Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Taste of July

Sometimes when things are hectic, and even grim, heavy with solemn news of tragedies around the world, it’s good to take a deep breath and think on lighter subjects, like the taste of good th…

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A Taste of July

Sometimes when things are hectic, and even grim, heavy with solemn news of tragedies around the world, it’s good to take a deep breath and think on lighter subjects, like the taste of good things. God didn’t have to give us our senses. Have you ever considered that? But He did. He gave us sight, hearing, feeling, and the wonderful joy of smelling and tasting. And I think He smiles when we delight in these gifts from Him.

So–speaking of taste–if someone asked you what you taste when you think of months like November or December you’d readily reply with words such as “turkey,” “fruitcake,” “pumpkin pie,” “orange zest,” “peppermint,” or even “snow cream.” The taste for February? Maybe red velvet cake, Earl Grey tea and Brunswick stew on a cold drizzly day. But July? What are the tastes you think of for July?

Tastes and smells are so interrelated that we can hardly separate them, I think. So the first taste of July that I think of is a grilled hamburger with the aroma of charcoal on a humid afternoon as part of the taste. Imagine a good, juicy hamburger thick with lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, dripping with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, or whatever your choices of those condiments are. The taste may even give you the sensation of ketchup dripping from your chin. And, of course, along with the taste is that wonderful feeling of relaxing with friends and family, being secure in one’s favorite part of the world.

Or consider watermelon. On this taste it’s hard to remove the visual from the taste. Watermelon slices are so festive and beautiful! But think of the taste, maybe at a picnic table in the middle of a hot afternoon. Do you want salt on it? Do you need a fork? Or do you just love watermelon all by itself with your face in it? Do you take the seeds out first, or dive in and taste that sweetness spitting the seeds out as you go? Ahhh, the taste of watermelon heart as soon as the melon’s been cracked open. That’s the best!

The taste of ice cream–now just try that one! Maybe butter pecan, rocky road, strawberry, peach, chocolate, or–even just plain vanilla. Get it in a cone and walk down the street licking as fast as you can to get every delicious slurp before it runs down your arm!

What about all those wonderful vegetables? There’s corn on the cob fresh from the pot with butter drizzling down the rows of kernels. Here’s another one you smell before you taste, first the fresh green shucks as you prepare it and then that unmatchable scent of corn boiling on the stove. That is pure July!

Have you had pan fried okra this year? Prepared from perfect tender pods of okra straight from the Open Air Market in Cairo, Georgia? Pan fried is our way to do okra, sliced thin, dusted with flour and fried in very shallow (healthy) oil. Cook it until it’s almost burned. It’s crisp and wonderful! Serve it with sliced tomatoes, your favorite meatloaf and some fresh field peas.

Don’t get me started on yellow, crookneck squash. There is really no better taste in this world than squash cooked fresh from the garden. My mother used to cook about a peck, I think, every day when so many of the ten of us were still at home. She stewed them and mashed them to a pulp and we ate every bit of it every day. No matter how I butter, salt, pepper, or not, no squash I cook is as good as Mamma’s was. But it is still pretty delicious!

The taste of July–salty sweat, a green sourwood leaf (not to digest, just to chew, as sour as the name says), fresh peach cobbler steaming hot, fried green tomatoes, eggplant casserole, small fried catfish, cantaloupe from Papa Graham’s garden, zipper peas and cornbread. And don’t forget the taste of warm figs picked and eaten at the laden tree with crows fussing because they think it’s their tree. And don’t forget the taste of the sea as you walk a beach, the taste of rain that suddenly cools a sizzling day, and the taste of a crushed mint leaf.

How many tastes would you like to add to my list? Feel free! And, better still, go ahead and really taste them! And remember God delights in our joy.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalm 34:8

P.S. This is not an anti-diet blog, just a taste spree!



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Stopping for Peaches

It was a blistering hot Sunday afternoon, the 3rd of July. Charles and I had thoroughly enjoyed the day before with grandchildren at Wild Adventures, had stayed over in Valdosta to visit a friend’s church and now were taking the long way back to Cairo. We both became sleepy and were looking for some neat shady spot where we could pull off the road and take a nap. The fields of tobacco, cotton, and corn were beautiful but our eyes were heavy.

And suddenly on that quiet road we spotted an active market advertising peaches. Lawson Peaches, it said. Charles said with sudden alertness, “Let’s have some peach ice cream!”

A rambling, open kind of building with a generous porch and various levels, the place was thriving with activity. A sweet jolly lady served us ice cream and we found just two empty rockers left on the porch where we sat enjoying our treat. Across the road we could see peach orchards. Other visitors rocking slowly commented on how good the ice cream and what a neat place this was.

We talked about whether or not we’d buy a gallon of peach lemonade to take home. Then we ambled over to the market area and knew for sure we’d buy peaches. These were Fort Valley peaches, we were told, because the season for Morven peaches had ended. A spirited lady informed us that the peach crop had been very good except for the ones which should have been coming in just now. She waved toward that particular orchard on the rolling landscape and explained that there hadn’t been enough winter for those trees.

We chose a peck of peaches. I was examining a jar of bread and butter pickles when Charles said I just had to come on around the end of the building. I quickly saw why. There were luscious buckets of blueberries, nicely displayed fresh okra, tomatoes both green and ripe, yellow plums, Vidalia onions, cantaloupe, and everywhere friendly helpers ready to bag up whatever we wanted. I went wild! I think the only thing I didn’t buy was the pickles and that was just because everything else was too good to leave behind!

We packed everything into the car and left feeling very rich! I remembered how my mother used to get so excited when we’d come to one of those open markets and she’d say, “Here, Honey, go buy some tomatoes–and maybe a cantaloupe and some cucumbers.”

Our next stop on the way home was with dear friends Jerry and Barbara Smith in Funston, Georgia. We talked a mile a minute. They’re the kind of friends you never get completely caught up with and with whom you can pick up a conversation six months later as if you’d never stopped spilling tales. We left there with a dozen of their yard hens’ eggs added to our loot.

Our grandson, Charles D, was at our house to greet us and was quite eager to have some pan fried okra. And on the Fourth, you probably know what I made to contribute to the cookout at our granddaughter Amanda’s: a peach berry cobbler. That’s a recipe from way back that all our children greatly enjoy. We dined sumptuously on grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, and fixings, then cobbler and ice cream while waiting for dark to come so Jared could begin the fireworks.

I hope you, too, had a wonderful family time for your celebration of our country’s 240th!

Peach Berry Cobbler

(an old recipe published in a collection from Clarkesville, GA, the book now stained and coverless but recipes still good!)

Preheat oven to 375. Baking time: 40 to 45 minutes

Combine in saucepan: 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. white sugar 1 tbs. cornstarch. Add 1/2 c. water and blend. Cook until thick and translucent stirring constantly. Add 1 Tbs lemon juice. Then add 2 cups sliced peaches and 1 cup blueberries. (I usually make a bigger pie, just add more of everything!) Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish.

Topping: 1 c. self-rising flour, 1/2 c. sugar mixed. Use pastry blender to add 1/4 c.or 1/2 stick soft margarine. Mix with 1/2 c. milk to a batter consistency and pour over fruit.

Last touch: mix together 2 Tbs. sugar and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Sprinkle over cobbler. This is a touch you won’t want to miss. It smells so good baking!




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