Summer Bucket List

So we just got back from our last summer hurrah, travel-wise: a trip over the Pass to Eastern Washington where the in-laws live. If you've never ventured that way, I highly recommend it, not only for the farm stands and big sky and wineries, but also for the blossoming food scene. We dined on local melons and corn, sausages, and my mother-in-law's patented, world's best macaroni salad. I'd give you the recipe, but she eyeballs it every time. My guess would be cooked ditalini, chunks of your favorite cheese, chunks of ham, chopped sweet pickles, hard-boiled eggs, and mayo to bind them all.

But back on our side of the mountains we have plenty of goodies left to enjoy, including salads like the one I make (pictured above) with cherry tomatoes, green beans, onions, and dill, in a vinaigrette. Everything but the dill you can find at the Market, and sometimes even the dill! Otherwise, dried works just fine.

If you haven't tried our Market cheeses yet, let now be the time. Last week I picked up Tieton Farm & Creamery's "Phoebe" Cheese, a "classic sheep & goat milk feta" that is just delicious. Smooth, crumblable, and so tasty. I threw some of that in our usual spinach salad, and even my ten-year-old (who does not like the feta sold at Costco) ate it.

This week I plan to get some fresh mozzarella or another soft, fresh cheese to slice up in a Caprese Salad. Such a salad needs no introduction, but if you've only had the kind made with storebought cheese and tomatoes, you've actually never had a Caprese. Take it from someone who's been on Capri and groaned my way through the real thing--you need vine-ripened tomatoes and honest-to-goodness fresh cheese and basil and your very best olive oil. Sometimes we sprinkle some balsamic vinegar on, too, but it's totally not necessary if your ingredients are good. Just salt and pepper to taste.

And did you notice we're in that transitional phase? I spied my first apples and pears of the year:

Not that we're anywhere near done with peaches and nectarines and apricots and plums!

When I tasted a nectarine, I did a "nectarine dance." Seriously. No video, but it involved shutting my eyes and hopping up and down. My mouth waters just typing this...

Finally, I think I might get brave enough to give the duck eggs a try. You can find them Saturday, and I heard sales have been slow, maybe because others (like me) have never cooked or baked with them, and feel timid about it. I shouldn't--being from a Chinese background, my mom ate plenty of prepared duck eggs from the store, but the way they were prepared made my American-born nose wrinkle in distaste. Click this link, if you're curious. Duck eggs look far more appealing this way:

Happily in their shells and still chicken-y

I might start easy--go first with substituting them for chicken eggs in baked goods. Maybe in a pound cake, where you want the added richness. For more ideas, PCC had a helpful post. If anyone else gives them a go, let me know!

So we'll see you this Thursday and Saturday, and see what everyone else has on their summer bucket lists.