Updated: Jan 29
Longer days, thanks to the summer solstice, haven't exactly meant logging in extra hours of sleep in this household. What it has allowed, however, is a preconceived notion that because the days are staying lighter much longer, that the hours we stay awake, too, should be much longer. As a result, more time is being spent in the kitchen, allowing more sweet treats to make their way into our 'before bedtime' rituals.
I suppose that when my children look back one day, the memories of long summer days will bring back memories of gathering around the table together as a family. Indulging in a little late night delicacy will provide me with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that we took advantage of spending the extra time together. What it also means, is that we need to amp up the activity level in this household. Daily bike rides and walks have dwindled, as the air has become much hotter and more humid. It is time to plan for excursions with exercise in mind!
One activity we enjoy as a family is venturing out to the local farmers' market to select our fresh produce. You never really know what you will find, which makes for interesting (and impromptu) culinary planning. Annually, we go strawberry picking and 'can' jam to gift to friends and neighbors. This year we have yet to go as the restrictions have limited us. Since time is passing, perhaps we'll pick blueberries instead. I quite like the idea of making blueberry jam!
This week the market had the most magnificent ripe-looking apricots. It was then decided that we would fill our basket with apricots, only to figure out later what we might do with them. The cherries were also divine looking and available in both a deep violet hue as well as a hybrid of red and yellow. We grabbed bags of both. A variety of lettuces and herbs made way into our canvas totes, as well as tomatoes on a vine and a jar of pickled peppers. Another activity I'd like to try this summer is pickling peppers and would love tips if anyone has them.
Upon arriving home, it is the children's duty to hand-wash and put away all of the produce. Fresh fruits are typically displayed on ceramic or milk glass pieces on the countertops in an effort not only to please the eye but as an attempt to select the fresh fruit first, before grabbing the dreaded alternative - a salty snack bag. (Pictured above is our 'oval dish' from the 'Bunny' ceramics collection, our second collaboration with FIMA Deruta. The previous photo is a pitcher by Mosser Glass and it is available in our online shop).
Initially, we had a cherry clafoutis in mind when selecting the cherry bags. We later determined that the cherries would be reserved for a tomato gazpacho, along with the leftover organic berries in the fridge, and that we would make an apricot clafoutis for dessert with the beautifully selected orange fruit.
Two other tasks we like to give the children are both cutting the product and measuring the ingredients. *When the girls were young, they would wear a protective glove when cutting, and I would recommend this for any child without experience with sharp knives. (EVRIDWear Kids makes an affordable kid-sized glove for protecting the hands and they can be easily purchased on Amazon). Because my husband is French, much of his recipes are measured in grams. It is good math practice for the children when they are forced to convert measurements. Another way we measure the ingredients in grams is with a scale.
The bonus when making a clafoutis is that it not only makes the very best summer dessert, but it equally serves as a scrumptious leftover breakfast the next morning. I suppose that would only make sense, as we have been known to use leftover pancake batter to produce the very same 'custardy' base often used in order to make a clafoutis. For the full clafoutis recipe, scroll to the bottom of this page.
While the clafoutis baked in the oven, it was time to mix the medley of vegetables for the gazpacho. The children had already washed and sliced the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and fresh jalapeños. As previously mentioned, we decided to add the freshly selected cherries from the farmers' market and the organic strawberries that had been reserved in the fridge to the gazpacho blend. The vegetables and fruits were then tossed with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and sherry vinegar.
After seasoning all of the vegetables, it was time to purée them in the Vitamix. Generous helpings of extra virgin olive oil were added throughout the process. We reserved a handful of whole cherries, strawberries, pepper, jalapeño, and onion for the garnish. *For the full recipe on how to prepare our version of a summer cherry gazpacho, scroll to the bottom of the page.