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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Have You Written Your Summer Bucket List?

John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist
Hobby Farms Contributors

Have You Written Your Summer Bucket List?
Courtesy iStock/Thinkstock

Did you write your summer bucket list yet? Writing down specific experiences that you and your family want to do this season is all the rage—and for us farmers with the "planning” gene, it’s a fun way to keep organized. As we all know, the months between June and September fly by so quickly, so it’s helpful to have a visual checklist to remember take a break to catch fireflies, camp under the stars or go to strawberry picking.

With the first day of summer right around the corner, we need to get to writing our summer bucket list. Our early-summer garden quickly accelerates to full-throttle abundance. Between planting the garden quickly followed by mulching and weeding (we’ve found an hour of weeding in June equals three in August, so we’re motivated), our daily schedules are full. Instead of writing a bucket list of things to do, we’re compiling one of seasonal things to eat. We spend so much time and energy planning and caring for the garden, our family needs reminders to truly celebrate the fruits of our labor—in culinary style, of course.

Our farm-to-table bucket list is a simple, hand-written list taped to the inside of our kitchen cabinet door, a spot we’ll see daily. We keep an on-going list of recipes and ideas, adding and crossing out as the summer months move along. It’s nothing too formal or pressured—afterall, the bucket lists are supposed to be fun. But it reminds us of all the culinary inspiration we’ve come across and want ot put into action.

If you, too, need to start working on your summer bucket list, maybe you’ll join us in creating your own edible version. Here are some tips to help you write it.

1. Tap Into What You Grow
There undoubtedly will be multiple times during the summer when your kitchen counter sits covered in something, from zucchini to tomatoes. You will have ample supplies to experiment with in new recipes.

As things will remain busy and staring at that basket of pea pods with no plan at the end of the day feels overwhelming, prepare yourself with a selection of new recipes that use a large amount of that fruit or vegetable. We’re always on the lookout for new salad ideas, particularly ones that use our perpetual abundance of spinach and kale greens.

2. Fill In The Blank:  "I always wanted to make _______________”
Quick, give us an answer! What recipe lurks in the back of your mind that a palette of fresh seasonal ingredients would bring to life? For us, this summer, it’s empanadas. We love the empanadas we get from street vendors in the city, which doesn’t happen often enough, so we need to learn to make our own. Last summer, we installed a new outdoor wood-fired oven, and we think it would be fun to bake and freeze batches of empanadas, filled with all sorts of garden combos like spinach and feta cheese served with a fresh chimichurri sauce.

3. What Can You Do Only In Summer?
Prioritize that list of recipes that showcase the fresh harvest. Zucchini Feta Pancakes rank as our seasonal favorite. They must be made only with fresh zucchini (trust us, we’ve tried and failed with frozen) and, therefore, show up regularly on our bed-and-breakfast’s summer plates. Our Farmstead Summer Sangria and Chocolate Basil Whisky Cake with fresh basil also only come out in summertime.

4. Celebrate The Firsts
Remember to celebrate and savor the first harvest of something. This could be an annual special recipe that you make when something first is available. Right now, we’re anticipating those first tomatoes to cook up
fried green tomatoes or transforming the first beets into beet chips. Last week, we cooked up our annual favorite of Spring Peapod Stir-Fry with the first snap pea harvest.

We all agree summer passes too quickly. We found the net result with a summer culinary bucket list is that we appreciate the season even more, knowing we did all we could to get as much as possible of it on the plate!

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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