Those dog days of summer bring on unrelenting humidity, blazing heat and multiple cooling showers a day (and not necessarily downpours from the sky). But it also fills every farmer’s market and CSA box with the greatest selection we tend to have at any other time of the year. Right now, our meals should be textured by the crunch of sweet corn, overly wet by juicy tomatoes and bounce from sweet to hot due to the schizophrenic readiness of peppers. Dare I ever buy a melon from a grocery store again after being cast under the magical affect of its musky perfume?
We don’t have to wait until after a rainstorm to see a rainbow there is one every night on our plates for we are assaulted by every hue of the color wheel.
How do you deal with this generosity? Is there nothing more distressing than a prefect peach going bad on the counter? Oh sure, at a farmer’s market you can buy a pint of this and a quarter pound of that. But what about those of us who are getting more than the week’s worth through our CSA’s and backyard gardens? Even the sweetest of tomatoes gets redundant by the end of the season.
For me the answer is in squirreling away the day’s excess. Freezing whole tomatoes for a winter’s sauce or soup and slicing some with a sprinkle of salt to dehydrate in the summer sun; and then, there are the afternoons spent roasting, peeling and seeding peppers to be stored in the refrigerator under olive oil. The incendiary Thai chili that has fruited with great profusion is being bottled in the form of hot sauce to get me through until next year’s supply returns.
Today I feast assured I have planned for tomorrow.
Chili Sauce – yields approx 1-quart
1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
3/4-cup distilled vinegar
2- lemon grass – roughly chopped
1/2-cup Thai basil leaves
1/2-cup Vietnamese cilantro leaves
1-cup lemon balm leaves
1/4-pound red or yellow Thai Bird's Beak Chili
Place everything in a blender and process until completely smooth. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator.