Savoring the dog days
by Brittany Grace
Lately, lots of friends have been talking with excitement about the anticipation of fall. I love fall and all the colorful changes in atmosphere, weather, mood and food it represents, but I do NOT love that it is the season that precedes winter. Last winter was so long and cold, I keep pessimistically seeing fall as a sign that winter is coming instead of enjoying autumn for what it is.
Winter. That dismal, gray, bone-chilling time of year when my whole body aches for chlorophyll and fresh berries and the oddly comforting smell of sweat with sunscreen. You’re probably thinking, it’s the south – haven’t you had enough of the insufferable heat? Or, I am so ready for the cold and the coats, boots, chili, hot cocoa and snuggling that come with it!
But when you grew up in the swampy, warm land of north Florida and did not own a scarf until your senior year in high school, winters can still be a challenge. No, I have not had enough of the sun. And no, I am not ready for the cold.
So, I will relish these “dog days” of summer.
I will savor the tastes of sun-ripened tomatoes, sounds of lawnmowers, smells of steamy rain on hot asphalt and freshly cut grass (those smells get me high, I think), feelings of hot humidity that leave my clothes completely soaked after even the shortest of runs in the park.
This is the time of year when things feel the most alive. The rest of summer, I will wake up for sunrise, stay up late, go barefoot, perplex my inner tomboy with painted toenails, feast on produce straight out of the ground, enjoy cicada choruses, sip green iced tea vodka on the rocks, make strawberry granita, perfect sweet corn soup, wear out my sundresses, drive with the windows down no matter how sticky and wind blown my hair becomes.
I will float on my back in a placid pool of blue like my friend Adrienne did in this picture:
This week, I will ingrain the feeling of summer in my mouth.
This feeling will come from berry granita. Field pea salad. Tomato sandwiches. And, the aforementioned corn soup.
Sweet Summer Corn Soup, adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food
5 or 6 ears of fresh corn
1/2 onion (I used yellow, but if Vidalias were still in season, that’d be good, too)
1/2 stick butter
1 quart water
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan (on low heat). Finely dice the onion and shallot; add to butter and allow to soften, 10-15 minutes, but don’t let it get brown (a tad brown is alright, don’t worry). Add salt to your liking. Shuck your corn and take the kernels off the cob. If you stand the cob up on the counter and cut down, the kernels will come fast but you’ll have little shards of corn all over your kitchen and face. What works best is if you put the corn on the cutting board and cut the sides of the cob off, as if you wanted to make it a rectangle.
Add all corn to the butter mixture and cook for just a couple minutes. Then, add quart of water and bring to a boil. When boiling begins, turn stove to low and simmer until corn is tender (around 5 minutes). Take pot off stove, and carefully put mixture in food processor – remember hot soup expands and emits steam – little batches at a time, reserving 1 cup of corn. Puree rest of mixture; add cup of corn kernels to pureed soup and pour into your preferred bowl or cup.
Garnish with olive oil and chili pepper, or creme fraiche and fresh cilantro.
*Enjoy experimenting with the texture of this soup. Alice Waters directs you to puree all the corn and use a sieve to separate the husks and any chunky bits, which gives you a very refined, silky soup.