which, being the younger camper I was, generally preferred. But, unlike my fellow campers, I was less cultured in the likes of Broadway or even classic movies which led me to believe that the movie Grease was about the actual substance. And, on some level, I suppose it is but it's really a love story which means its songs can border on the scandalous... when you're young. I remember cracking a smile with my bunk mates when Summer Loving was chosen as a song (or was it Summer Nights). To us back then, the song was rife with innuendo but now I realize it's just horribly un-PC. But summer is a time for love and unlike the ubiquitous summer fling, nature takes actual care of us by providing us with foods that help cool us in the warmer months. Below are a few foods that help to balance the rising temperatures at peak season and a few recipes to which they can be applied. Enjoy!

Even though I write about food, I rarely know the specific time frames in which foods are in season. The other day, someone was raving about the corn on the cob at a particular restaurant to which I replied, "'tis the season." In response, they informed me that, "actually corn season isn't for another few weeks." (This post was written several weeks ago, btw). I'm not sure if I hate those particular people or am simply self-conscious that I don't know when foods are in season but I think it's a combination of both. Anyways, when looking at the spectrum of the summer, I'm well aware that at least cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and melons (basically foods heavy in water content) peak sometime between May and August. And while you may have noticed in Mylking It More that I'm not the top recipe developer in the game, I've linked some recipes below which make the most of these summer sensations. 

Raita: Just as winter is a great time for one-pot recipes where you can throw something on the stove and forget about it, summer (in my mind) is a time for dips. Whereas we might curl up for warmth in the winter and man-spread on the porch in the summer, we likewise let our flavors combine in our winter stews and keep things rather separate in the summertime. And to this notion, cucumbers pull double duty as a food you can dip while cooling your body with its high water content. According to Chinese Medicine (and Men's Journal) there are warming foods which boost circulation and cooling foods which help, "clear heat and remove toxins from the body." I happen to like my cucumbers with hummus but on the topic of "double duty," why not make a dip with cucumbers themselves? The raita above will keep you cool as a cucumber...

Salsa: Following the theme of dips, we come to one of my summer favorites... salsa. I'm a huge fan of salsa... probably because I'm a big fan of sauces which is technically what "salsa" means. In the recipe above, the cooling power of tomatoes is contrasted with the fact that they're roasted... taking out a little more water and adding a little more flavor. Of course, you could always make salsa fresca without the heat (link here) or, put those tomatoes to good use in a gazpacho.

Melon-Mango Yogurt: In Mylking It More, I tried to make (n)ice creams that maintained the consistency of something normal people would eat... but to little avail. Before my ice creams went in the freezer, they generally maintained the consistency of yogurt (if I was lucky). And so, while I attempted to make a melon-mango ice cream, I simply settled on melon-mango yogurt in order to save you the extra step of freezing. Like their cousin the cucumber, honeydew melons can cool you on a summer's day while adding a bit of sweetness to your routine. To make the yogurt above, place the following in a blender:

2 cups frozen honeydew
1 1/3 cups frozen mangoes
1 13 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. honey

Blend on high and enjoy.

So there you have it. A couple'a recipes that can give you that cooling sensation in the summer while adding some flavor to your meals. Try one, try all or if you need some more inspiration, a few other recipes lie below. :)

101 Cookbooks: Summer Zucchini Recipes: Just like her salsa linked above, Heidi Swanson elevates this summer star by mixing it into a Thai soup or lets it shine with pasta. Either way, she makes use of the summer's bounty and the ingredient itself (as part of the melon family) will do your body good too. 

Cucumber-Cantaloupe Salad: "Keep it in the family," they say. This salad, utilizing both melon and cucumber does just that and like the salsa above, provides the opportunity to use some cilantro as well (my favorite)... see Aromatherapy

Watermelon-Feta Salad: I saw a funny cartoon on Instagram a few days ago which featured trendy foods within the past few years. As watermelon-feta salad was all the rage back in 2013, I suppose the recipe above is a little passe but, featuring the biggest member of the melon family, this salad is sure to cool you in the heat of summer. 

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