August is usually a time when we hand over the cooking duties to a kitchen in a tropical resort, pack a picnic for a lazy lunch by the river, or eat salt and vinegar smothered chips straight from the paper at the beach. It’s a bit different for many of us this year. August is also the month when fresh, often home-grown, produce is ready for picking. So, what are our food bloggers doing to make the most of the weather, the ingredients, and the situation we find ourselves in? We’ve asked a few …
August is birthday month and it’s usually my excuse for meeting as many of my friends as possible. Time for catching up, drinking cocktails, and dining in delicious places.
As with everyone else, this year my plans are somewhat different. And with Manchester’s most recent changes, it’s looking even less likely that anything like normal will go ahead. So instead I’m going virtual. Cocktails with the girls online – delivered from a local bar, maybe a pub quiz or two. A fancy dinner delivered to my door, to be enjoyed with my husband.
And of course, the cake. This year, for once I’ll bake my own. I’m thinking light citrus sponge, whipped cream filling and the best of the season – lots of fresh fruit.
Contributed by Charlie, Gin Fuelled Bluestocking
Picnics in the park
As we enter the final month of Summer and with lockdown measures easing slightly but not far enough for us to start eating out properly, we have decided to make use of the final weeks of sunshine, dry weather, smiles and laughter by doing what we do best: have picnics. We love packing a fun lunch for us and the kids and either spending some time on the balcony, visiting our local park (Hyde Park) or even taking a drive to Virginia Waters in Surrey for a touch of the outdoors while we enjoy our nibbles.
Daddy puts together some homemade sandwiches, healthy fruit and even savoury biscuits for me! We take our favourite blanket, the ipad (of course!) and our toddler’s football to enjoy for an hour or two outdoors. Physical exercise and fresh air is great for everybody – plus it helps de-energize the kids preparing them for a peaceful nap! Get out and about and enjoy the rest of the summer!
Contributed by Monica, Styling Life Today
Supporting local shops and cafes
During August I like to cook with what’s in season, from delicious summer fruits and berries to beans, peas and salad. Anything that can be put together in a hurry is my ideal August cooking; I can spend more time outside and less time in the kitchen! Recipes like Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata (you’ll need some crusty bread to scoop everything up) or Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad (a nice little smoky twist on a classic recipe). Even better are those recipes which require no cooking at all, like my Strawberry and Peanut Tart (with chocolate biscuit base!)
During lockdown we’ve been supporting our local shops as much as possible. I plan to continue doing this and also start visiting my old favourite local cafes; sometimes grabbing a takeaway and sitting in if it’s possible. I’ve found that our local weekly outdoor market is a great place to find delicious ingredients from locally made sausages to the freshest plums.
Contributed by Caroline, All That I’m Eating.
Fruit Cobbler, and allotment pickles and chutney
This month – August I will be baking my new favourite recipe for a fruit cobbler. Firstly, with blackberries from our allotment, then Victoria plums, apples and finally market peaches. This recipe is one from my childhood although I only ever had apple cobbler.
Our allotment gives us loads of vegetables that grow nicely as we eat them like beetroot, spinach, beans but there is always the gluts like courgettes and cucumbers so I will be making pickles, bread and butter pickles, chutneys and relishes.
Also during August we will be spending time at our beach hut on the Suffolk coast and it is always my goal to cook ordinary food not just beans and hotdogs so the first thing I will be cooking is Creamy Paprika Chicken with noodles.
Because this pandemic has meant no travelling I have had loads more time at home to concentrate on baking and perfecting some of my favourite recipes to finally get them on my blog.My recipe for Blackberry Cobbler will be on my blog very soon.
Contributed by Heidi, Kitchen Talk and Travels
Fruit from the garden
I am going to make the most of the glut of fruit growing in my garden this August. I have cooking apples almost ready, plums that will be ready by late August and I have my eye on some huge blackberry bushes that are growing wild in a nearby hedgerow. I am planning to make blackberry wine, plum duff (a family favourite) and many, many pots of plum jam! It gives me great pleasure to make the most of the abundance on our doorstep.
With the cooking apples I am planning to experiment with a slow cooker caramel apple crumble. I have been doing a lot of slow cooker experimentation recently as we are having a new kitchen fitted and I am without a proper oven! Earlier in the year I made elderflower Champagne but left plenty of the blossom to harvest at the end of the month for elderberry cordial.
Contributed by Nikki, Recipe for Home
Simple summer desserts
We really do love a dessert in our house and often if I don’t produce one I am faced with a table full of disappointed faces. But who wants to spend their time in a hot kitchen in the summer? Not me that’s for sure. So, I have a collection of simple summer desserts that are my go-to when I’ve got to get out of the kitchen.
My desserts in summer are all fruit based. I love to take advantage of all the natural sweetness that’s on offer. Strawberries and raspberries are perfect on their own or teamed with banana nice cream (frozen banana whizzed up in the food processor till thick and creamy). Fruit fools are also good and take no time at all to make. Simply mix cooled, cooked fruit puree with whipped double cream or the healthier option, thick Greek yogurt.
Have you tried making your own jelly? It’s easier than you think. Flavoured water with elderflower cordial (maybe a splash of gin for grownups), add in some berries, try white currants, and set with agar agar. Vegan and perfect for everyone to enjoy on a summer’s afternoon.
Contributed by Ruth, EatCartwright
With summer here and having the kids at home a lot over the last few months, I am forever looking to make breakfast and lunch more interesting than the average bowl of cereal or sandwich! We’ve been trying our hand at some really fancy smoothie bowls. They look like a lot of effort but they really only take minutes to make.
The key thing is to always have a stash of frozen bananas in the freezer. These are the best base you could possibly have to get the ultimate gloop. The second-best ingredient is peanut butter and a milk of choice, I tend to use oat milk.
My all-time favourite smoothie bowl is a cacao smoothie bowl. Frozen bananas, peanut butter, cacao powder and maple syrup make up the main part of the bowl. It’s just a matter of whizzing it up and then adding toppings of choice.
To make a smoothie bowl really stand out, add different textures and colours! Seeds, granola and berries for example. It’s such a nice change and perfect in the nicer weather.
Contributed by Gillian, Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas
Traditional Apple Pie
We live in the now-redeveloped grounds of an ex-Victorian hospital – where there remains some established orchards. The soil here loves fruit trees … so in our little garden we have two apples, two pears, a fig, a peach, a plum, a vine and gooseberries. This year, all trees are fully laden in fruit! The apples and pears are particularly impressive, so this August we’re going to be making full use of them. Eating them straight off the tree (via the tap for a wash), preserving lots, and making traditional apple pies – for that day, for the freezer, and for my dad and brother. We have plenty to go round. The pears will be sozzled and poached in wine, and made into chutney. We have so many plans. Luckily we have more than enough fruit too!
Contributed by Tracey, PackThePJs