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Well hello, friend!
August is one of those months to which I look forward. I love how the month feels transitional, both a part of summer and mixed with the excitement of returning to school. No, I’m no longer in school, but I enjoy the idea of a new beginning, a fresh start, and maybe the hint of a new season.
For my neck of the woods, this August contained some of the hottest summer days, along with some of the coolest. Well, perhaps they felt cool because of the sweltering weather. I took the cool mornings as a sign that I could begin to dream of crisp fall days with bright-colored pumpkins, hot coffee, and autumnal-themed leaves.
This month also ushers in some of the best summer produce. The garden began to reap tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. This means that I was often in the kitchen with my mom, preserving and preparing jars of produce for winter. And that’s not even to mention the simple summer meals that allow the ripe fruit and vegetables to shine in all their glory. All of this is to say that August may very well be the best month of the summer!
Hopefully, you’re enjoying this newsletter within the comforts of cooler weather or air conditioning, with a glass of your favorite drink so we can chat for a bit.
Let’s talk about the garden.
At the end of the month, the garden is at its zenith, with so much produce ready for harvest. From eggplant and zucchini to tomatoes and peppers, there’s so much to be enjoyed.
I’m not the only one happy at the idea of a fruitful crop. I just found the signs of a tomato hornworm on one of my tomato plants. Daily, I scan the plants for any signs and just recently noticed one had leaves gone at the top. That’s how I know something is eating them. Sure enough, after searching, I found one tomato hornworm. You would think it would be easy to spot them, but it’s not. But one means that there are indeed more. Little can be done, so I simply remove any worms by hand. If you have the same problem but can’t find any worms, buy an inexpensive black light flashlight and shine it on the plants at night. The worms glow and are much easier to find.
I’ve picked buckets of hot peppers in the past few weeks and made a few batches of hot pepper mustard. This recipe is a family favorite and quickly becomes a favorite of any friends who try it. I love to use it as a condiment with almost anything, but I grew up using it as a dip with salt, cheese, and tortilla chips. Some peppers were also used in a few batches of salsa that Mom and I canned. The prep takes some time, but we love the salsa and use it throughout the year.
Since the tomatoes are having a great year and the salsa didn’t make much of a dent, we also canned tomato juice, which I use in any tomato-based soup. Homemade juice is much thicker than the store-bought variety and is perfect in chili, which is the ideal lead-in to the idea of fall.
With cooler weather on the horizon, I’m already envisioning all of the warm-weather soups I can have simmering away on the stove while I decorate with pumpkins. And yes, I’ve already started to place some pumpkins around the farm. I can’t help myself!
Let’s talk about food.
I love going out to the garden before dinner to pick a few things and then make a meal. That’s pretty much what I found myself doing every evening this month. With the recent influx of tomatoes, I’ve had plenty on hand to enjoy fresh. Tomatoes often need nothing more than a bit of salt, which merely enhances their immense flavor. If you haven’t done this yet, salt your sliced tomatoes about 5 to 10 minutes before eating them. You’ll be amazed at the deliciousness, and if you like tomatoes, I think you’ll agree that there’s nothing better during the summer!
When I want to make something simple but still of the season, I love to combine tomatoes with pasta. The flavors shine through, and there’s a heartiness that’s super filling. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Tomato and sweet corn pasta. It’s a simple combination of tomatoes with sweet corn, but it screams summer. Plus, some sweet corn is blended with cream to create a delicious sauce.
- Roasted tomato pasta. The tomatoes are roasted and then blended to make the perfect sauce for pasta. It sounds simple, but it’s so good!
- Sungold tomato pasta bake. If you’ve never had a Sungold tomato, this is the time to seek them out and make this recipe! This pasta dish is almost like macaroni and cheese but better!
- Fresh tomato herb pasta. What could be better than herbs, sliced cherry (or grape) tomatoes, and long strings of pasta?
- Tomato zucchini summer pasta. The zucchini and tomatoes work so well together in this recipe. You’ll love the freshness of the light sauce as well.
Labor Day weekend is right around the corner (this weekend here in the US), and I have many recipes that I serve. The food is usually similar to Memorial Day, but Labor Day is an ode to the end of summer, so I make the best summer food! Here are my favorites that I hope you make, too!
- Italian tortellini pasta salad
- Grilled pork burgers
- Creamy pasta salad
- Easy pasta salad
- Beer brats with sautéed peppers
- Family favorite potato salad
- Sweet barbecue baby back ribs
- Grandma’s truly homemade baked beans
- Easy macaroni salad – this one is a real winner!
- The best grilled burgers
Let’s talk about Kip.
Kip had a terrific August! The cooler weather allowed Kip time outside, chasing his frisbee and watching me water from the shade of trees. The warmer days were spent indoors, and I moved his bed to different spots during the day, following the sun. He loves to lay in the sun.
While this sounds like normal dog behavior, I find myself filled with joy as I type. Since Kip had such a harrowing July with his hospitalization dealing with a bout of pancreatitis and IBD, having a “near-normal” or dull month is something I can cherish. On the advice of his veterinarian and the team at The University of Illinois, I switched his food from The Farmer’s Dog, which has a higher amount of fat, to a lower-fat food that will hopefully keep the pancreatitis at bay.
I’ll always have to be slightly on edge when it comes to Kip to ensure he’s healthy. But I’m thankful for each day! And I’m so grateful to so many of you who replied to last month’s newsletter with words of encouragement and advice. I really appreciate all of the support, and I know Kip does as well!
That’s it for this month of August. Next month, we’ll really begin to feel the fall season on the farm, and I’m hoping I’ll have an upstairs renovation update for you! Until then, take care and enjoy the month on the horizon!
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