Country Kitchen: Thoughts for Summer Meals

Country Kitchen: Thoughts for Summer Meals

By Mary Emma Allen

Even though we're proceeding through the warm days of summer toward fall, there still are some hot, often humid, days remaining. During this weather, we often don't like to spend a great deal of time working in a hot kitchen. So we search for refreshing dishes that will appeal to our family, yet be easy to prepare.

COLD SOUPS often are on the menu as an appetizing food. These can range from a fruit soup with a compote base of stewed fruit or a creamy yogurt, to a vegetable soup like gazpacho with a tomato base.

FRUIT SALADS are a favorite with my family. We purchase any fruit in season and cut it up for the salad. These can include peaches, plums, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, bananas, apples, oranges, kiwi, and others.

Generally the fruits are tasty enough that you don't need extra sweeter, but occasionally you may want a dash of sugar or honey. We particularly like to add mashed, slightly sweetened, strawberries which help flavor the entire salad.

The fruit salads are delicious plain. However, for a festive or dessert touch, you can added whipped cream, whipped topping, ice cream, or sherbet.

I prepared a FRUIT/CHEESE/CRACKER TRAY recently when friends came for a Sunday after church barbecue. Using a large sectional tray, I placed crackers in one compartment, large pretzels in another (I like cheese and pretzels), slices and cubes of various cheeses in two more, pineapple chunks and melon pieces in another two. I could have placed dip in another section.

This seemed to be a popular dish at the barbecue. You could make it using entirely veggies and dip or a variety of fruits.

Cut up RAW VEGETABLES into bite size pieces. They make good munchy snacks with or without dip, but also can be served as the vegetable at a meal. These might include broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cherry or grape tomatoes, carrots, pepper strips, cucumbers, and snow peas.

MAKE-YOUR-OWN SANDWICHES on the menu enables the cook to cater to all appetites in her family or when entertaining. With various rolls and breads (wheat, rye, low-carb, French, Italian and others) you can use a combination of meats and cheeses.

Roll up sliced meat (ham, turkey, beef, chicken) and arrange attractively on a tray or glass plate with a variety of cheeses. On another tray, place slices of tomato, cucumber, green and red pepper, pickles, and lettuce leaves.

Then with a variety of condiments - mayo or flavored mayonnaise, salad dressing, mustard, and catsup - your family and guests can prepare whatever they want. With this you might serve the veggie and dip tray.

STUFFED TOMATO SALAD makes a tasty addition to a summer meal. Cut out stem and core of unpeeled tomatoes. Starting at center, cut into quarters or eighths, one fourth of the way down. Pull gently apart but do not separate at the bottom.

Fill with tuna salad, potato salad, cole slaw, cottage cheese, vegetable salad, seafood salad, or another filling of your choice. Serve on lettuce leaves with a dill pickle on the side. You might accompany this with potato salad or chips.

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from in multi-generational home in Plymouth. If you have food information and memories to share, write her at: or 55 Binks Hill Rd., Plymouth, NH 03264. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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