A recent visit to my husband Ted's home town of Montreal, Quebec, reminded me how much Ted loves maple syrup in all forms (cookies, candies, and straight from the jug). In the house where I grew up, maple syrup was an occasional treat; we were allowed to drizzle it on pancakes or waffles (always frozen, never homemade), and that's it. Ted takes a broader view, coating everything from matzoh brei to ice cream with maple syrup. I consider it a pantry ingredient, one I love to use in savory dishes in place of sugar or honey. Here in Rhode Island, we have a couple of friends who tap their own trees every Spring, and boil the sap to make syrup. It's a labor of love, as it takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
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In the house where I grew up, my dad took charge of weekend breakfasts. Every Saturday, he made challah French toast, with rich, eggy bread left over from Friday night dinner. The surprises came on Sundays, from a repertoire that included "spit in the ocean", fried eggs and salami, and eggs scrambled with cheese or, if we were very lucky, leftover spaghetti and meatballs. I still eat eggs for breakfast on most mornings, and I like something sturdy to hold them up. When Cousin Martin visited a few weeks ago, we made these savory Southwest cornmeal waffles with red cornmeal from Rhode Island's iconic Kenyon's Grist Mill. I much prefer heat to sweet for breakfast, so we topped our slightly crunchy waffles with fried eggs and some spicy habañero salsa. You could go the maple syrup route, too.
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Here in New England, summer -- and everything in the garden -- comes crashing down, literally, in the first two weeks of September. Ripe peaches plop from the trees, and we hurry to scoop the last tomatoes off the vines before they fall and rot. No one wants to give up on summer, so if you're in denial, like I am, try these roasted shrimp tacos with ultra-fresh avocado peach salsa. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, and creamy avocado, dribble down your chin, in a way that makes you believe that summer can go on forever. I always have shrimp in my freezer, but if you have scallops or salmon or other mild fresh fish, go ahead and substitute. A few pickled jalapeños on top, or extra cilantro, would be great. Pack these tacos to go, for an end-of-summer beach party or picnic.
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When it comes to salad, I fall in love easily and often, and when I do, I eat the same salad for days until my affections find another to love. I fell hard for this bacon, lettuce and tomato salad, tossed with a creamy dressing made with fresh basil from my herb garden. You'll want to use fairly robust lettuce, the ripest tomato, and just enough bacon to remind you of the best BLT sandwich you've ever had. Don't skimp on the basil; the dressing should be vibrant and herby. If you absolutely need the bread for your BLT, add some large homemade croutons. This is an in-season salad, so enjoy it now with the end of the summer tomatoes and basil. Then, save the recipe for next summer. You'll fall in love all over again.
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