by Liz Gibbons-Camp

Originally published in the Chillicothe Gazette July 25, 2021

Summer is a time of long, bright evenings, and drawn-out twilight hours. As shadows lengthen, the heat of the day gives way to cooler air. It’s a perfect time to slow down and reflect, and enjoy sitting outside. For me, summer evenings also mean summer cooking.

How is summer cooking different from other cooking? Three main things define summer cooking for me:  don’t heat up the house, include lots of fresh local produce, and keep it simple.

Many houses once had a second kitchen, either outdoors or in the basement for cooking and canning. I don’t have a summer kitchen, but I do have a grill, so grilled foods are a big part of summer meals. So are salads and cold soups that don’t need to be cooked. Everything from vegetables to meats to fruits is delicious when grilled, and leftovers make perfect salad toppings.

Need some inspiration? Here’s a recipe from the library’s recent BookBag – Summer Cooking:

Grilled Peaches

You will need:

Peaches, halved and pits removed.

Directions:

Arrange the peach halves, cut-side down on a grill over direct heat.

Grill for 5-10 minutes, until there are grill marks on the peaches.

Turn and move to indirect heat, if possible. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the peaches soften.

Have the peaches ready, and toss them on the grill as you take other food off. By the time you finish eating your meal, you’ll have a delicious summer dessert. They’re great on their own or topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt.

The second thing that defines summer cooking is fresh, local produce. This can mean gardening or buying foods that are grown locally. My Saturday mornings almost always start at the Chillicothe Farmer’s Market. If you visit the Farmer’s Market, don’t skip the community tent! The library is there on the third Saturday of each month. The Market runs from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday May-October in the Service Center parking lot.

With long summer evenings so perfect for relaxing, who wants to spend a lot of time cooking? My family loves to cook, but in summer we look for easy meals with less hands-on time. When we light the grill, we try to cook a few meals at once, so we don’t need to cook the following day. We also like to prep several meals’ worth of salad toppings or veggie tray items and store them in the fridge. If you’d like some tips on quick and easy cooking, the library’s “Cooking with Johnna” series has lots of great ideas. Check out the library YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/CRCPLibrary) to see past classes.

Finally, I couldn’t talk about summer cooking without mentioning frozen treats. Popsicles, smoothies, snow cones and more are all welcome treats on a hot day. If you’d like to try making your own, there are several books at the library full of ideas.

Speaking of frozen treats, the Bookworm Finale Party is Wednesday, July 28 at 6pm in Yoctangee Park at the Bolmer Shelterhouse. Shine Orthodontics will be there with their ice cream truck, and the library will be providing snow cones. We’ll also have hot dogs from the Haute Doggerie, another summer favorite. Then finish your evening with free swimming in the Municipal Pool from 7:30 to 9 p.m.


Liz Gibbons-Camp is the Adult Services Manager for the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library, and considers ice cream its own food group. She can be reached at egibbonscamp@crcpl.org.