Saturday, August 20, 2011


I think there's something about summer that makes certain foods taste better. 
Now  we're nearing the end of another glorious summer, I have to ask, does watermelon taste quite so sweet and slurpy when it's eaten in the dead of winter? I don't think so!

Under most circumstances, green, unripe apples are too tart for the taste buds. But they remind me of summer childhood days spent with my friend, Debbie McCaw. We would ride her horse, Thanksgiving, to a field that had a couple of old apple trees growing on the banks of Clover Creek. We'd wade in the stream and climb the trees to pick a few of the green apples. Then we'd lie in the shade and daydream a little before heading home. On a carefree summer day, green apples tasted pretty good.

If you listed your top 10 favorite summer foods, what would they be? Here's mine:

1. Watermelon. What's a canyon picnic without a watermelon sitting in an icy stream to keep it chilled? And eating it by the half-slice while the sweet juice dribbles down your chin, not to mention numerous seed-spitting contests? When one of my sons played high school football, he and his friends would down a watermelon every night after summer practices. Who needs Gatorade?

2. Corn on the cob. Two of my early memories are of planting corn with my Grandpa Sagers in his field, and then later, rolling the ears in butter. It wreaks havoc with braces, and you probably won't win any Miss Manners points when you're eating it. But I could eat tender, just-picked ears of corn every day from July through September and NEVER get tired of it.

3. Tomatoes. Compared with the rich juicy summer tomatoes, those that you buy in the winter are more like tennis balls in texture and flavor. And those sweet little grape tomatoes can be eaten like candy. I like sun-drying tomatoes to enjoy all year, too.

4. Garden-fresh peas. They show up early in the season, a sign of good things to come. Lately I've fallen in love with sugar snap peas. You don't have to even bother with shelling.

5. Raspberries. I have raspberry bushes in my backyard, and I love to pick a handful or two in the morning.  Now my granddaughter Jayden loves picking and eating them, too. 

6. Cherries. It's a northern Utah tradition to making "fruit runs" to the roadside stands in Box Elder County or along U.S. 89 in Fruit Heights.  I love eating the plump cherries while watching the 4th of July fireworks.

7. Dutch oven cooking. I usually judge a few Dutch oven contests during the summer fair season, and I'll haul out my pots for a few family events. Yeah, standing over hot coals can be a sweltering experience, but cast iron seems to add richness of flavor to whatever you cook.

8. Basil. These bright green leaves add fragrance in both the garden and the kitchen. Fresh basil perks up pasta, soups and pizza, and who can resist just-made pesto?
Chism Nash, winner of this year's Burger Bash!

9. Grilled burgers. There's something about charcoal and the outdoors that makes them taste sooooo good in the summer, especially when you're having a cook-out with friends and family. My nieces, Chelsea and Carrie Nash, traditionally have a Build A Better Burger Bash to celebrate their birthdays around the end of July. It's always fun to see what eveyone creates. 

10. Peaches. For many summers, my kids and I would pick a laundry basket full of peaches from our backyard tree. Then I'd turn them into smoothies and fruit leather, vastly superior to the corn-syrup based "fruit" roll-ups from the store.  We also liked picking apricots from my sister's tree for the same reasons. So good!

My runners-up: Potato salad, root beer floats, cucumber limeade and snow cones.

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