Summer memories of childhood can be real, or imaginary, but most likely a combination of both. My paternal grandmother was a big part of my early life in West Tennessee as I have mentioned in other posts over the years. She was a very good cook, a gardener, she kept chickens for eggs and for Sunday dinners. She picked berries in the summer to make jams and jellies. She sewed and loved to sit on the porch in the summer shade shelling peas and talking about her life.
She was not a formally educated woman, but was a country woman of her time who knew how to do things and I learned a lot from her including how to make one of my favorite summer spreads which she called “minnow cheese”. As in “would you like a minnow cheese sandwich for lunch”? The silly play on words always delighted me.
I cannot remember what kind of cheese she used, but I make my “minnow cheese” with a sharp or medium white cheddar hand grated for better texture. A small jar of chopped pimientos to about 3 cups of shredded cheese is just about right. Pimiento cheese sandwiches are iconic in the South. Every family had their own recipe or variation on this cheesy spread.
A splash of pickle juice, chopped fresh dill from our little garden, freshly ground Organic Flower Pepper (thank you forever Jesse Goldstein), and a generous spoonful or two of Duke’s mayo. That is all you need to make this summer classic. We like it spread thickly on slices of Dozens Bakery Harvest Rye Bread lightly toasted with a few leaves of crisp lettuce. It is also delicious as my grandmother served it on thick white bread slices plain and simple.
Biting into one of my Grandmother’s sandwiches of minnow cheese is a very real summer memory. It is a memory that comforts me in these very not-so-comforting times. Do you have special memories of summer foods from your childhood? Have you been cooking more comfort foods lately? What are they?
Here you go…..have a bite. Here is a link to another Pimento Cheese post I did a few years ago.
I love Garden Parties. Whatever the season. May Garden Parties in Nashville are the best. Gardens are verdant, flowers blooming, herbs abundant and the weather is still cool enough to keep the mosquitos at bay. This was the setting yesterday for the 2015 Historic Germantown Garden Guzzle, an annual event that is now over 26 years old. The idea is to tour neighborhood gardens, drink wine and beer, have a few snacks along the way and convene with neighbors to celebrate the coming of summer. It is a unique Historic Germantown Neighborhood event and it has been mine, and Wouter’s, pleasure to have been a part of it for 10 years.
This year our garden was on the tour. As a garden host it is expected of one to have some sort of “bites” available for the “guzzlers”. After rummaging around in our cheese drawer and a quick trip to the grocery these are the “bites” I came up with. “Sun-dried Tomato-Fresh Dill-Cream Cheese & Feta with Zaatar Spread” for matzoh & water crackers and “Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip” with sweet potato chips, flax-seed chips & crisp raisin bread plus a large bowl of chilled green grapes.
(I used my new “Hasami Porcelain” bowls from “Wilder” which is an amazing art and home goods shop in our neighborhood on 4th Avenue North.)
These were both “off the cuff” recipes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry. I was pretty confident about the sun-dried tomato-dill dip but not so sure about the combination of blackberries and blue cheese? A delicious combination on both counts!
Don’t you think this color is both fantastic and just a bit odd for anything other than ice cream? I do, but it was fantastic all the same.
Our dog Ella standing partially under the table hoping to catch a few bites for herself!
Wouter here is a bite for you…enjoy while in Amsterdam!
Here is an older blog post I did a few years ago on our “Guzzle”.
Sundried Tomato-Dill-Feta & Zaatar Spread and Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
- 1 generous Tbsp Zaatar
- 1 pint fresh blackberries + extra for garnish
- 6 ozs blue cheese crumbled
- 8 ozs goat cheese softened
1. For Sun-dried Tomato-Dill Spread put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and spreadable. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with crackers such as salted matzoh and water crackers.
2. For the Blackberry-Blueberry Dip put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust to your liking. Serve with chips such as sweet potato, flaxseed and raisin bread crisps.
Notes: Feel free to experiment and come up with your own “what do I have on hand” dips and spreads for summer parties. Keep it simple and fresh and it will be hard to go wrong.