Making Hay

South Park, CO

As summer burns its last here in the Rockies, sending temperatures pushing triple digits for the season’s final hurrah, I’m waxing nostalgic about newly discovered heat-beating recipes, all the while fanning myself furiously and wondering when it’s going to cool off. My answer is ambivalent: Not fast enough and too soon. I know as soon as summer fades, temps will plummet–quickly and too often shockingly–especially where I live in thin mountain air. I’m a month from watching aspen leaves drop and the hummingbirds abandon my feeders for southern climes. I’m also nostalgic for this summer’s heat-induced food discoveries. This weekend, I’m trotting out a few recipes in celebration of the passing season and also of Labor Day when I’ll be laboring with the city-dwelling boyfriend over my wood pile for winter (I’ll chain saw, he’ll split). 

Fresh Guacamole and Ceviche
First, we’ll have guacamole and chips and a lovely mango-scallop ceviche made with the most gorgeous fresh and fat sea scallops I get at Lucky’s Market.

But here I want to say a word about Guac:  Keep it simple. People tend to ruin the lovely flavor of avocado with too many additions:  Salsa, sour cream, flavor packs, you name it. You can make incredible guacamole with just lime, garlic, fresh cilantro, white onion and tomatoes. For the record, Greg makes an excellent guacamole; he’s the one that turned me onto the mild flavor of Mexican white onions.  Together we make good Guac. See recipe here.

Watermelon Soup
Chilled melon or berry soup is salvation whenever the outdoors emulate the inside of an oven. In my version, I simply pick the ripest (seed-free) melon I can find and blend it with a bit of lime zest, lime juice, agave, salt, and fresh mint to taste. Don’t over blend the ingredients or you’ll too easily liquefy the soup, and add the mint sparingly at first. I chill the soup in the freezer so it takes on a bit of texture (think slushy) and then sip spoonful after spoonful of the purest taste of summer. 
Pickled Onions
I got the pickle bug earlier this summer when I made Cochinita Pibil and I’ve been adding pickled onions to everything from soft shell tacos and coleslaw to bacon broccoli salad ever since.

This weekend, I’ll be making a southern version of pulled pork. Now I ask you:  Is there anything sexier than rubbed pork roasted until it’s meltingly tender and falling apart at the touch? It brings to mind other types of surrender….

Instead of coleslaw, I’m topping the pork with bright red pickled onions. They’re easy to make and they add a perky, tart flavor to the smokiness of the pork.

Ice Cream and Olive Oil
Nancy’s Ice Cream, Cherries, & Olive Oil
Photo:  Nancy Grosso

I have to give credit to my sister Nancy, a fabulous and enthusiastic cook, for this idea. She served it with cherries, but I find I like Colorado peaches mixed with agave. Either way, it’s win-win. Let some good vanilla ice cream (or iced coconut milk, but use something velvety) soften until creamy. Spoon into a bowl with your fruit of choice macerated with sugar, agave or honey. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with good EVO olive oil. Try it. Your mind will be blown. I guarantee it.

Greg and Karen
I know most people have headed out for one last summer hurrah this weekend.  Me?  I’m staying put, spending the somewhat shortened days submerged in the flavors of some of this summer’s favorites over glasses of Prosecco with the world’s nicest man. And while I know it’s true summer isn’t really going anywhere for just a bit, while there’s sun (and heat),  I plan to make a little hay. 
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