The Season for Eating.

Seasonal eating is something I knew very little about a few years ago.  I just assumed that all fruits and vegetables grew somewhere year-r0und, so it didn’t really matter when I purchased any particular item.  But it turns out it does matter – a lot.  When you eat seasonally, food tastes like it should – at the prime ripeness and brightest most beautiful color. 

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If you’ve ever eaten a tomato in February, you know what I’m talking about.  My stomach is turning a little bit just thinking about it.  Whenever I see restaurants that offer caprese salads on a year-round menu, I know that it’s not a place I am likely going to enjoy. 

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You’ll notice that even in the dead of winter, grocery stores will sell berries. But if you have ever actually desperately paid the $8.99+ per carton for them in the dead of winter, you also know that they taste sour and disappointing. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that eating seasonally is just a better decision all around – the food tastes better, is priced better, and is so SO much better for our planet when bought during peak growing season.

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I look forward to June, July, and August all year long.  In part, I love the vacations, the summer breeze, the extra-late sunsets, and pulling my sundresses out from their winter hibernation.  But most of all, I love the food.  I love fresh herbs growing on my window sills…

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And so much produce available that it overflows from my wooden basket onto the countertops.

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And the feeling of pure joy I get when I walk into a grocery store or farmer’s market and see the very first summer strawberries, finally ready and ripe, and gorgeous bright red. 

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But if I bought these things all year round, I wouldn’t feel any of that.  The allure of eating seasonal is that it’s just that – only here for a season.  Grapes in my refrigerator in January would feel like a Christmas tree in my living room in May – intrusive and out of place. 

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And so with summer finally here, it is a different kind of Christmas in my kitchen.  The kind that brings melons and ears of corn, and so many berries that my husband wonders how I possibly think a household of three is going to eat all of this produce before it goes bad.

Trust me, we will manage.

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When it’s cold outside and there is frost in the air, I am comforted by the heaviness and warmth of things like pancakes and oatmeal.  All the while knowing that lighter meals and berry bowls are waiting for me when the temperatures finally rise.

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And when they finally do, there is nothing more quintessentially summer than corn and tomatoes. 

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I grew up spending summers at the Jersey shore, and every single night while the moms bustled around the kitchen, we kids were scooted outside with a big bag of corn to husk before dinnertime.  I have never husked an ear of corn in my life that hasn’t made me think about sitting on our back porch steps in Stone Harbor. 

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And while I have learned in adulthood that most people pair sliced tomatoes with salt, in my house they were only ever served with a sprinkling of sugar.  You can bet that my kids will have their tomatoes sugared too.  Just like mom. 

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And while I can’t imagine curling up with this meal in front of a fireplace when there is snow on the ground, in the summer there is truly nothing better. 

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Here’s to the season of colorful plates and dining al fresco.  I’m going to enjoy every berry and every bite!

And if you were hoping for a recipe today, you are still in luck!  Head over to Eat, Live, Run to see my guest recipe – Cinnamon Apple Glazed Cake Squares!  They are vegan, they are fluffy, and they are absolutely delicious if I do say so myself.  Enjoy!