Happy Summer!

blueberry picking

Here’s hoping your garden is bursting with tomatoes and zucchini and green beans, cucumbers and peppers and melons. Maybe you’ve dug some potatoes. Or headed to a local farm to pick blueberries. Or stocked up at your farmers market, bringing home enough sweet corn to roast on the grill today, as well as cut off the cob and freeze for those dark days of winter. Because that’s what this season of plenty is all about, right?

Here’s hoping, too, that you’ve fired up your grill to sear some local pork and share beverages brewed in a pub not too far afield. Maybe you’ve hosted friends you’ve been meaning to invite over forever. Or welcomed family from out of town. Or reached out to your neighbors that you don’t see enough. Because that’s what’s special about this season of long, warm, sunny days.

And here’s hoping that you’ve traveled to far-flung places, tried your hand at new skills and seen how your life’s dots could be connected in different ways. Because those are all vital to summer, too.

I’m hoping you’ve read some good books and cut out of work early and logged some hours by the pool or lake or on the trail.

I know I have. Which is why you haven’t heard much from me lately.

But I haven’t forgotten you. In fact I’ve been seeing and chatting with many of you more than ever. Plus, I’ve been teaching classes. And reporting stories. And creating healthy, seasonal recipes. I just haven’t had a chance to tell you about it all.

So, here’s my quick mid-summer catchup. You’ll find photos and links to recipes, stories, even a guide to summer berry picking. I’m betting it will tide you over until August when the school bells sound again and all our lives begin marching to a stricter routine.

Until then … Happy Summer!

Savory Summer Crepes

So far this summer …

In early June I taught a class at the Roanoke Co-op: Local for Lunch: Berry Bonanza. I prepared a Mixed Greens and Berry Salad, Arugula Strawberry Spring Rolls and Ginger Berry Smoothie Bowls. Class participants all tried making the spring rolls — and discovered how easy it was to roll them. My friend and fellow blogger Becky Ellis wrote about the class on her blog, BubblyBee.net. Thanks, Becky!

To those who attended that class — and to a few of you who asked — I handed out this guide to Summer Berry Picking in Southwest Virginia. We are so lucky to live in a place where Pick Your Own Farms offer berries from early May through the end of September. There’s still plenty of time to bring home buckets full of berries! Know of a Pick Your Own farm I missed? Message me and let me know. I’d love to expand on this list.

In mid-June, the story I wrote about the incredibly creative and talented fiber artist Gibby Waitzkin was published in SWVA Living. Over my months of reporting this piece, I was lucky enough to visit Waitzkin’s land —  named Sarvisberry, after a tree that first drew her family to the property back in the 1970s — in both the fall and the spring. This place, it’s such a dynamic landscape. But you know the best part? You can visit it too. Tour Waitzkin’s state-of-the-art studio or rent her Airbnb to immerse yourself in Floyd County’s natural beauty.

At the end of June, my beet salad recipe was included on the Association of Food Bloggers’ top vegetarian recipes post. 

beet salad

In July, I shared a recipe I created with the healthy eating website Grounded & Surrounded. It got lots of love there. And then, site creator Sammi Ricke shared it with a Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms recipe roundup and out of the 76 recipes collected by that site, my crepes were chosen as the top featured recipe. So, if you were going to make just one of the recipes in linked in this post. I might pick that one. Just saying.

Later in the month, I taught a healthy eating class at Scott Insurance in downtown Roanoke. The topic? How to make nutritious, tasty lunches by creating salads in mason jars. I really enjoy talking with folks about how to eat healthier. The best part is how surprised some are that good-for-you can also be tasty and satisfying. If you are part of a workplace that invites speakers to teach employees to eat better, send me a message. I’d love to cook for and lead a demonstration for your company, too.

Finally, inspiration for what to make with what’s coming from your garden or farmers market. Here are my favorite recipes for tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant. 

tomato-topped quiche

Oh and before I go, let me tell you about an event you’ll want to look into. Two of my favorite local food establishments, Bramble Hollow Farm in Montvale and Local Roots restaurant in Roanoke, are pairing up to bring you a dinner and workshop that promise to be both palate-pleasing and eye-opening. On Wed. Aug. 16 at 6 p.m., Local Roots will be serving a four-course meal showcasing New Hampshire Red chickens bred at Bramble Hollow farm. Then, on Thurs., April 17, from 4 to 8 p.m., North Carolina-based writer, farmer and cook Meredith Leigh will lead a presentation at the LEAP Kitchen: Inspired Cooking With Heritage Poultry. If you’ve ever wanted to taste heritage chicken or learn more about the how and why of raising heritage birds, these two events are not to be missed. For dinner reservations, call Local Roots at (540) 206-2610 and for tickets to the cooking class, call Anna Wills at (540) 947-0337 or e-mail [email protected].

That’s it for now. Enjoy these peak weeks of zucchini and peaches, salsa and gazpacho. I know I’ll be loving every bite!

cucumber peach salsa