Summer Solstice 2014

Happy first day of summer! Summer solstice! The longest day of the year! I know for me, summer excites my taste buds. Farmer's markets, fresh local produce, budding vegetable gardens, a surplus of fresh herbs, blazing hot grills, late night meals on the patio complete with candles glowing - and the list could go on...I don't know what summer may mean to you but to me, it means eating!

This morning Braxton and I spent some time on our sunny patio and perused cookbooks for inspiration while sipping on a variation of my vegan kick-start shake. Okay, well that's what I did. He mostly watched for squirrels and birds to (wishfully) catch.

As I sat on the patio, I admired how well my teeny-tiny garden has been growing. The basil plant booming into a bush already. Numerous yellow tomato blossoms and two little green tomatoes. And I can tell the English cucumbers are just going to take over the space, as they're already spilling over and outside of their designated area of the garden. This year is going to be fruitful!

How do you go about your summer meal planning? Is it much more relaxed than the rest of the year? For our family, I find that each menu is an assault on our senses - vibrant colors, fresh flavors, bright scents...I cannot wait to start cooking this summer's bounty!

So far this week I have four menu items and may be just hitting the market to see what else might be yummy and in-season.

Grilled zucchini with green olives, cilantro and tomato

Polenta and orange salad with fennel salsa

Heirloom tomatoes with grilled shiitakes and freshly made green goddess

Cactus tacos

As always menu suggestions are always welcomed! What are you cooking this week?