After an unusually cold winter that seemed like it would never end, we pledged never to complain about hot summer days. So I’m not complaining … but it has been pretty toasty here in Southern Maine for the past week. Warm enough to hook up the portable air conditioner in our bedroom and confine any cooking to the grill. Warm enough that a Maine beer, slugged back after an afternoon of yard work, goes down like water. Note I didn’t say “hot,” because that might sound just a teeny bit like complaining.
July may be National Blueberry Month, but in Maine, it’s the leading edge of wild blueberry season in Maine, with a few, high-priced pints showing up at farmers markets. For the big fields up north, the harvest is still a couple of weeks away.
Summer house guests expect blueberry baked goods, however, and there are local blues available — the fat, cultivated kind. They don’t have the same cache as Maine’s famous wild blueberries, but when locally grown, are still tasty. I’ve been eating them all week with my morning yogurt.
During my childhood summers in Maine, a favorite pastime was to “jig” for mackerel with a hand line off the bridge that connects Southport Island to the mainland. If we caught anything, we threw it back; mackerel was (and still is) considered a bait fish; not something you’d want for dinner.
I later became happily acquainted with smoked mackerel: the smoking process turns the oily fish into a tasty snack. Sustainable and good for you — high in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, and the antioxidant selenium, while low in mercury — mackerel deserves more respect.
A few weeks ago, our dear New Jersey friends Cindy and Bob Probert finally came to visit us at Rainbow Farm. We have a long history of, as Cindy says, “going places and eating and drink things” together, and we enthusiastically continued that tradition during the weekend they spent with us in Maine.
Even in Maine, we get summer days when it feels too warm to turn on the stove for dinner. So yesterday, when I got Ted’s daily text asking for my dinner thoughts, I responded almost immediately “Salade Niçoise.”
As its name suggests, this main dish salad originated in Nice, in Southern France. The original version included tomatoes, haricots vert (those lovely thin French green beans), anchovies, capers and Niçoise olives. It was served as a sort of crudité, alongside the main dish of meat or fish. I’m not sure when the additional ingredients we expect today — lettuce, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna — were added, but they certainly take the salad to a whole different level.