Must eats for the summer

Ice Cream SundaeSummertime, and the living is easy….and the food is yummy.  I’ve been thinking about all the great summertime treats to be enjoyed, but for the most part I’ve only been enjoying one of them: ice cream.  Seems like we’ve been going out for ice cream several times a week and it’s hard to say no when your family members are enjoying soft-serve in a waffle cone or Cake Batter with rainbow sprinkles from one of the local ice cream shops.

So, while ice cream treats figure prominently, there are some other seasonal specialties on my list of Foods I Must Eat at Least Once Each Summer:

1. Ice Cream Sundae
Once (oh, okay maybe twice a few times) each summer I indulge with an ice cream sundae.  My favorite is the hot fudge sundae at the Ice House restaurant in Rye, NH.  They have the best hot fudge sauce.  I get it with peppermint ice cream, whipped cream and nuts.

2. Lobster Roll
Lobster rolls are a New England thing.  Fresh lobster meat, lightly dressed with mayonnaise or melted butter, loaded into a buttered and toasted hot dog roll.  And it can’t be just any hot dog roll, it has to be the kind that splits on the top.   I’m a purist, I don’t like any celery mixed in.  And please do NOT serve it to me on a hamburger bun! That’s not a lobster roll; that’s a lobster bun.

3. Corn on the Cob
Nothing says summer more than corn on the cob.  Part of the fun is shucking the corn (which is also fun to say; shucking the corn, shucking the corn, shucking the corn) and serving with the little corn-cob shaped corn holders that you press into the sides for easy eating.  I like the super sweet butter-and-sugar corn that has the yellow and white kernels.  Serve with….

4. Grilled Steak
I don’t eat much red meat, but I do love a good steak from time to time.  My father-in-law makes a great grilled steak.  He shared his secret recipe with me.  Not sure I should share it here on this blog….oh okay, I’ll share.  Rub with a little olive oil, massage some crushed garlic into it and let that sit for 1/2 hour.  Then sprinkle with a little Montreal Steak Seasoning, and grill over a VERY HOT grill.   He likes rare but I like a little less blood so I cook until medium-rare to medium, which only takes a few minutes per side   Let stand for a few minutes before slicing.   This with corn-on-the-cob is a great summer meal.

5. Anything from the Farmer’s Market
I used to go to our local Farmer’s market almost every week during the summer, when my daughter was younger and up early in the morning.  There is a little playground across the street so it was always a fun-filled outing. We don’t go as often these days but I make it a point to go a few times each summer for locally-grown farm-fresh veggies in season.  I don’t have a green thumb so this way I get a taste of home-grown tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, onions….whatever is on display that day.

6. Caprese Salad
Peak-season tomatoes and basil (preferably from the farmer’s market, see above), layered on a plate with fresh mozzarella, drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and a few drips of balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper.   So simple, so GOOD. I could eat this every day in August and September.

7. Frappe
Did I mention ice cream? Yeah I think I did.  Once a season I’ll go for a frappe.  When I first moved to New Hampshire, I had never heard of a frappe.  Then I tried one and said, oh, it’s a milkshake.  But if you order a milkshake around here, you’ll just get something that resembles chocolate milk.  So you definitely want to order the frappe!  I craved them a lot when I was pregnant – must have needed the calcium.

8. Anything eaten or imbibed on a deck
Downtown Portsmouth, NH in the summer.  Pick a deck, any deck.  Order a beer, glass of wine, margarita, or a Bloody Mary.  Order munchies.  Sit back.  Relax.  Watch the boats sail by.  Forget your to-do list.

9. Homemade Pesto
Most summers I will attempt to grow something, even though I am intimidated by gardening.  I find it overwhelming.  I blame the fact that my formative years were spent in a NYC apartment, devoid of a yard or grass or dirt for digging.  So I find myself planting things in containers.  Usually I’ll do a container of basil, maybe another one with some other herbs like rosemary, and perhaps some flowers.  But this year I only did the flowers, so no basil for me. When I do grow basil, I will whip up a few batches of homemade pesto. Either walnuts or pine nuts, whizzed up in the food processor with the basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Toss with pasta and dinner’s done.  Even my daughter has been requesting pesto more these days.  So I’ll have hit that farmer’s market for some basil this year.

10. Freshly picked blueberries
There are many pick-your-own-blueberry farms in our area, so we make it a summer tradition to go blueberry picking.  We usually go to Blueberry Bay Farm near Great Bay, as we know the family who owns it and they have plenty of berries and other produce for picking.  Stop at the stand for some blueberry lemonade to quench your thirst after an afternoon of picking!  You can never pick too many as they freeze well and then you can use them throughout the year for muffins, pancakes and coffee cake.  One of these days I might even attempt to bake a pie.

Well that’s my list.  Hungry yet? I am! What are your summer must-eats?