Cooking in the summertime was a chore. You didn't want to heat up the kitchen if you didn't absolutely have to. My mother had a repertoire of things she would make early in the day, when it was relatively cool, and then chill. These were things we pretty much ate only in the summer time. I remember tuna-macaroni salad, potato salad, devilled eggs, pickled beets, three-bean salad, jello salad with fruit. She made spreads from leftover roasts: ham salad and roast beef-horseradish spread. Some nights dinner was "salmon salad." Everyone got a plate with iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges and hard-boiled eggs wedges, a scoop of canned salmon and a dollop of Miracle Whip. Bread and butter on the side.
The fruit selections in the summertime were heavenly. Back then, you could only get them seasonally, so we made the most of strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, watermelon, canteloupe. Raspberries were a rare treat--they were for rich people. mother said. My mother would wash a nectarine and give it to me in a little bowl with a spoon of sugar to dip it in. Bliss!
The one supreme reason to heat up your kitchen in the summertime was to boil water to cook corn. Corn on the cob, with plenty of better and salt to roll it in, made the steaminess worthwhile. It was one of those times you were allowed to make noise and get messy at the table. There wasn't any delicate way to do it. Often there was enough to have seconds.
The misery of too hot, too humid days was balanced by the joy of these foods which only came once a year. I'm not sure I could adequately explain the intensity of the sensory experience to my younger daughter, who has grown up both with central air conditioning, and foods available year round. As we go the the Oakland Mills Farmers Market, and cook the foods we receive from our Breezy Willow CSA share, I hope she is getting a better understanding of where the food comes from, and how it arrives in its due season.