Ahhhhhh, summer. You might think that this would be the prime time to be a food blogger. The weather is gorgeous, the produce is bountiful, minds turn to parties, pies, and food on the grill. But the truth is, food blogging REALLY dries up in the summer. Between vacations, wrangling the kids all week, and the general call of the outdoors, a lot of people step away from reading about food and cooking. But there really is a lot of amazing food to be had right now, often based around all that fresh and perfect produce. But there’s yet another big hurdle to cooking (and writing about cooking) in the summer, and that’s the heat. A pot of soup bubbling away on the stove on a chilly November day sounds like heaven. That same soup in the heart of July sounds like a desperate mistake. So we spend less and less time looking for new recipe ideas, primarily because they all make us say “Ughhh but it’s so hot… I don’t want to turn on the stove.”
So for those of you who haven’t abandoned foodie endeavours and succumbed to the siren-song of the outdoors just yet, I present what is simultaneously my love-note to the season and my attempt to get some food out there that does NOT make you want to buy an air conditioner expressly for the kitchen. For the next two months – smack in the heart of summer – we’re going to be talking about all the wonderful food, drinks, and desserts that you can make either without heat, with very minimal cooking, or outdoors on the grill. I’m hear to spare your stove.
One other important thing to note – I’m stretching this theme out over the next two months, instead of over just the one. I’ve found over the last few themes that I just have too many recipes and too many ideas to pack into a single month, so we’re going to give themes a bit of a longer treatment for a while. I hope that sits well with you all (assuming you’re still reading this that is – if you’re outside drinking an iced tea and watching the grass grow, I understand). If you’re still with me, I’m happy to say that now that I’ve been at this for a bit, I actually have some recipes all ready to go that fit this theme nicely. These recipes are all either made with no cooking, or outdoor grilling alone.
Seasonal Greens with Rhubarb-Dijon Vinaigrette
To be fair, the greens in this original salad (mizuna and miner’s lettuce) are probably out of season, but the amazing seasonal greens keep popping up all summer long, and the dressing is amazing. Five minutes of gentle simmering to get the rhubarb juice, and you’re ready to go with an easy, healthy, memorable salad.
Mandelo Zaru Soba
You need to boil water just long enough to cook buckwheat noodles, but once you’ve gotten that out of the way, you’re rewarded with an easy Japanese meal, served cold, that epitomizes refreshing summer eating. Mandelos are probably hard to find right now, but you can get creative with any citrus available.
Bacon-wrapped Shimeji Mushroom Kushiyaki
It get’s HOT in Japan in the summer, and there are plenty of foods designed to be both made and enjoyed outside of the heat of the kitchen. Japan’s got an amazing grilling tradition that I’ll probably return to at some point this summer, but in the meantime, spoil yourself with these. The best part is the homemade tare sauce – admittedly, it needs to spend a bit of time on the stove, but you can make it ahead of time (preferably on a rainy day) and store it for quite a while.
Beef Tataki and Scratch Ponzu
The ponzu itself is so good, and so worthwhile that you should make it even if you don’t eat beef. Trust me, it goes with a million things. A couple of minutes of hot water, and steak seared ultra-fast either indoors or out, and you’ve covered the extent of the cooking necessary here.
Chinese Cold Garlic Cucumbers
Aka liangban huanggua, aka the greatest cucumber dish known to man. Bold? Yes. But so are the cucumbers. Seriously, if more people knew how good and how incredibly easy this was, there’d be a lot more people rethinking their notions of Chinese food. I guarantee this will disappear in no time.
Mango & Tomato Salad with Mint Chimichurri
This mint chimichurri was originally developed for a lamb dish, but it turned out to be so good as a sort of dressing on tomatoes and mango that I may never look back. Tangy, earthy, sweet and sour all at once. It makes a great salsa too, if you’re so inclined.
And one last thing…
I’m also very happy to say that July 1st marked Diversivore’s 6 month birthday! Half a year! WOOHOO! thanks to everybody who’s joined along with me so far – your support and input have meant a lot to me. Here’s looking forward to the next 6!