The Perfect Summer Potato Salad

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by Lisa McRee

potatogreenbeansThis is a dish that is perfect for all of the endless “end-of-school-year” pot luck dinners or for BBQs all summer long: Oven Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad with Skinny Basil “Pesto.”

Real pesto–which is made with basil and garlic but also loads of oil, nuts and cheese–is delicious…but also very calorie dense. (The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe costs you 430 calories for a 1/2 cup serving.)

But by using more herbs, calorie free lemon juice and Dijon mustard, less cheese and oil and skipping the nuts altogether…this skinny “pesto-ish” dressing has just 120 calories but still packs a flavorful punch and a toothsome texture.

And by using an equal amount of green beans (40 calories a cup) as potatoes (140 calories a cup), you can have the sensation of a pesto potato salad with less than half of the calories!

Even the choice of potatoes–a mix of organic fingerlings, white, red and purple potatoes– makes a healthy difference in this recipe. Purple potatoes, while having about the same calories as russet potatoes, have 4 times the amount of antioxidants and are more effective in regulating blood pressure than regular potatoes. And almost as important as the nutritional value, is how easy this dish is…

Garlic Sautéed Yellow Squash and Carrots

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by David Latt

squashfreshIn summers past, I grew yellow squash with great success. The plants spread to every inch of the garden, threatening to overwhelm tomato plants, the herb garden and a small patch of arugula. After the vines firmly established themselves, the long, fat squash seemed to appear overnight. What to do with all those squash?

A neighbor saved the day. She loved squash blossoms. She would nip the problem in the bud, so to speak, by picking blossoms before the squash could appear.

Ultimately our best solution was avoidance. We stopped planting squash. Problem solved.

But I missed squash's pleasant crunch and clean flavor. Last week we were gifted with a basket of zucchini and yellow squash from our next-door neighbor's front yard garden. Picked while they were young, before they became watery, the zucchini and squash were unblemished, firm and the picture of health.

Of Fish Gifts and Fingerlings

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by Susie Middleton

quahogsReally, it is too hot to write. (No, my “office” in the old farm house is not air conditioned.) I thought I’d seen heat, what with growing up in Washington, D.C., and spending summers in North Carolina in un-airconditioned cabins. But I guess I’m old. And I guess farming is really one of the worst activities to do in a heat wave (or humidity wave, I should say). I keep trying to get up earlier and earlier to harvest, but it doesn’t matter what time I get up—it’s already hot. (Doing anything in the middle of the day is out of the question.)

Today, three tee-shirts and two (outdoor) showers later, I’m sitting at my desk, but really none the cooler.

Earlier in the week, I was all blasé about this heat thing, and actually did some cooking. In fact, I turned on both the oven and the stove (several burners). I was all excited because our neighbor Ralph Savery brought us a bucket of quahogs. First I made a quick chowder with some of our fingerling potatoes, onions, and fresh thyme. Delicious. The next night I made spicy linguine with clams. There are still a few clams left, which Roy is threatening to turn into Clams Casino—if we ever turn the oven (or broiler) back on at this point.

Summer Crumb Cake

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by Susan Salzman

crumb strawb.rhubarb sliceNothing really speaks summer better than fresh rhubarb and fresh strawberries. I love going ot the farmers market and smelling the scents of summer. Fresh fruit is everywhere: berries, stone fruit, citrus, it’s at almost every stall and one piece of fruit tastes better than the next.

Wanting to create something that screamed summer, it was a crumb cake recipe from Canelle et Vanille that inspired this recent dessert. With lots of strawberries on hand, not only did I make a whole tart for our Father’s day, family dinner but I made individual cakes (in Weck jars) for end of the year gifts.

When I stumbled upon the recipe, it inspired a memory from middle school. My first memory of a crumb cake was an aluminum, massive tray, manufactured, in the school cafeteria. I didn’t buy lunch or snack often, but on coffee cake day you can bet I had change in my pockets. The flavor of my first coffee cake is a far cry from this wonderfully light cake, but a crumb topping is a crumb topping – and that flavor is hard to beat.

Farmer Brown’s and Elberta Peaches

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by James Farmer III

farmerbrown4When I was little, I had a Little Golden Book about Farmer Brown's Farm. 

I was thrilled for Mama to take us to Farmer Brown’s Market in Montezuma, Georgia as children ...... and to tell you the truth, I still have the same thrill today!

Mimi and I went the other day for Elberta Peaches. Farmer Brown’s grows and sells the iconic peach in late July and into August in the same county from which they came. Though not the same Farmer Brown as in my Little Golden Book, the story is very much the same – a farm full of beautiful fruits and veggies and flowers set in a lovely land. This land called Macon County, Georgia, has stories upon stories of its own, but one in particular relates to peaches and thus our pilgrimage Farmer Brown’s.

Mimi and I went the other day for Elberta Peaches. Farmer Brown’s grows and sells the iconic peach in late July and into August in the same county from which they came. Though not the same Farmer Brown as in my Little Golden Book, the story is very much the same – a farm full of beautiful fruits and veggies and flowers set in a lovely land. This land called Macon County, Georgia, has stories upon stories of its own, but one in particular relates to peaches and thus our pilgrimage Farmer Brown’s.

White Chocolate-Caramel Swirl Ice Cream

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by Susan Salzman

icecream.whitechocoWe are so glad it's summer. Beach camp, sleep away camp, art camp, baseball camp, days at all the Los Angeles museums, road trips, days spent in our p.j.’s, and lots and lots of long bike rides.

I love not being on a schedule. All four of us need these 78 days and they couldn’t have come soon enough. From September to the end of June, life is hectic, riddled with schedules, and not so flexible. Summer is the antithesis of this and summer is what we long for.

Using pantry staples, left over egg yolks and jar of homemade caramel sauce, Eli and I stirred and churned and came up with an ice cream inspired by David Lebovitz. Using his basic white chocolate ice cream recipe, we swirled in the caramel sauce and added some candied pecans.

Super rich but super good!

Pearson Farm – A Peach of a Place

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by James Farmer III

freshpeachedOne of the many benefits of growing up in Middle Georgia is knowing where your food comes from. Knowing who grew it, where they grew it, and how they grew it. I cannot think of a better “know your farmer” situation than knowing the Pearson clan, especially since they grow this Farmer’s favorite jeweled delights of summer’s bounty – peaches!

Now that peach season is in full tilt, I journeyed out to Zenith and Lee Pope, Georgia (suburbs of the metropolis Fort Valley, mind you) with some out of town friends. They wanted peaches and I knew just the spot. This farm is my go to spot for peaches. I send my clients “thank you” baskets from this farm full of peaches, pecans, or whatever is in season, for I know that a gift from their farm is always in good taste. I wanted my friends to see the old schoolhouse turned packing shed, taste the best peach ice cream, and experience the sights, smells, and tastes this place offers. If you’re anywhere in Middle Georgia this summer, do stop by!

We traversed and travailed up US Highway 341 from Kathleen to the farmland straddling Peach and Crawford counties where the soil is imbued with the elements and nutrients favorable for peaches. In fact, this belt of soil in western Middle Georgia is so conducive for peach production, that the area has donned our fair state with its marvelous nickname - “Peach State.”

Zucchini-Shallot-Roasted Red Pepper Pie

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by Cathy Pollak

zucchiniquicheI love zucchini. I always have. My mom used to saute it with butter, tomatoes and was my favorite side dish as a kid. I use it in everything now, from chocolate cake to's a welcome veggie around here.

Now there's this pie. There is no fancy crust to make, you are just going to stir the ingredients together and bake. And it's going to turn out perfect. You'll see.

It's best served right out of the oven, while the crust is crunchy and the inside soft. Even my son LOVED this, I was so glad!

This would also be perfect for brunch in replace of's also much easier to make, a guaranteed no fail!

A Summer Setting

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by James Farmer III

summerflowersWith the bounty of produce at hand, summer is an ideal time to bring the garden indoors and enjoy the benefits of nature’s bounty at your table…especially in the air conditioning!

My inspirations often stem from interesting places and the springboard for this tablescape was a green plumb. The vibrant green yet soft and strong simultaneously led me to think of the different shades of greens that abound. Table linens depicting exotic summer flora and fruit and napkins in an ochre chartreuse proved the perfect pairs for the green inspired tableau.

Though the linens boast gorgeous colors in vivid rich hues, a simple gathered arrangement of garden greenery and faint colored blossoms was ideal for the centerpiece. Using a silver plateau inverted to hold oasis, I mounded and layered leaves of variegated hydrangea, acuba, hosta, fern fronds, and pale blue lace cap and ‘Ayesha’ hydrangeas. The tapestry of greens and soft florets were grounded with creams of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea that carried the cream theme into the cream glazed earthen ware from Provvista Desgins.

As for other elements of the setting, the garden inspired natural theme was continued with hydrangea leaf chargers, arrayed in concentric rings around and under the plates. Since the wild green plums were the inspiration for the tablescape, bowls brimming with the tart fruits served as perfect take home gifts for guests and place settings.

Summer Salmon Tacos with Mango Corn Salsa

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by Amy Sherman

salmontacoTo be honest, I haven't been feeling very inspired in the kitchen lately. I've been busy with lots of things including travel, and when I'm home I've been trying to eat the food in the freezer since it is on the verge of overflowing. But yesterday I was at the store and I found local king salmon on sale and some beautiful white corn. I thought about the mango I had and just like that, a plan came together.

Sometimes ingredients speak to you and the lightbulb goes off. I diced the mango to serve with dessert a few nights before but it was firm and a little too sour. That's not good for dessert but it's excellent for salsa. The salsa can be used with chips, with roast chicken or scallops. It's actually pretty good without the tomatoes too. I was a little undecided as to which way I preferred it, so try it both ways and you tell me which you like better!

This recipe has a lot of parts, but you can make the salsa and the sauce for drizzling ahead of time. You can even use already cooked salmon if that's what you have on hand. Even though it's cooked on the stove and not on the grill, it really tastes like summer--the fresh corn, tomatoes and salmon look like summer too. Here's to a little summery inspiration!


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