I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen, all year round, but summertime is definitely one of my favourites. I love walking into the kitchen and being able to choose what I want to make that day – seeing all the colour in the fruit bowls, and the variety in the fridge and cupboards is truly a delight for me and I look forward to it every year. Summer time is the time of abundance, and a time to treasure the produce of the Earth, at the time of year when it’s ACTUALLY being produces by the Earth. In this article, I am going to talk about what I think are the values of a summer kitchen – eating seasonally, cooking in hot weather, and preserving surplus.
In today’s society, eating seasonally is practically unheard of. We have access to whatever produce we want, all year round, not really thinking about where it comes from, and the impact is has on the environment. I am so lucky, and grateful, to be able to sustain myself eating a plant-based diet where I live, and to have access to bananas all the time, but we need to start reflecting on how this impacts our planet, and think about reconnecting with nature and realigning with the seasons, to cultivate more sustainable eating habits.
Eating seasonally means taking as much from the current season as possible and consuming what’s on offer at that time of year. It means eating the produce – fruits and vegetables, that naturally grow during that time of the year e.g. strawberries in May-June time, not January.
Eating seasonally helps you to align yourself with nature and the environment, eat more sustainably, eat more healthily and its generally cheaper, so (as much as you might here otherwise) it doesn’t break the bank.
Here is some inspiration for meal ideas, making it easier for you to eat seasonally in summer:
The following are ideas that you can expect to see soon but are not in my recipe log yet (check out the Kitchen for current recipes):
- BBQ roasted jacket potatoes
- Garlic roasted vegetables
- Chickpea kofta
- Grilled peaches
- Tofu quiche
- Potato salad
- Black currant ice cream
Cooking in Hot Weather
We get them almost every year, but still, the British people are not accustomed to the staggering temperatures of a heat wave. Our houses aren’t built for such temperatures, and for a lot of the days, we either resort to eating outside, or simply snacking instead of eating proper meals. Luckily, my culture loves a good BBQ.
BBQ’s are a great way to end a hot summer’s day. My family will usually have them in the evening when the air is cooler and there’s more of a breeze. Cooking and eating outside is a great way to avoid the sticky hot kitchens associated with dinner in the summer. If you don’t have access to the facilities for a BBQ at home, then sitting outside is an amazing alternative to help you conquer the sticky summer evenings and make the most of the sunlight (and you won’t stick to your dining chair).
Another way to cool down your kitchen in hot weather is to eat cold dinners, or cook food that you can eat cold, during the hotter parts of the day. For example, a quiche – my family love a good tofu and summer vegetable quiche accompanied by a fresh garden salad when the weather gets too hot. It involves almost no effort, it’s really simple, and (when you’re all sweaty) you don’t have to cook anything because it’s been made earlier that day or the day before.
I wanted to take the time to inspire you to sit outside and eat your meals every now and again. On sunny days, you can guarantee that a lot of people will be outside all day. Why not make the most of the beginning of the day, when other’s haven’t ventured outdoors yet, and enjoy your breakfast outside? Bring it with you on a morning walk and sit under the trees, enjoying the simplicity and romantic hue of the morning sun. Or take yourself out for a picnic – prepare yourself your favourite sandwich, or try one of My Signature Surplus Sandwiches and take your taste-buds on an adventure as well as yourself – sit in the park or on a bench you’ve never sat on before, and just enjoy.
Preserving your surplus is a key part of summer for me. Turning fresh foods into pickles and jams means that you can enjoy your favourites during the colder months, without having to source them unsustainably.
One of the most obvious ways of preserving surplus food from the summer (in this instance fruits) is via the making of jams, conserves, and marmalades. The best way, in my opinion, to enjoy summer fruits all year round, is to make jam out of the leftovers. Strawberry jam is generally a favourite as it’s extremely easy to make and it tastes so divine. My household loves marmalade more than Paddington bear, so making the most of the summer’s oranges is essential for smiles and sunshine all year round. Easy fruits you can make jam from include strawberries, raspberries, oranges (marmalade), red currants, black currants, cherries, plums, blackberries, gooseberries, apricots, you name it! Jams are mostly made from berries and currants as they have more pectin in either their seeds or their skins, but you could also try an obscurer flavour such as rhubarb (let me know how this goes if you try it out!).
Alternative to jam, you can try your hand at making chutneys. Chutneys are more of a savoury jam (with a fair bit less sugar), usually made from onions or tomatoes and are rather chunky (this doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious though!). Or, something that our farmers are extremely partial to, you can get what’s called “Pickle” in the UK which is essentially a vegetable jam/chutney containing a variety of different vegetables (usually carrots, apples, and onions) and is eaten with savoury lunch-time dishes.
Another fun way in which you can preserve your surplus is by pickling. I love pickles. I’m the weird friend that, when out for dinner, is given all the pickles from other people meals. You can pickle so many different vegetables though. Some of my favourites include cucumbers (gherkins) of course, but also beetroot, onions, olives, jalapeno peppers, and cabbage (sauerkraut). Pickling is simply just the fermenting/preserving process of cleanly storing your extra vegetables in pickling vinegar, extending the shelf life of the veg.
Other examples of preserving surplus can simply be freezing your fruit and veg or drying them. Our freezer is usually choc-a-block with boxes of different fruits and vegetables that we want to keep for over the winter. But it means that we get to enjoy things like sweetcorn and gooseberries and rhubarb in the colder seasons, without having to source them unsustainably. Drying your fruits and veg are an equally good way of storing your surplus. I generally tend to go for easy-to-dry produce e.g. chili peppers and herbs, but it is also possible to dry fruits at home. Vegetables aren’t generally dried because they tend to go bitter and too crunchy to eat (unless you’re thinking of making your own popping corn).
Like I mentioned earlier, summer means you’ll find me in the kitchen! If I’m not cooking up a colourful dish using produce from our garden, I’ll be making jam or pickles so we can enjoy these summertime beauties in the cold depths of winter.
Let me know what you get up to in the kitchen over the summer! I’d love to hear all about any ideas you might have for future content, or if you have any questions about summer time in the kitchen from this article. Tag me @rhythmandgreen on Instagram if you share anything made from or inspired by this website, and we’ll be sure to feature some of your creations on our stories!
I look forward to hearing from you soon and I hope you have a blessed summer!