Summer Food: Blueberries, Texas Caviar, TomatoesFor many listeners, summer food is epitomized by fruits of the vine, tree, bush and stalk. They share stories about grandmothers and "blueberry slump," gardens and "Texas caviar," and a bittersweet tale of tomatoes, champagne and a light bulb.
For many of us, summer — with all those weddings, reunions, barbecues and picnics — is intimately connected to food.
We have asked listeners to tell us about their favorite summer foods — and we've heard a lot about fruits of the vine, tree, bush and stalk.
Corn on the cob is a hands-up favorite. Technically it's not a fruit, but it's just as sweet, according to some.
Rosella Ewing of Buffalo, N.Y., says the water was already boiling in her grandparents' kitchen before the corn had been picked. During those summers in Baton Rouge, La., eating corn — slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt — was the only thing that kept her family quiet at dinnertime.
When Dan Manson was a kid, husking corn was the one chore he would do without complaint. Mason, of Williamsport, Pa., says, "I was the best husker and silker in the family ... partly because I cared — mostly because I was going to eat most of the corn."
And then there are blueberries.
Meg Watjen of Tempe, Ariz., sent us a recipe for "blueberry slump." It includes lemon juice, sugar, nutmeg and milk.
Watjen also told us how she used to pick blueberries back home near Rochester, Mass.
"My grandmother and mother would get us into our bathing suits, and we'd wade into the clear, cool waters of Snow's Pond, walking along the edges looking for blueberries, with coffee cans tied around our necks," Watjen recalls.
"About half of the blueberries we picked made it into the can, the other half we ate, blue fingers and tongues the proof of our work," she says.
And then there's something called "Texas caviar."
This dish comes to us from Juanita Weisbrich: It's a side dish including peppers, onion and black-eyed peas, things from her garden.
Weisbrich lives in Round Rock, Texas, and she's a renter who insists on having a garden plot. This year, she is also raising a variety of tomatoes, but the record rainfall in Texas has taken a toll: Her Celebrities, Carnivals, Big Boys and Champions are taking a long time to ripen. And the skins are starting to split.
Tomato love gone wrong is something Ron Alose of Newport, R.I., knows about. Every summer, when he smells the first sweet tomato from his yard, he remembers a story from several years ago, involving tomatoes, basil, olive oil, champagne and a light bulb.
Meg Watjen's Blueberry Slump
1 quart blueberries
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Combine berries, water, lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and nutmeg in a heavy shallow saucepan or skillet. Cook 5 minutes. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, tablespoon of sugar and salt. Add milk and stir until mixture is very thick. Drop batter by spoonfuls on boiling berry mixture. Cover closely and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not remove cover during cooking period. Serve warm with cream.
Serves 4 to 6.
Juanita Weisbrich's Texas Caviar
This recipe is adapted from one from Marty's Cafe in Dallas.
For the salad:
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (I use more, especially when I can pick it from my garden)
1 cup diced yellow pepper or green pepper
1 cup diced red pepper or orange pepper
1 cup diced red onion
2 serrano chile peppers or 1/2 cup diced poblano chile pepper (serrano chile peppers pack heat; poblano peppers are mild)
Thick-cut tortilla chips
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lime
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup canola oil
Mix salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients, add to salad and toss. Let chill overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving with tortilla chips.