You know summer is here when long-awaited fruits emerge. Lately, I’ve been picking up pints of blueberries from our local farmers market, and my own backyard blueberries and blackberries (so easy to grow here!) are ripening like crazy. My kids and I try to head outside early so we can harvest them before the birds beat us to it. It’s a mad rush. Fresh blueberries make their way into lots of different recipes in my kitchen, but one of my favorites is a fast and easy fruit sauce that’s a perfect topper for dessert or a sweet breakfast.
Around Memorial Day weekend and throughout the month of June, summer fruits and veggies explode in South Louisiana. And at no time do these foods taste better than they do during summer. I’m talking about blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, watermelon, figs, peaches and more.
Local farmers markets have recently begun featuring blueberries, and here at my house, our backyard berries are ripening. That means cobbler will soon be emerging from my kitchen.
This is the summer that my children, ages 13, 11 and 8, WILL learn to cook.
Yes, I should have done this before now. But like most busy moms, I’ve been more focused on slapping dinner on the table than about explaining how it got there.
I realize that my kids are only getting older, and one day soon they’re going to need to scramble their own eggs. And that, as you know, is not as easy as it sounds. The one thing that cooking requires, more than natural talent or creativity, is practice. And unless I invite them in to make some messes and slow me down, they will never learn.
I’m so grateful to Louisiana artist Betsy Neely for creating the charming original black & white drawings that lead off each chapter in Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey. Betsy and I had a great time connecting over this project. Our process was to meet and discuss the tone and intention of each chapter, and in those meetings, I shared some of the things that stood out most during my research. As we talked, a single image would generally emerge between the two of us that seemed to sum it all up. Then Betsy would head off to her studio to start sketching.
Every cool, crunchy and refreshing bite of a homemade Asian-inspired chicken salad is the perfect antidote for the premature South Louisiana heat, which, no surprise to any of us here in Baton Rouge, seems here to stay. The assembly of this fresh salad is fast and easy – doable even during the nasty end-of-school rush I find myself in. It’s substantial enough to serve as a main course, and if you accessorize it with some store bought (or homemade) spring rolls, then, well, look at that. You’re done.
I’ve found my long lost culinary twin.
Blogger Genêt Hogan, who has the vibrant and heartwarming New Orleans-centric blog, Raised on a Roux, and I spoke recently on the phone after discovering each other online. Genêt left her native Crescent City for Atlanta about 20 years ago, where she’s been ever since. At about the same time, this Georgia native moved to Louisiana, where I’ve been ever since. Genêt has been keeping the traditions of the Bayou State alive in her home kitchen and she’s actively documenting them on her blog. It’s so versed in what’s going on New Orleans, you hardly know she’s been in Atlanta all these years. We had a great time exchanging notes about the power of food in defining who you are and how you live.
Here’s another in my series of interviews with Louisiana expatriates.