Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

It Is August And It Is Hot!

 


I have to get started early in the morning if I am going to work outside. I can build up a tolerance to the heat as it rises throughout the morning but around 2 o’clock in the afternoon I am toast. There are always chores to do when you own a 185 year old house.

And since it is August, I have to be out checking my vegetable garden and my fruit trees. My vegetable crop is just tomatoes and peppers of some sort. I do have cucumbers this year but they will be gone next year. My fruit trees are pears, apple and figs that were here when I moved in. And I planted peaches and more apples since then.

I don’t have a large garden or many fruit trees but I have enough to keep be busy. I started a large garden once with the idea that I was going to can everything. But the garden did not cooperate with my schedule. I wasn’t ready to can when the crop was ready to be picked. So I decided I would grow a few items that I like and able to keep up with. Tomatoes; I pick them everyday and eat them. If there is more than I can eat, then I freeze them. Tomatoes are perfect to freeze, dry, and can. Peppers; I eat them everyday too. I like spicy food and I put some sort of hot pepper in or on everything I eat. And I can freeze them to make pepper jelly later when it isn’t so hot in my kitchen. The fruit trees become my schedule when they are ready to pick.

I have a pantry of canned fruits (mostly figs) and peppers (all sorts) from our garden and vegetables that were either given to us by a neighbor that had such a large crop that they couldn’t keep up with it or some that we bought at the Farmers Market or on sale at a grocery store. So even with a small garden we have a pantry with over 300 jars of items that we use year round. We give away more than we eat. When you name your jarred fruits after your grandchildren, Morgan’s Strawberry Fig, Carson’s Red Raider Cherry, Grayson’s Grape, William’s Peach and Reese’s Apple Jam, there is always a demand. And since this is the South, besides naming jams after your grandchildren, we have War Eagle Pepper Jelly and Raging Tiger jelly. And least we forget Bourbon Orange Marmalade.

It is August and it is Hot!

The good news is that this is the time of year that there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables in your garden, your neighbors’ garden, at the Farmers Market and in your grocery store. In Alabama, we are blessed with a mild climate and a long growing season, and now is the time to reap the benefits. Apples, beans, cantaloupe, okra, peaches, peppers and plums, squash, corn and tomatoes and watermelons are some of the produce usually ready in August for your enjoyment.

It is August and it is Hot!

That last thing I think about eating when it is 95 degrees and the heat index is 105, is something hot. To me spicy is okay but not hot. With all the fresh produce available, cold salads would be in order.

Here is a recipe that you can make ahead of time, (like a cooler time of day) and enjoy right out of the icebox. And if you are like me you will have spare Mason jars that need some use. This is for a cold salad but requires you to cook some white rice. It does use a number of bowls and some prep work. And the jars look cute with some raffia tied around the neck holding a Spork. If you are sitting outside watching the sunset, this is a refreshing salad before a meal or as a snack anytime. Both salads today come from Martha Foose, author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook.

It is August and it is Hot!

While you were drinking your sweet tea, and wishing is was January, have you ever wondered why we Southerners drink so much sweet tea? In an article in Garden and Gun, Allison Glock says, “Southerners prefer sweet tea because back in the day we used sugar as a preservative and our palates grew to crave the taste. Southerners like sweet tea because it is served cold and it is hot as biscuits down here. Southerners like sweet tea because we are largely descended from Celts and Brits, making yearning for tea a genetic imperative. It is impossible to imagine eating most Southern foods without sweet tea. You can’t wash down pulled pork with water. The caffeine makes it possible to drive home after Sunday brunch of fried chicken and cheese grits.”

She also says that “there is a religious fervor with our sweet tea affection. The craze for coffee is an addiction; the craze for sweet tea is an obsession.”

With the only ingredients being water, tea and sugar, sweet tea out ranks, grits, pimento cheese and the best brand of mayonnaise as controversial talking points at the kitchen table.

It is still August and it is still Hot!

Before the heat overcomes your A.C. unit and the condensation on the outside of your glass of sweet tea is wetter than the inside, try this next salad. It is Southern and has three Southern food groups; pork, okra and succotash. There is cooking involved but you could stretch it out over several days and make this salad from leftovers from other meals.

Tip of the Day:

As you survive this summer as you have all the past summers, then your meals may have had these ingredients. These foods are said to help promote long life, as I have been told.

Avocados, Walnuts, Beans, Milk, Peanuts, Oatmeal, Tea, Almonds. Except for the milk and avocados, these items should be in your pantry.

Remember the Farmer’s Markets and corner markets have produce that is local and fresh and your purchase supports your fellow citizens.

 

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