Here we are at the last true month of summer. What summer adventures have you had so far? What new things have you experienced? Learned?
Blow off that to-do list full of trivial chores, those can wait. August of 2021, as stressful as it might sometimes feel, will never be back. Fill it with more moments of fun and meaning, juicy peaches, plums, and melons, picnics, free concerts on a lawn. A drive to take a walk under the full moon, (August 22), or a spectacular sunset. Lay on the grass looking up at the stars with a small child, sharing in their wonder. Shake it up, quit doing the same things over and over. Connect, explore, experience. This is your life, live it!
The farmers market in August is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, beans, peaches, plums, and melons. Get inspired and experience all these wonderful flavors. Break out the grill on these hot days and experiment with easy, healthy recipes using the peak of the harvest. Check out foodandwine.com for a wide assortment of seasonal recipes, or go to the library and check out some recipe books. It’s time for salads, smoothies, cold soups, and grilling.
Speaking of books, The Herbalist’s Happy Hour – Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is the perfect book for late summer days. A great reference for cooking up easy, fresh, delicious drinks, cocktails, and appetizers for entertaining and enjoying. You want this book. You need this book. Get it here.
Fun Things to Do!
Summer concerts in the park, a lot of them free, will be ending soon. Put a picnic together or do takeout and go listen to some music on these warm summer nights.
Douglas County Fair – July 31 to August 8, https://www.
Loveland Sculpture in the Park, August 7 and 8, https://www.
Mountain Arts Festival, Woodland Park, August 7 and 8 http://www.
Western Welcome Week, Littleton, August 13 – 22, https://www.
Telluride Jazz Festival, August 13 – 15, https://www.
Estes Park Wine Festival, August 14 and 15, https://
Colorado State Fair, Pueblo, August 27 – September 6, https://coloradostatefair.
For more events check out: https://www.colorado.aaa.
Pandemic fatigue indeed. Just when we thought we might be finally be getting through this, there is talk of the 4th wave, new CDC restrictions, more divisiveness, misinformation, and general burnout.
Would be lovely if we could all get on the same page, pull together, and support each other in getting through this, but at the moment that doesn’t seem likely. Not sure what it will take, how many deaths, burned-out hospital workers, and long-term health effects.
For now, take good care of yourselves. Get plenty of fruits and veggies from the abundance of the summer harvest, watch your stress levels, get some sound sleep, and move your body. Getting out in nature has been scientifically proven to lift our spirits and our immune systems. Read a good book. I like Circe by Madeline Miller for some good escapist fare. Put that phone down and give yourself some time in the real world.
For more on this: https://www.health.
and an interesting ted talk on stress management. https://www.ted.
Time to start harvesting those herbs for your winter pantry. Harvest plants in the cooler parts of the day, early morning or evening. Most aerial parts can be clipped and bound with a rubber band. Once inside wash by submerging in a large bowl of cold water, dry on towels, or use a salad spinner, label by writing the name of the herb on a small piece of paper and tucking it inside the rubber band, and hang upside down to dry. When dry, store in glass jars, mason jars work well for this and label with the herb and the date. I usually just do summer of 2021 and keep adding to the jar as I harvest.
Store in a cool dark place and you can enjoy your flavor enhancements all winter long. Let’s not forget the benefits of all the phytonutrients and antioxidants.
For herbs like basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro, I find freezing to be the best option as they don’t dry well. Grind them up into a thick paste with some olive oil in your blender or food processer, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and evenly space tablespoon mounds of the herb paste on the baking sheet. Freeze for a few hours, peel off, and store in a container.
You now have dollops of herb flavor whenever you need it. You can also use a dehydrator at the lowest setting.
Tomatoes were not widely eaten in the US until the late 1800s. Belonging to the nightshade family they were considered poisonous. Today we know that tomatoes contain Vitamin C, A, iron, and potassium along with lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps in preventing cancer. You will absorb more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than raw.
Farm fresh tomatoes will soon be nothing more than a memory. Before that sweet juicy flavor retreats for another year make the most of it with recipes sure to complement those end-of-summer meals. To really bring out that tomato flavor in sauces and soups add a bit of honey, agave, or sugar. An Italian grandma told me that and it's true. Once we’re back to store-bought, try cherry tomato varieties which give more of that fresh tomato taste in the offseason.
"Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air."
Ralph Waldo Emerson