The final days of summer are approaching. Now is the time for those end of summer recipes you’ve been wanting to make. While not my favorite season (blasphemy!), I do love fresh berries for breakfast. Both shelling and snap beans are always a treat. Perhaps best of all, you can’t go wrong with fresh tomatoes on just about anything. Oh, and how could I forget corn? With Labor Day weekend, it’s a short week but one less weeknight meal doesn’t seem to make it any easier. A busy time of year, but I’m still compelled to enjoy the delicious foods and flavors unique to the end of summer.
We hung around home this weekend. Mostly, we were working on kitchenlister (yeah, we’re fun like that). We were also frantically planning our too-soon-for-how-little-we-have-booked trip to Spain at the end of the month. Aww, it is September, isn’t it?! Even so, there were plus sides to the weekend:
- We try to treat ourselves in little ways on weekend “work” days. I give you the following:
We were around on Sunday to go to the farmers market. I was happy to discover both blackberries and raspberries are still available.
We spent the Monday holiday with friends while munching on yeasted buckwheat waffles.
While having nothing to do with Tuesday per se, these activities led to this simple breakfast (the donut and cupcake were gone too quickly to contribute):
Waffles are always worth the effort to make from scratch. That said, waking up to “instant” homemade waffles is deeply satisfying. Bonus: I made so much batter, I had extra in the fridge. That means it’s a three-waffle week! See Thursday.
Despite having made these waffles many times, I had a bit of a fiasco at midnight on Sunday… a story for another post. Just goes to show you that mistakes will always happen in the kitchen. Experience gives you the knowledge to deal with them.
My husband could eat waffles every single day—this is his yearly birthday dinner. So he took (surprise, surprise) more waffles for lunch. I used some of the bread we bought on Sunday to make an open-faced tomato sandwich.
For dinner, I made stuffed poblano peppers (loosely following this recipe I found bookmarked in my kitchenlister account). For this special end of summer meal, I decided last-minute to go all out with homemade pinto beans and corn tortillas. In truth, beans cooked from scratch are simple and delicious. I plan to devote a whole post to them soon. Beans are closely followed by corn tortillas in their simplicity. Unlike cooking beans, tortillas do take a little practice. Still, once you have the hang of it (and a tortilla press), it’s simple with only two ingredients. There is nothing quite like fresh corn tortillas still warm from the pan.
Since my husband missed out on tomato sandwiches the day prior, I made them again for breakfast. I used up the last of the bread and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.
In the morning, I found out we would get King salmon again in our CSF. Can’t complain about fresh fish caught only a day ago, but I wanted to try something different. Plus I still had fresh linguine to use from my CSA box. Having never combined fresh fish with pasta before, I wanted a recipe to use as a template. I quickly found a salmon pasta recipe in my kitchenlister account. (Try this summer recipe if you haven’t had your fill of salmon yet. Wild salmon season ends by October.) My variation added more vegetables and substituted carrot greens for the arugula. It would have been good with capers (or black olives) as the recipe suggested, but I’m out… next time.
Waffle week continues! This time the waffles were cooked fresh, but the batter was from the fridge. More fresh berries are a given.*
Sometimes dinner on Thursdays can get late. I pick up my CSA box and then arrange, photograph, and put all the produce away. By the time I finish, I realize how hungry I am. Tonight was a good example of that, exacerbated by my plan of making polenta for dinner. Easy? Check. Fast? Definitely not.
These are the situations where it’s too easy to give up on cooking. It just feels like everything takes too long. And it’s all too hard. Through experience, I know this isn’t true. The key is to take the first step and just start cooking something. Easier said than done. But nibble on every little ingredient you’re using and it will take the edge off your hunger. Of course, you won’t get full. That’s not the point—you’re still making dinner after all. Yet, by snacking while you’re cooking, you’ll be able to wait until dinner is ready. When you do sit down to eat, you’ll feel particularly proud that you persevered. These are the nights when dinner truly feels like a success. All because you know how close you were to making nothing at all.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t change your plans if they no longer work. Despite eating leftover salmon pasta for lunch, I was hungry. Scanning my produce, I decided kale chips would make a quick enough snack. I threw in carrot greens just to use them up. By starting this snack first, I’d have something to eat sooner, and then work on dinner.
I still roasted the veggies I needed to use from the previous week—I could speed up the cooking time by spending a little longer cutting them into smaller pieces. Instead of polenta, I changed to quinoa for a quick-cooking grain (technically a seed). Quinoa had the added bonus of providing a complete protein in this vegetable-heavy meal.
Leftover cooked beans and homemade corn tortillas always lead to huevos rancheros for breakfast. Now I do not at all claim to make an authentic version. Mine varies, but usually includes beans and cheese, plus tomatoes or salsa. The only given is tortillas and eggs. Here is today’s version:
For lunch I did something I thought I might regret. With not enough of any single dinner left to make a meal, I combined the salmon pasta and pinto beans. I hesitated for a moment beforehand, then did it anyway. The result? It was good! This doesn’t always work, but it often does. When you cook seasonally, most of the ingredients in your dishes will go together. Regardless, this strategy is always worth considering, and you might discover a favorite combination.
A new night and an old dinner plan: polenta and roasted summer vegetables, preceded by green salad. Though the meal takes some time, it’s easy. That is, if you make polenta the lazy way. I do not get into the zen of stirring things in pots for 30 minutes. Prepping assorted ingredients, building layers of flavor, and pondering over recipes. These are all part of the creativity of cooking. For me, this does not extend to standing over the stove doing nothing but stirring.
Hence, oven-baked polenta is the way to go. It’s easy, tastes great, and the leftovers work well for pan-frying. One caveat here: I do not have a particular love of smushy food. If you want mashed potato texture, this is not your method. Polenta is ideal for winter cooking, but I love the flavor with a variety of summer vegetables. It’s an end of summer recipe only because temperatures are finally cool enough to make it.
And to end the week: popsic… I mean ice pops! (…definitely NOT flavored and colored water.)
Not because it’s particularly warm. It isn’t. Just because I pureed half a watermelon with a bit of salt and water for breakfast. Why not save the rest for a frozen treat?
*Despite the plethora of fresh berries you see featured in this and previous posts, I do manage to freeze a few. (Yeah, now you have some idea of the extravagant quantity of fresh berries I buy each week at the farmers market.) In the dead of winter, there’s nothing like pulling frozen raspberries out of the freezer—perhaps to make this easy dessert.
WANT TO START FINDING QUICK AND EASY RECIPES YOU HAVE EVERYTHING TO MAKE? START A FREE ACCOUNT WITH KITCHENLISTER.
If you’d like more information about any of these end of summer meals, leave me a comment.
Read more about my “Week in Review” posts.