Whether you define the start of summer as the moment it’s finally warm enough to break out your favorite short-shorts (sans tights, of course), the void between the beautiful ending of one school year and the dreaded beginning of another, or the first weekend you and your girls can head to your favorite beach, it’s finally here for many of us, in all of its mercurially sunny splendor (And if you’re one of those sticklers who believes that summer starts the day of the summer solstice, face it – you’re an anomaly).
In many places around the country, summer also means weekly farmers’ markets galore and the opportunity to buy local produce that’s in season around this time of year. Seasonal produce will often be cheaper and much more delicious because it's sourced from within your state or region--not shipped from thousands of miles away. So you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint!
Sometimes what’s in season may not exactly match up with your prior fruit-and veggie-wielding experiences. A glance at these amazing graphics (above and below) commissioned by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture gave me great ideas about what sort of freshly-harvested goodies are available at my local markets, but none about making more than boring ole' salads with the veggies I spent 20 minutes haggling for, or what to do with boysenberries, tomatillos, and figs. So below are a few fun recipe ideas that will hopefully encourage you to stray away from your standard grapefruit and apples (just until fall hits!) in pursuit of something more novel and fresh.
DIY Berry Lip Stain (The Beauty Department)
Make use of any leftover blueberries or raspberries you have after they start to get a little mushy. Pomegranates aren’t quite in season, but boysenberries are a gorgeous maroon and could serve as a great substitute!
Grilled veggies are an easy, versatile, and beautiful way to show off your fantastic farmer’s market finds. Summer squash, asparagus, and bell peppers all work fabulously! It looks great but is really beyond basic -- all you have to do is slice the vegetables into strips, toss in olive oil and grind a little sea salt and black pepper over everything and grill until light char marks appear (or dark ones, if you're daring). If you don’t have a grill, you can always use your broiler – just keep an eye on it!
Avocado Tea Mask (Michelle Phan)
Because hey, your guac never tastes as good as the stuff at your favorite Tex-Mex place, so why bother trying? In contrast, this facial mask will undoubtedly do wonders for your skin. Plus it keeps in the fridge for a week!
Apricot Cheesecake Bars (MarthaStewart.com)
Dear ole’ Martha S. has these delectable bars listed as a ‘Father’s Day Dessert,’ but they strike me as more of a Friday night guilty pleasure. Either way, you’ll have the chance to put some fresh apricots and a lemon to good use!
What ideas do you all have in mind for the summer season?
Images and Video Courtesy Of: Deerfield Farmers’ Market, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, The Beauty Department.com, Robert Soriano, Michelle Phan, MarthaStewart.com