Jun 3, 2009

Itchy, Prickly, Sticky...Must Be Summer

It's June. That means it's hot and sticky here. It also means popcorn showers fueled by the Gulf. I have a love-hate relationship with those. They do help cool things down at the hottest part of the day and I love that I can smell the sea in the air. I have friends who say these Gulf showers make the air smell like Holly Beach (The Cajun Riviera)...and that's not always a good thing. Also, if the showers end too quickly/early, the sun comes out, things heat up again, and boy does it get steamy. Flat irons be damned. Even the straightest hair can't hold back the humidity.

My son is counting down the days until June 21 because "that's when summer starts." Never mind that he has been out of school since May 22. Never mind that the farmer's markets have now been selling "summer" fruits and vegetables for a couple of weeks. Never mind that it's 90+ degrees and so soupy that you break a sweat spending 2 minutes outside, the air so thick with moisture, you'd swear you could swim in it. He's apparently going to stick to the proper schedule. He doesn't yet understand that Louisiana Climate laughs at scheduled solstices...and gives them the finger for good measure.

As a child, I never relied on a calendar to announce Summer...but then I spent my childhood here. My son has only lived in LA for 11 months. My idea of when seasons began was an agricultural one. We played with the huge earthworms that surfaced when my dad tilled the garden to get it ready for the spring plants. Our favorite thing to do was to take the large chunks of soil and throw them against the metal shed where the lawn mower was stored. If your chunk broke open and there was a worm inside, you won. This, not robins or crocuses, was the harbinger of Spring. Then a short limbo...the time between Spring and Summer came when the carrots and cabbage and broccoli started bolting and we helped pick and pull the last scraps from the Spring garden.

For me, Summer was underway when I walked through the garden and noticed the "tomato plant smell" after brushing against them. And when my legs would get itchy from the prickly stems and leaves of squash and zucchini and my fingers sticky from touching their blossoms when I could find ladybugs on them...that was definitely Summer.

Sautéed Zucchini

from Ms. enPlace, adapted from a friend's recipe

4 medium zucchini (yellow squash can also be used)
4 TBSP unsalted butter, or 2 TBSP butter and 2 TBSP olive oil
2 clove garlic, minced
lemon juice (I don't measure, I just squeeze)
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse zucchini and cut into bite sized chunks or half moons. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the zucchini and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini starts to get tender and browned in spots. Add the minced garlic and lemon juice and sauté for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Mise en place. It really is that simple.

The butter has been melted, so it's time to throw in the zucchini. Sometimes I cut it into chunks like this, other times I go with half moons. It really doesn't matter just as long as the pieces are somewhat uniform.

Saute zucchini, stirring now and then, until tender and starting to brown in places.

When the zucchini is almost as tender as you'd like, toss in the garlic and squeeze in some lemon juice. Saute for a few more minutes. All that's left is to season with salt and pepper and serve.

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