Summertime and the livin’ is easy…

For those of you who have read Appalachian Gold, or at least viewed the cover, you might surmise that I enjoy wine.  It’s true, I do enjoy a good glass of wine.  Normally I prefer a good, solid red wine.  However in the summer, particularly on a warm afternoon, I enjoy a refreshing glass of white wine.  The picture of the wine glass on the cover of Appalachian Gold came from a picture I took last October in Blairsville when I set a glass of white wine on the railing of our back deck and saw the fall colors reflected in it.  I grabbed my camera and the rest is history.


A number of people like to drink white wine chilled.  It can be difficult to keep it cool when sitting outside on a warm afternoon so I’d like to share a little trick my wife and I use.  We buy seedless grapes, both red and white, remove them from the stem, and then freeze them on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen we seal them in ZipLoc freezer bags and keep them in the freezer.  When serving wine to guests we put a handful of the frozen grapes in their wine to keep it chilled without diluting it.  When they finish the wine they can eat the now thawed grapes.  It always ends up being a good conversation piece and most people resolve to do it themselves when they get home.  Some people like red wine chilled, particularly sweet red wines, and that’s where the frozen red grapes come in.

Another thing I like about the warmer weather is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at local farmer’s markets.  The tomatoes and other veggies we get this time of year are head and shoulders above what we normally are able to get at supermarkets.  Nothing tastes better than a traditional Margherita pizza that has been grilled on the BBQ.

Our traditional BBQed Margherita pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil

We cultivate basil and rosemary ourselves because we love fresh spices.  We grow them in containers on our back deck.  Despite our efforts to use it we always have prolific amounts of both left over as the growing season ends.  So here’s another trick so you can use them all year round.

I harvest either the rosemary or basil and then put the leaves in a food processor and puree them with olive oil, fresh garlic, black pepper and a little salt.  It’s kind of like a pesto without the nuts.  I like to get it to a pasty texture, not completely liquid, but yet smooth.  Then I put it into muffin tins and freeze it.  When frozen I remove from the tins and vacuum seal the individual “pesto muffins” using our FoodSaver.  That way I have them available year round since I usually manage to have enough frozen to last us until the next summer’s fresh crop comes along.

I use the rosemary “pesto” as a marinade for grilled chicken breasts and rotisseried pork loin.  I recently tried putting a tablespoon or so of it in my sourdough rye bread and it came out really tasty.  Of course the 53-year old sourdough starter that I’ve fed and tended for the last 28 years also helps!  I mix either the basil or the rosemary pesto with ground beef before grilling hamburger patties.  No other spices are needed in the meat.  Or I thin the basil “pesto” with extra virgin olive oil and then brush it on the pizza dough I grill on the BBQ. I then add cheese (fresh mozzarella, parmesan reggiano, peccorino romano), grill it until the cheese is melted, and finally add fresh tomatoes for a unique and delicious Margherita pizza.

  Our unique Margherita pizza grilling on the BBQ

I guess this writing has been making me hungry and thirsty judging from the content of this edition of my blog.

I’ll be happy to provide detailed recipes and instructions if anyone is interested.

Do you have any tips for summer food or drink you’d care to share?

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