“Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gillyflowers.”

The sun just arrived. The morning had been cloudy, and I was hopeful for some rain, but then I noticed the sunlight. The paper said low 80’s for today. If the breeze stays, though, it will be a lovely day. Last night was chilly for a while then the night breeze disappeared and the evening got warmish again. We dined on the deck. I barbecued a pork loin, and we had potato salad and fruit salad then finished with chocolate chip cookies made by my friend Clare. It was a perfect summer meal.

I don’t remember summer suppers when I was a kid. In the winter my mother cooked everything, meat, potatoes and a vegetable, but our kitchen was small and would get really hot on a summer day if the stove and the oven were used so I figure we had hot dogs or hamburgers and maybe ears of corn. We were big lovers of corn. My dad was the best corn eater, and we loved to watch him mow down the rows as if he were a typewriter. As he ate, small pieces of corn would fly in the air. That always made us laugh. If records for finishing an ear of corn in the quickest time were kept, my father would be high on the list.

After we moved to the cape and had a big backyard, my father barbecued most weekend summer nights. We had your usual menu: potato salad with hot dogs and hamburgers, and for the first time my mother added chicken with barbecue sauce. My father used to take orders for cheeseburgers. My mother made great potato salad. Those were always the best of summer meals.

When I was an adult, my parents no longer lived on the cape. If I visited them in the summer, my father always barbecued. He would sit outside on a lawn chair with a highball in one hand and a cigarette in the other and keep watch on the meat. Over the years the meat menu had changed. My father would barbecue sausages, including Chinese sausages, or steak tips and once in a while pork and chicken. One thing didn’t change: my mother still made her potato salad. I remember those dinners when the table was filled with food and the meat was cooked perfectly. After dinner, we’d sit around the table and play cards, usually High-Lo Jack, until it was really late. I remember the kitchen filled with cigarette smoke, glasses on the table and my father dropping his trump with a flourish and a grin. “Made my bid,” he’d say.

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8 Comments on ““Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gillyflowers.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Cloudy most of the day with strong winds wich made it perfect for walks, unfortunately the wind came from south west wich means it won’t reach my garden. The flies were awful while I cut down lilacs and mowed the lawn. But no biting ones?! I wonder if their season is coming to an end now, I won’t complain if that’s a fact 🙂

    I can’t remember much barbecuing from when I was a kid, at least not in my family. We must have but I just can’t remember it. But I do remember my best friends family doing it, they taught me to eat liver that way 🙂 I didn’t know what I was eating and took extra portions and then I asked what it was 🙂 🙂 I’ve loved liver after that 🙂

    I looked up Poochie Bells and it actually looks like something I’ve seen they use while dancing folk dance over here 🙂 I’ve also seen it on walls as some kind of art I guess 🙂 I’ll start looking for them here now. Thanks for the tip!

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      The sun has been in and out, but there is still a breeze so I’m just fine without the AC. Some of the beaches north of us are suffering from a green fly infestation, and they are horrible!! Luckily they don’t seem to be here.

      Barbecuing is big here in the summer. I can often smell the dinners of my neighbors cooking outside. In Ghana, the local hotel had a restaurant, and they served kebobs with both beef and liver. At first I didn’t know it was liver either. That was the only time I’ve ever liked lit.

      Gracie was trained in no time with those bells. She right away let me know she needed out.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    My father was a great cook as long it involved the backyard and an open flame. Give him a stove in a kitchen and he was at a complete loss.
    Dad started with the usual backyard barbeque fare; hot dogs and hamburgs. His next step was Delmonico steak. He expanded his repertoire to include lobster and steamers which were boiled in clean trash barrels over wood fires sort of like a crab boil. Then he won Dialing For Dollars. The prize was a complete set of wrought iron patio furniture, two redwood chaises longues, a redwood table and a huge barbecue. Forget the furniture, the barbecue was the instant attraction. It had a temperature gauge and multiple vents. It had many levels of rack placement. It was deluxe. My dad was out there every night doing culinary experiments with vegetables, pot roast, chicken, desserts for heaven’s sake. He used actual pots and pans! He never used a cookbook and he never brought any of those skills inside. I think he knew very well that if he did, the cooking would be his job for the rest of his life and he preferred it to be an enjoyable pastime. If we could have gotten the barbecue into the kitchen, it might have been a different story. 😀
    Time or a nap now. I went to sleep at 4 AM because I had to watch Ladyhawke instead of sleeping. Woke up at 7:30 AM. Must. Nap. Now!
    Enjoy the day. It’s lovely up here.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      My father was great at Sunday breakfast, eggs and bacon, but that was the total inside menu he could cook.

      WOW! I don’t know anyone who ever won Dialing for Dollars!! That was a great prize. I’m impressed at your dad’s experimentation with all sorts of food. My dad never had a barbecue that fancy. He used a hibachi for most of the cooking later on though he had a regular barbecue at first. That was when he used to set himself (his shoes usually) on fire from barbecue lighter fluid.

      I remember when everyone had that redwood furniture. My parents also had lounges made of it.

      I also had a nap as I had a bad night’s sleep, was awakened several times. I hope your nap was as restful as mine!!

      Sun was back and forth here, and the day is fairly cool.

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    Our summer eats were up to the kids during the week and the Sunday cookout some times included the rotisserie (sp) wheel with two chickens on it. My Dad loved rotis checken and so did everyone. We picked at the bones. Otherwise it was standard fare until the Commissary had T-bone steak on sale for .99. I won’t forget Dad trying to fit six T-bones on that grill. It was an amazing achievement and each wanted their steak done differently. Another amazing feat. But our teen summers were always filled with jobs we worked, I was a life guard at the pool, my sisters both office help and secretaries. Mom was working at the hospital in those days. So Sunday was family day and we used up every minute.

    • Kat Says:

      My dad didn’t have a rotisserie so he cooked chicken legs, wings or breasts on the grill. I don’t remember steak, just tips.

      I love your father juggling all the different steaks being done differently. That takes talent.

      I didn’t work summers until I was going into college and I worked every summer after that. Because regulars got the weekends off, I had to work weekends, but we were done by 9 so the whole evening was ahead of us.

  4. Bob Says:

    Clear skies and temperatures just below 100 degrees. It’s much to hot to start a fire and cook outside. If you are cooking the meat by direct heat that’s more like grilling than barbecuing. My dad bought an indirect heat smoker in the mid 1950s. He would smoke, ribs, briskets and chicken for hours in the low temperatures. He would marinate the meat in a combination of brown sugar and soy sauce for hours before putting the meat inside the smoker and let hickory or mesquite chips flavor the charcoal smoke. The meat was delicious and tender.

    Barbecue is different everywhere. In Texas barbecue is beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage served with a thick tomato based spicy sauce. In the Carolina’s it’s pulled pork shoulder served with a vinegar based sauce. Memphis barbecue is pork with a crusty rub and thick tomato based sauce. In Brazil it was meat sliced at the table cooked on metal handled shafts. Whenever I eat barbecue I always remember the smokey aroma of the meat my father cooked in our backyard on his fancy smoker.

    • Kat Says:

      I don’t think I would ever see the light to day with temperatures that high every single day. I’d be inside hibernating.

      My brother-in-law has a smoker, and he uses it all the time. He experiments with different sauces and rubs and even does pizza. I have yet to enjoy his culinary delights, but my sister says they are delicious.

      That is so right about barbecue in different parts of the country. To go even further in some places it is a noun and others a verb. Here it tends to be a bit of everything. I have used a sauce and a dry rub. It depends on the meat.

      Memories are so vivid when connected with food.

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