Summertime Rolls

We are at that point of July where the Fourth is a pleasant memory and the lazy, long, hot days of summer roll together. The other day, the 5:00 p.m. parking lot at Barracks Road had more parking spaces than cars in it – a tell tale sign of exactly how things slow down around here this time of year.

Without the structure of school, our days feel looser –alarms aren’t always set so mornings are quiet and casual. No rush.

No matter how hot and muggy the day is, there is an outdoor happy hour in the front yard practically every afternoon/evening, while a steady stream of teenagers/friends/neighbors and their dogs pop through to say hello. Dinner involves some version of corn/squash/eggplant/tomatoes with herbs from the garden that we linger over while we watch Betsy beagle lay in wait for lightning bugs as dusk sets in.

Bathing suits and towels hang on the line in hopes of drying between afternoon thunderstorms to be worn to the water again tomorrow. Walking the dog after dark, you can feel the heat of the day still rising off the pavement. There are always popscicles and Klondike bars in the freezer, melons, berries and peaches in the fridge. Summertime and the eating is good.

The lazy, hazy days of summer seem to stretch on endlessly, when in reality, they are fleeting at best, their time cut short by the responsibilities of work and school.

But we soak them in while we can, squeezing in as many picnics, barbecues, baseball games, berry picking, road tripping excursions as possible, swimming every day. The magic of summer may be fleeting, but thank goodness it comes around every year.

Mrs. Carroll’s Eggplant Casserole

One of the perks of going to college 1000 miles away from where your family lives is that friends would often take pity upon me on long weekends and invite me to come home with them. I found myself with a group of friends that had all gone to high school together, so I’d get invited home by one, only to find myself being transported around town all weekend to have dinner with another friend’s family and then brunch the next day with yet another. Southern hospitality at it’s finest y’all. Over the years I accumulated a number of recipes from these friends’ mothers, all of which are written down in my notebook as Mrs. blank’s _____________, like Mrs. Cape’s Pimento Cheese. 

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Quick Cherry Tomatoes and Pasta.

A gardening friend gave me two Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants that have had us swimming in the teeniest, tinest tomatoes this summer.  I’ve been harvesting a few pints of them weekly and in order to keep up with them, I had to get creative.  I was slightly inspired by a recipe my friend Martha used in her cooking class last month, but because these tomatoes are so tiny that cutting them would be a complete pain (and waste of time), I decided to just throw them in the pan whole.

(They also have a slightly annoying habit of splitting upon being picked.)

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Fun with peppers.

Thanks to the generosity of friends, my off-site garden is planted heavily in peppers.  I bought a few plants, but then found myself being handed oodles of pepper plants from friends and neighbors and one anonymous donor* that had run out of room in their gardens for all the pepper plants they had started/bought. I seriously have about 40 pepper plants (having bought 6) down there, most of which are heirloom chile peppers, but there are a few sweet ones too.

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