Season bounty preserved at home (from left): adult applesauce, tomatoes with basil and peaches with cinnamon. (Credit: John Ross)
My parents grew up on farms in Ontario, where their mothers spent much of the summer canning fruits and vegetables for use in the long, cold winter. The produce came from their garden, which was tended all summer long. My wife grew up on a farm in Michigan, where her mother spent much of the summer canning. She would drive all the way to Traverse City to buy buckets of cherries, one of the few things that she didn’t grow herself, to be preserved and end up in cherry pie. Preserving, a necessity for farm families then, is pretty much a lost art now that we purchase most everything ready to eat. But if you want to experience the fresh, preservative-free taste and aromas from our local tomatoes, peaches and apples, here are some small-quantity, easy-to-make beginner recipes. (more…)
The younger set at poolside during the author’s recent family gathering. (Credit: John Ross)
This was the summer when the relatives came. Nine grandchildren, three sets of parents, a couple of in-laws and three dogs. A wonderful long-awaited gathering months in the making. Feeding this group is a labor of love, but for a chef who cooks from scratch using fresh ingredients it presents a challenge in 2017.
Shrimp, clams, mussels, potatoes and corn — combined in a large paella pan — are part of a clambake for 12. (Credit: John Ross)
“Gather a lot of stones and lay close together. Gather driftwood and lay it on these stones and build a really good hot fire. Meanwhile, nearby dig an 18-inch or 2-foot hole in the ground, and after the fire has died down and the stones are piping hot, get a stick and roll them into the hole, enough to cover the bottom well. Have ready some seaweed, and (more…)
Cantaloupe and cherry tomato salad also has cucumber, avocado and mint. (Credit: John Ross)
As June ends and July begins, the farm stands come alive and we are blessed by an abundance of local produce. After June’s asparagus, spinach, sugar snap peas, rhubarb and strawberries comes the arrival of sweet corn in July. Then the tomatoes, the melons and the berries. And in the midst of all this we still enjoy the bounty of the sea. Here is a meal that includes some of July’s many ingredients: (more…)
North Fork Chef John Ross at work in his home office. (Credit: Lois Ross)
As you, my loyal readers, know, I enjoy a little poetry with my food, along with good company. Poems provide inspiration that takes mundane cooking to a higher level. And cooking from scratch, using the freshest ingredients, is therapy for me and almost becomes a spiritual experience.
Asian barbecued pork with stir-fried spring vegetables and jasmine rice. (Credit: John Ross)
As time passes and our knowledge of food and cooking increases, we seem to be much more confident around the outdoor barbecue. The equipment is more sophisticated, the deck is bigger and our repertoire of recipes is expanding. In my backyard I have a pop-up tent that covers a Big Green Egg, a Weber charcoal grill, an old smoker and a portable Green Egg. (more…)
Start your Easter meal with deviled eggs surrounded by avocado, grapefruit and baby kale. (Credit: John Ross)
Although lamb is more commonly served in the spring and at Easter due to its long tradition dating back centuries, smoked ham is a popular second choice. This came from a scarcity of lamb in northern Europe and the tradition there of smoking and curing ham over the winter. This tradition continued in colonial America, especially in the South. Today, we continue to enjoy smoked ham as a choice for Easter.