Country Kitchen: Thoughts for Summer Meals

Country Kitchen: Thoughts for Summer Meals

By Mary Emma Allen

During the warm, often humid days of summer, it sometimes becomes a challenge for the culinary artist to prepare meals to entice his/her family's appetites. Also, when the weather is hot, we don't like to spend a great deal of time working in a hot kitchen.

Cold Soups have been found as a refreshing way to start many a summer meal. These can range from fruit soup to a vegetable soup like gazpacho. The Scandinavians are famous for their chilled soups of thickened fruit juices, which they serve for dessert as well as for an appetizer From Spain supposedly as come the famed Gazpacho. This cold soup, sometimes called "liquid salad," is a blend of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumbers, olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned with various spices. Dried bread pieces or bread crumbs often are served with it and can be stirred into the soup, if desired.

Gazpacho now is internationally famous, but originally it was a soup the peasant farmers took with them to the fields for refreshment.

Serving Chilled Soups

Usually chilled soups are served as appetizers in chilled bowls or cups, sometimes set in a small dish of cracked ice. These soups are handy for the cook because they can be prepared ahead of time and left in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

They're also ideal for picnics. Simply fill a thermos jug with the refreshing brew.

Sometimes unflavored gelatin is added to the liquid and when thickened, cut into cubes and served as a chilled jellied appetizer instead of a soup.

Fruit Salads for Refreshing Fare

Homemade Fruit Salads are a favorite in our household. We purchase any fruit in season and cut it up for the salad. This can include peaches, plums, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, bananas, apples, and oranges. Generally the fruit is sweet enough that you don't need anything more, but occasionally you might want to add a dash of sugar or artificial sweetener. We particularly like to add mashed strawberries to flavor the whole salad.

The fruit salads are delicious plain, but for a festive or dessert touch, add whipped cream, ice cream, or sherbet.

Vegetables Are Tasty, Too

Cut up Raw Vegetables into bite size pieces. They make good munchy snacks, but also can be served as a vegetable at the meal. Serve them plain or with a dip. These can include broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cherry tomatoes, carrots, pepper strips, cucumbers, and snow peas. Also, the traditional Tossed Salad made with a variety of vegetables in season can accompany any meal. You can add sliced hard boiled egg, chopped meats and cheese, pasta, and/or rice for a hearty salad. Then top it with your favorite salad dressing and toss lightly.

GAZPACHO - Combine 3 peeled, chopped medium tomatoes, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 chopped onion, 1 peeled and chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil, 6 tablespoons bread crumbs (if desired); mix well. Stir in 2 cups tomato juice, 2 cups chicken stock (can be made from bouillon cubes), juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Chill until very cold. Makes about 9 cups.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

The Country Kitchen Series

Window to the World

Mud Season Means Spring!

Memories at the Kitchen Table

The Pioneer Kitchen

Fascinating Jelly Jars

Cook to Cook Letter Writing

Backyard Picnics

Summertime Picnics

Cookie Cutters!

Eggplant Tips


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