We are in the long, hot days of summer here in Marshall. It’s that time of year when we eat a little lighter and include the summer harvest from our backyard gardens and local produce markets on our dinner tables. The good rich soil of Illinois produces bountiful harvests in spring, summer, and fall. Whether you own a farm or just have a tiny area in the backyard where you grow good things to eat, now is the time to reap and sow.
Salads, cold veggie plates, and even lighter soups are what we crave when the temperatures rise. Melons and peaches are ripe and ready to send their luscious juices dribbling down our chins. Kids look forward to ice-cold watermelon slices for dessert. It’s picnic season. Get out the picnic basket and plan a lovely meal of cold chicken, cheeses and tomatoes, slices of summer fruits, and pitchers of ice-cold lemonade. What a great treat for you and your sweetie to take to the Friday night concerts performed by the Marshall City Band downtown or out to the lake at Lincoln Trail Park.
What is in season?
Now is the time to pick tomatoes, peas, spinach, beets, summer squash, and cucumbers. Melons, some berries, and of course, peaches are ripe and ready to eat. Visit the Clark County Farmers Market on the first Friday of the month and get fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, and even organic meats.
Rooster’s Farm Market has sweet summer corn right now as well as great food and lots of produce to purchase.
Fun Summer Meals:
When we think of watermelon, we think sweet treat, but have you ever considered making a watermelon salad for lunch or a side dish with dinner?
Try combining sweet watermelon with the salty and creamy Greek cheese, Feta. You can find it in the cheese section at most grocery stores. Combine cubes of both the melon and the cheese, add cucumber, avocado, mint, basil, even red onion, then toss with black pepper and sea salt. Finish with a squeeze of lime.
Peaches are a fantastic addition to chicken dishes. When cooked down with a bit of balsamic vinegar, they make a fabulous glaze for a whole baked chicken, chicken breasts, or thighs.
Add peaches to your cold chicken salad. Combine chunks of grilled chicken with peaches, blueberries, and pecans. Toss lightly in a little bit of oil and white vinegar and serve over fresh spinach. It’s a meal that won’t weigh you down but will fill you up.
Grilling outdoors is fun this time of year, but why not grill some veggies and fruit too? Grilled peach slices are a unique and delightful topper for that burger or grilled chicken. Summer squash and eggplant on the grill make a great side dish, and nothing tastes better than grilled sweet corn. Grilling tomatoes can be a little tricky, but if you cut your slices thick, brush with oil and salt the slices, a quick turn on the grill will do it.
Tomatoes go with anything. Slice and lightly salt them, drizzle a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and top with fresh basil and cracked pepper, and it’s a meal unto itself. Add some sliced, fresh mozzarella cheese for an Italian treat.
Whatever you’re making, make sure you don’t miss out on the joys of summer fruits and vegetables in Illinois, and include them in every meal.
Now is the time to plan your fall harvest too.
August is just around the corner, and it’s time to plant the bounty you will reap this fall.
In the first week of August, you will want to plan for the short-season crops. These will grow well here in the Marshall, Illinois summer. Plant your snap beans, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and greens like spinach and mustard. You can plant all your lettuces again too. Turnips, beans, and leeks should be planted as well.
Most herbs will grow all year long indoors and outdoors until the frost. If you don’t have room for a garden, you can make a planter box and grow basil, mint, oregano, and parsley. Even peppers and tomatoes can grow in small garden areas.
Whatever you fancy in the way of veggies and fruits, make sure to stay healthy and keep it on the lighter side so you can enjoy the many summer activities Marshall has to offer, from our fantastic town pool to the great parks, lakes, fishing, and hiking in the area.
Aren’t you glad you live here?