Savory and Summery
These past few weeks, I’ve felt suspended in limbo. In a lot of ways, this summer feels like my last. The last summer I can get away without having a steady job. The last summer where my high school friends are all in town and trying to keep us together. The last summer I’ll see the world the way I do right now. I keep having to remind myself that I’m a high school graduate, and that everything is about to change in September.
I don’t feel like a college freshman, the way I still don’t feel like a legal adult. Once in a while, when I hear from a friend or spot the square graduation cap in my closet, I’m stifled with hesitation. There are moments where I don’t think I’ll survive if I’m tossed into the depths of the unknown. But sooner or later, I walk past someone with a Red Sox tee or tell someone about my expected major – and then I’m overwhelmed with a desire to pack up and move to Boston already.
The morning after I graduated, I thought to myself, “This is it. This summer is like the eye of a hurricane.” A month in, though, I’m seeing it a little differently. The next two months aren’t the calm before an unstoppable storm… they’re a window of opportunity. The opportunity to relax while shouldering a bit of responsibility, and to enjoy every second of this limbo.
So what have I been doing with my last days in Washington? Even though Seattle is currently going through a miniature heat wave, I’ve been spending most of my hours in the kitchen.
It started about a week ago. My dad and I were at the dinner table, talking about college and 17 and Baking. Up until then, I’d felt unconcernedly confident about maintaining the blog through the school year. After all, it simply had to work out. How hard could it be to keep up the blogging?
But little by little, tiny cracks chipped away at my optimism. I came to the unpleasant conclusion that I can’t bring the KitchenAid mixer with me. It’s so heavy, how we would transport it across the country? And where would I keep it – my dorm? Would I carry it down the streets of Boston in search of a kitchen? I reluctantly admitted there were flaws in my idealism, all the way down to the simple issue of where I’d store flour and eggs. Would I even have time?
So I’ve begun baking like crazy to stock up on photos. While I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to keep blogging through the blustery chills of October and the January freeze, it contradicts my general philosophy of only using seasonal items. In the past week, my searches for wintery produce and dabbles with autumn spices have only reinforced my appreciation for seasonal ingredients.
It’s July, and it’s also a window of opportunity for the fruits and vegetables I’ve waited for all winter. I’ve missed the satisfaction of a real tomato, heavy with juice and sweeter than sugar. It’s been too long since I last eased a knife through the streaked hull of a watermelon. I’ve been craving the fuzzy blush of a peach and the first seed-studded bite into a strawberry ever since January. They just aren’t good in April – some things are worth waiting for.
Gosh, I’m hungry again.
And with the ingredients come the dishes I’ve been lusting after. Spontaneous fruits-of-the-moment fruit salads, cold cucumber soup, sparkling herb lemonade! Even water tastes better when you’re drinking it between forkfuls of grilled salmon with grape and melon chutney.
I know I’m not the only foodie in town excited by summer produce. My parents have both been waiting, and it’s finally the time of year for my dad’s zesty blueberry corn salad with lime, and my mom’s avocado and sundried tomato eggrolls with chili dipping sauce. There’s only a short window of time when we can indulge ourselves in these savory summer dishes, and we’re taking full advantage of it.
I love my mother’s eggrolls. She first came up with them last summer, and when avocado season rolled around this year we began eating batch after batch. She starts with a gorgeously ripe avocado – as creamy and thick as butter, the kind of green that sends happy flutters in your stomach. Add sun dried tomatoes, fresh cilantro and sharp red onion, and you’ve hit upon something special – smooth, crispy, chewy, and indulgent.
My dad loves the combination of fresh blueberries and gently cooked corn. The corn is still a little warm, still has a little pop to it. The blueberries are cool and sweet. Spritzed with lime, they become like dark pearls, stunning against the light yellow kernels and flecks of zest. There’s only a small period of time when blueberry season and corn season cross, so now’s the time to make this refreshing salad… over and over again.
In the coming weeks, as summer draws to an end, I might get sick of flaky eggroll skin or juicy corn. Before long, I’ll be longing for pumpkin puree and for the give of a ripe pear, the way it smells like crisp leaves and November rain. But everything is worth the wait. And for now, I’ll enjoy the summer’s bounty as long as it blooms, ripens, and warms in the July heat.
Blueberry Corn Salad with Lime
A 17 and Baking Original
Makes 4 cups of salad
2 ears of sweet, ripe corn
2 cups fresh blueberries
A teaspoon of salt
1/2 lime, juiced and zested
Put the corn in a pot of cool water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the corn is lightly cooked – you don’t want it to be raw, but you still want it to have some crisp. Cool the corn until you can cut the kernels off the cob (should yield about 2 cups corn.) While the corn is still a little warm, toss with the salt and the lime. Add the blueberries and toss gently. Add more salt or lime to taste. Eat the salad at room temperature, or slightly chilled.
This salad doesn’t keep well overnight (perhaps it’s the blueberry and the acidic citrus together.) If you want to make this salad ahead of time, simply leave out the blueberries until serving time.
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Avocado and Sundried Tomato Eggrolls with Chili Dipping Sauce
A 17 and Baking Original
Makes six eggrolls
2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Package of eggroll wrappers
One egg, beaten
Oil for frying
Chili Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons spicy sweet chili sauce (like Sriracha. Adjust to taste.)
To prepare the chili dipping sauce, combine the mayonnaise and the chili sauce in a small bowl. Make sure to taste it and add more mayonnaise or chili sauce depending on how much spice you like. The sauce needs to rest for 15 minutes, so you can make the eggrolls in the meantime.
Mash the avocado in a medium bowl. Mix in the red onion, cilantro, sundried tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Spread a little onto an eggroll wrapper and roll up, closing the two ends and using a little bit of egg to help seal it. Deep fry in a saucepan of sizzling oil over medium heat until the eggrolls are blistered and golden brown. Serve with the chili dipping sauce.
Printer Friendly Version – Avocado and Sundried Tomato Eggrolls with Chili Dipping Sauce