Well hello there! Do you know what time it is? It’s Summer Fest! And what is Summer Fest, you ask? It’s a 4-week celebration of fresh-from-the-garden food including recipes, growing tips, even tricks for storing and preserving summer’s best. And I’m very excited to be hosting this year with Margaret Roach of A Way To Garden. If you remember, last year the fest began with Margaret and Deb Puchalla and was such a fun way of “getting” together and talking about food and the bounty of the garden. More than that, it was filled with useful information and was such a great resource to me. I joined in during a few weeks and was pleased when Margaret asked if I’d be interested in participating again. How fast can one say yes?
Since Margaret is the professional type and spent years in publishing and me, well, I’m just a Career Troublemaker, I’m gonna let her tell you the 411:
HOW OUR CROSS-BLOG SUMMER FEST WORKS:
Summer Fest 2009 is a four-week, cross-blog celebration co-created (alphabetically listed) by A Way to Garden, Matt Armendariz of Mattbites, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, and Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, with guest appearances from Shauna and Daniel Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, Simmer Till Done’s Marilyn Pollack Naron, and Paige Smith Orloff of The Sister Project. And from you—that’s critical. Your contributions are desired, and needed.
THE 2009 SCHEDULE:
- Tuesday, July 28: HERBS. Any and all.
- Tuesday, August 4: FRUITS FROM TREES (also known as stone fruits, but we won’t scream if you toss in a berry or another fruit, promise).
- Tuesday, August 11: BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (either or both, your choice).
- Tuesday, August 18: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?
HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting Tuesday July 28, you can contribute in various ways, big or small. It’s up to you: Contribute a whole post, a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on Margaret’s blog at A Way To Garden, and then go visit the collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2009 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites).
Get in on the fun: Come comment, link to things from your own archives or the archives of your favorite blogs, post entire recipe in comments or on your blog.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how a Summer Fest works. Isn’t that grand?
The kickoff subject this week is HERBS, and I chuckled just a bit when Margaret said “Any and all” because I pictured her in a ’78 van emblazoned with super graphics and a bubble window while riding along with Cheech and Chong. Of course we’re talking about delicious happy culinary herbs so I’ll put my overactive imagination to rest.
Man, if there’s one thing I can grow it’s herbs. Ok, maybe one doesn’t really grow herbs as much as let them do their things, and that’s fine with me. Of course my tiny herb patch is an embarassment when you look at the garden of my friends Todd & Diane but then again my cooking needs are modest in comparison to those two. I’ll need a sprig or two to finish a dish or a chopped handful to add to an omelette, but where I really believe my herbs shine are in my cocktails.
What? You didn’t think I wasn’t going to bring all this back to booze, did you?
• MINT Well there’s a reason it’s called a Mint Julep in the first place. And you cannot make a Mojito without it. But my cocktail mint love doesn’t end there. I love springs of mint as garnish with vodka and soda, mixed into daquiries and just about any place where I want a bright dash of unexpected flavor.
• BASIL Ooh child, let me tell you something: basil was meant to be used in cocktails. You can make Basil Mojitos, add it to strawberry puree and vodka, put it in a martini, and it’s fantastic in a bloody mary.
• CILANTRO Ok, so there’s that love/hate thing with it so I don’t use it often. But I do love the long tall springs in a bloody mary or I’ll use it for garnish when it begins to flower. Que purdy.
• DILL Well, maybe I spoke too soon. I only know of one cocktail that uses dill and it’s call — wait for it — The Real Dill. It has tequila, vodka, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, English cucumber and a sprig of dill. It’s kinda nice but not my favorite.
• THYME and bonus points for LEMON THYME Thyme Bellinis, Berry Thyme Margaritas, Cucumber & Thyme Martinis, you catch my drift? I’m in love with Thyme in my drinks. It gives an herbal note without being too strong and seems so perfectly suited for spirits.
• ROSEMARY If there are a million ways to feature rosemary in a cocktail I wouldn’t know it. I’m stuck on one: A Rosemary Salty Dog. I’ll go so far as to say it’s a stellar drink that has spoiled me from an original. Seriously folks, try this:
1 grapefruit wedge and kosher salt
one 1-inch piece of rosemary sprig, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces fresh red grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
Moisten the outer rim of a martini glass with the grapefruit wedge and coat lightly with salt. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the 1-inch rosemary sprig with the sugar. Add the grapefruit juice, gin and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig.
What else what else! Do you have any interesting uses for herbs in your drinks?
SUMMER FEST AROUND THE WEB:
• Want to know how to grow and preserve a year of parsley? Margaret is your gal!
• My good friends Todd & Diane of White On Rice Couple give us a primer on Vietnamese herbs. H-E-A-V-E-N-L-Y is all I can say.
• A wonderful twist to traditional pesto using peanuts and basil with my gorgeous friend Jaden of Steamy Kitchen