Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It’s that peak harvest time of the year that so many of us look forward to but is over before you can blink – enjoy it while you can. The farmers market is going full tilt every Saturday morning (get there by 9), the corn is just getting good and the field-ripened tomatoes are the real thing. It’s glut time.
My favorite is sweet corn cooked in the husk in the microwave – three minutes if you have a strong oven, four if it’s weak. You can easily shuck the corn under cold running water and butter up.
Pesto takes about five minutes to make. Pour about a half a cup of olive oil into the blender, add a large clove or two of garlic cut into pieces, half a teaspoon of salt and a half cup of pine nuts. Blend until smooth, then start feeding about two cups of basil leaves into the hopper, adding more oil if it gets too stiff. Finish off with half a cup of parmesan cheese and presto, pesto!
For a summer salad and vegetable dish in one, cut cooked corn from the cob, add quartered sugar snap peas (boil for two minutes, plunge into cold water), toss with a little lettuce and sesame seed dressing from the Westwood Farm booth at the market.
This is a perfect time for gazpacho, with all the ingredients grown locally except the celery. Blend a large clove of garlic, a peeled cucumber, a green pepper, an onion, salt to taste, three tablespoons of cider vinegar, half a cup of olive oil and a few stalks of celery with a couple of peeled tomatoes or a cup of tomato juice (spicy kind is best).
Next, blend eight to 10 peeled tomatoes, a little at a time, just enough so they’re chunky, and stir them into the first mixture. If you like it hot, add jalapenos or other hot peppers. Gazpacho is excellent with avocado pieces floating in the bowl.
Melody Durham taught me to freeze peaches the easy way. Cut them in half, dip them in orange juice and pop them into freezer bags. Melody uses hers for smoothies during the winter so leaves the peels on, but you can drop the peaches in boiling water and peel them for pie-making.
My friend Hilary makes a good peach crisp. She puts peach slices in a buttered baking dish, shakes a half a cup of white cake mix over them, pours a quarter cup of milk and melted butter on top and bakes them at 350 – quick and easy.
Baked tomatoes are a summer delicacy. Drop in boiling water for 30 seconds and skin however many tomatoes will, when cut in half sideways, fit snugly into a greased baking dish or iron skillet. Place them cut side up and sprinkle them with pepper and a pinch of sugar.
Grate about a cup of fresh bread crumbs (hamburger buns work well) or use Italian bread crumbs. Mix crumbs with an equal amount of parmesan or Romano cheese and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tomatoes. These amounts are for five tomatoes or 10 halves, more or less.
Using a garlic press, press one or two cloves of garlic into half a cup of olive oil, stir them together and spoon the oil over the tomatoes. Then here’s the kicker, bake them, uncovered, at 400 degrees for an hour. That is not a typo. Anything less and they will be a watery mess. Serve them hot, warm or cold. However many you bake, it will not be enough.
As a dressing for the succulent melons at the market, try this very peculiar recipe. Blend until smooth a half cup of sugar, one teaspoon dry mustard, one teaspoon salt, one-third cup of vinegar (white or rice) and a quarter of a medium sized onion. Slowly blend in a cup of olive oil, then stir in (don’t use the blender for this step) two tablespoons of poppy seeds. Use recently bought poppy seeds unless you keep your spices in the freezer where they belong. Spoon over melon cubes, any berries and/or bananas and defy your guests to identify the ingredients in the dressing.
Good health. Happy summer. Leaves will be turning tomorrow.
Su Lum is a longtime local who probably left some steps and ingredients out. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at email@example.com.
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