In Which a Houseguest Inspires Me to Cook Actual Meals in the Summer

Kitchn Diary: Anne in South Carolina

I don't think of myself as lazy, but I might be. Every summer, my cooking habits change. By change, I mean they cease to exist. Dinner could be a plate of pimento cheese and crackers with a side of tomatoes, or a make-it-yourself tomato sandwich bar. And by "bar," I mean, "Look in the fridge, There should be stuff in there for sandwiches, y'all!"

But, this summer, we have a lovely French teen staying with us for a month — and we can't have him thinking Americans eat nothing but snack food, now, can we?

A plate of artichokes with a side of melted butter can be a perfectly acceptable summer meal, at least in my house.

Still hungry? Let mama pour herself a glass of wine and we'll have a cheese course. Still hungry? To quote my own mom, "Eat a piece of fruit." Or more cheese.

But now that G. is visiting, I don't want to give him the impression that Americans snack for dinner, because we don't! Well, we do. Sometimes. Most of the time in summer, but I'm trying. I'm really appreciating frozen meals from my more industrious spring self. Venison spaghetti with salad is a bona fide dinner, and it only took me minutes to make, thanks to the sauce from the freezer.

Alas, I cannot impress our French guest with our youngest son's manners. Only after you snap a picture of your meal do you notice that his napkin is on the table and he is trying to inhale an entire plate of spaghetti in one bite. Lovely.

I'm developing a whole new roster of ten minute meals. Last night, we enjoyed Faith's kale salad with Pecorino and lemon, and a clam pizza. (That salad, by the way, is insanely easy, crazy delicious, and already in our regular rotation. I am about to make it for the third time this week to take to a potluck.) For the pizza, I used a ready made crust — Sami's Low Carb Pizza Crust, lame name, delicious disc o' dough. I spread it with pesto I had made earlier in the week, added clams from the fishmonger, some crumbled bacon, and a little mozzarella. Cook and eat!

I agree with Faith: The French have mastered the no-cook meal. Now that I've proven to our French guest that we know how to sit down to the table with proper utensils and a plan, we'll definitely be exploring our usual no-cook summer scene. I can't wait to introduce him to boiled peanuts as an entree.

How does your meal routine change in the summer? Or, like ours, does it go out the window along with homework, soccer practice, and everything else that requires a scheduled meal at the end of the day?

(Image credits: Anne Wolfe Postic)