I love cooking in the summer. I love giving in to the heat, saying, “You win,” letting the sound of popping oil fill the tiny kitchen of my soul.
Right now, my real-life kitchen is brimming with abundance. It is wood-paneled and tiny, small enough to bump the hips of its two inhabitants. It feels even smaller when it bursts with green, like today. One day after market, a speckled blue stock pot, shelled peas: simmering paradise. Food in winter is nourishment; in summer, food is celebration.
In the heat, moisture rises frmom a skillet full of vegetables and it lingers in the room, a fragrant ghost. It fogs the windows, condenses on the wine bottle, sticks to my skin. It makes me aware of my body, every fleshy inch of it. The heat loosens my muscles, makes them easy.
Last summer, at the height of harvest, a friend and I improvised a meal together in an idyllic kitchen deep in the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula. We were house- and dog-sitting for another of her friends, in what turned out to be our separate but shared vision of the cosmic Home.
It was perfect: squat and sprawling with hardwood floors and stone counters, the house itself surrounded by out-buildings and exuberant vegetable gardens. We spent a late afternoon picking peas, green beans, and basil, and swatting away biting flies. The owner’s dogs sat on the porch and watched us, panting.
As we picked handfuls of cherry tomatoes to eat outside, we talked about our senses. The pungency of the herb garden. The dense warmth of tomato skin. The way our bones could settle into chairs across from the fireplace inside every evening, if we lived in this place.
Afterward, we brought our bounty and the dogs into the kitchen, opened two summer beers, and began preparing what would remain my favorite summer meal.
Pizza with Garden Vegetable Sauce
1. Prepare your pizza crust. Pre-made is fine, but I make the following recipe:
Mix 2 c. spelt flour, 1-1/2 tsp. active yeast, 1 tsp. baking powder. Add 1 tsp. honey, 1 TBSP olive oil, and 2/3 c. warm water. Knead, let rise.
2. In a food processor combine: green beans, peas, onion, garlic, olive oil, and feta cheese. To taste. This will be your sauce, so do enough to cover your pizza crust.
3. Roll out pizza dough, if making your own.
4. Top pizza crust with green-veg mixture.
5. Add more feta cheese and tomato slices.
6. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, or per instructions on store-bought crust.