Summer Foods of Our Childhoods

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Corn on the cob, blackberry cobbler, fried okra and tomatoes warm from the garden — these are the foods that take me back to my childhood. What summer foods take you back to your first taste of summer?

It’s been a strange gardening year here in the Sacramento Valley. First the weather was totally wacko — lots of cool days followed by rain this spring. On top of it all, my tractor broke and it took me until the end of June to even get something in my garden plot.

Summer Food

Each summer, I look forward to picking blackberries on my own home ground. My daughter and her boys come over and make it a day. I cook the biscuits and sausage gravy for Tara and her sons. Of course, there has to be pancakes for my younger grandson Tate. He’s not a fan of gravy. It’s just a tradition I love. This year has not been good for my blackberries. Usually by the Fourth of July there are enough berries to make a big cobbler. Here it is at the end of July and the berries are just now getting ripe.

When my kids were little, we’d go out to one of the strawberry farms. One year I had my youngest in a backpack while we picked those huge red berries and hoped some of them would make it back home. You knew when you picked a perfectly ripe strawberry. When you pulled it off the stem, you’d hear a pop!

I’d make strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam. Who doesn’t love hot jam with crackers and butter? Those were magical days spent with my three blessings. If I could only spend one of them again and see those sweet faces covered with red strawberry stains!

Perhaps you’re not a fan of okra. In that case you probably haven’t had it fixed like the Okies do. Okra is absolutely delicious cut up thin, tossed in some flour, salt, pepper and a little corn meal then fried as crisp as you can get it in a big iron skillet. It reminds me of my granny’s little garden and how that okra seemed to reach to the sky. No one on the earth could make that okra taste as good. My mouth is watering just thinking about a big plate of okra with corn on the cob dripping with butter.

What foods do you look forward to in the summertime? What did your mama cook that was better than you have ever eaten since? My mama talks about taking the salt shaker out to the garden and eating sun ripened tomatoes. Have you done that?

Food and Family

Food is a great connector. Each family has their own legacy of favorite foods. I’m so lucky to have been born into a family that knows how to cook. I’m also very fortunate to live in the heart of farm country where almost anything you’d want to eat is as fresh as it gets.

If you’re ever in Galt, you’ll have to come on a Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s when the farmers come to the Flea Market with all their freshly picked vegetables. Anything you could want is there. It’s so fun to wander through the aisles and see the abundance of delicious foods. Music is playing and the aroma of tri-tip, Asian food and Mexican cuisine fills the air.

Okay, now I am getting hungry. We’d love to hear about your favorite summertime foods!


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