Today I got really excited about the summer, or more specifically summer food. The recent good weather has already led to my first BBQ of the year and some lovely picnics in a variety of outside spots.
As I write this, the sunshine is streaming through my windows and you really start to feel that the earth is singing. However one vital ingredient has been missing (no not rain!) the actual summer ingredients.
Lets face it, summer and spring really is the most exciting time for food. Everything is coming to life and your choice of seasonal ingredients rockets. A recent attempt at growing my own (just herbs and chilli’s- nothing too extravagant) has added to this excitement. The satisfaction of putting something you’ve grown into your food is amazing, but to be honest just watching it grow from a seed has been pretty rewarding.
So back to this morning. My excitement for this fresh season didn’t come from the good weather (although I’m sure that helped) it came from my introduction to Elizabeth David’s ‘Summer Cooking’.
The book is a very recent addition to my ‘From Scratch” arsenal. The introduction (written in 1955) champions seasonal food and cooking in general but particularly in the summer. You really get the sense of newness and the excitement of a fresh start as she argues for the joy of rediscovering different food and dishes at different times of the year. I can imagine cooking on post war rations in England wasn’t a particularly colourful business but Elizabeth David brings to life these wonderful ingredients.
She talks about eating fresh peas. Now I have so far gone without peas, as frozen is not really kosher. But it dawned on me; I don’t think I have ever eaten a fresh garden pea! Nowadays I’m sure 99% of people eat frozen peas and the popular line is they are better than fresh. I’m sure given the option between them and fresh peas that have been flown across the world to arrive in a supermarket, frozen is always the better option. But I wonder if you got the direct from the ground and ate them surely those peas would taste better?
Whatever the reality this has made me feel closer to what ‘From Scratch’ is really about. Having great ingredients, trying new things, not worrying about time and pushing the boundaries. Thus I walked of the train with a renewed spring in my step and a new hope for food.
And really let’s face it summer has already started we can all already begin to gorge on great fruit and vegetables (the possibilities of different salads are endless and don’t even get me started on ice cream) its just so exciting.
This is more a blog of intent rather than practice as I’m yet to cook anything summery. However I have just bought some fresh peas and started shelling them and with every snap a memory of green pea pod a childhood memory comes back (so I must have had them at some point). This food brings back long forgotten memories of endless summer meals and reminds you that food is such an integral and fantastic part of life. Which has inspired me to go out and do more summer cooking – Strawberry Jam here we come!
Oddly I keep on wanting to use the words ‘natures bounty’ (I think I might be turning into Valentine Warner :))
Nonetheless I’m almost half way through and with exciting ingredients springing up everyday I’m feeling a fresh new energy for the project. I cant wait to attempt some new recipes, try again with the dreaded Chocolate and just eat great food everyday. I think I need to go beyond the supermarket much more. Bringing the challenging or finding delicious locally produced food.
I wonder if there is a pick your own nearby?