Simple Pleasures of Summer

By Sherry Hurley / Photography By Maggie Freeman | Last Updated July 27, 2017
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Fresh veggies, rich memories served on paper plates.

Summers are a source of rich memories for me—some so clear I can taste, smell and feel them.

Like the summer garden I grew up with, the farmers’ markets where I now shop bring berries, peaches, green beans, corn, okra, eggplant, summer squashes, peppers, tomatoes, basil and so much more. Summer means bountiful, fresh and always delicious ingredients. It means simple pleasures like eating chilled watermelon to relieve the summer heat or standing over the kitchen sink eating fresh, juicy ripe peaches.

For me, more than any other time of the year, summer means meals are ingredient driven and recipes are quick, easy and versatile. Ratatouille and cobbler are two of my go-to favorites. With the ratatouille, I love being able to take advantage of so many different vegetables in one dish. It can be a light meal served over herbed quinoa, or made hearty by adding Italian sausage or shrimp and serving over grits. The cobbler recipe I chose works for strawberries, apples and everything in between, with peaches and berries being my favorite flavor combination.

I also crave family recipes, like my mom’s BBQ chicken, that were a tradition during summer months. We would spend a long day out on the lake and as soon as we got home, my dad would fire up the grill and Mom would make the barbecue sauce, a recipe she learned from her own mother. Family recipes of cold summer salads like cole slaw and potato salad would serve as accompaniments. The picnic table on the deck would be set with a 1960s terry tablecloth with images of watermelon. We would use paper plates for easy cleanup and paper towels to wipe off the sticky, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.

The food I grew up eating was seasonal, simple and straightforward, informing and inspiring the food I now share with clients, their guests and with you. Food should be a pleasure, not a chore. I hope you will try these recipes, perhaps adding them to your own summer food traditions.


Louismill Parmesan Smoked Grits

Louismill Parmesan Smoked Grits pair nicely with both the Farmer’s Market Ratatouille or Mom’s BBQ Chicken… but then grits can go with just about anything!

Farmer’s Market Ratatouille

I love this recipe for its adaptability. In spring I substitute asparagus for the eggplant, and in fall I use winter squash instead of summer squash. You can make it spicy by adding red pepper flakes...

Peach and Black Raspberry Cobbler with Brown Butter

Use this recipe all year round by replacing the peaches and blackberries with 3 cups total of fruit from other seasons such as strawberries in the spring, blueberries in early summer or apples in the...
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