“June is bustin’ out all over” finally! We are really late this year with Spring, but now that the temperatures are starting to soar, everything is really going to town. All sorts of birds are visiting our bird feeders and I spotted a beautiful male Scarlet Tanager this morning–a rarity. Fruit trees are in full swing, lilacs are scenting the air and we ate a batch of morels last night.
June is rose month and dairy month–some old stand-bys–as well as the month of graduations, weddings, Father’s Day and Flag Day. All occasions for celebration and celebratory food.
The Romans were particularly fond of roses and many of our expressions about roses come from them. Their banquet couches were strewn with petals, hence the expression “bed of roses”. A rule of silence was in order under a rose garland so we get “sub rosa”. Few people know that roses are edible flowers and you can make a delicious jam from rose petals.
Alas that Spring should vanish with the rose
That youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows?
It is very appropriate that so may people get married in June because the Roman goddess Juno, from whom it gets its name, was the patroness of marriage and the special guardian of women and childbirth. Fathers, too, then are appropriately celebrated.
All these occasions and the just plain joy of the month when “then, if ever, come perfect days”, can be celebrated with wonderful seasonal foods. The featured foods for this month are peas, strawberries and all things dairy. One of my favorite early summer recipes is creamed new peas over tiny new potatoes. Both the peas and the potatoes are best coming right from your garden, of course, but if that’s not possible you can get them at a farmer’s market or even your supermarket. I don’t have a vegetable garden yet, but my grandma Dean (my Dad’s mother) did–a huge one. This was my Dad’s favorite recipe, too!!!
Rose Petal Jam
This is a beautiful delicate treat, fragrant and very sweet–a Victorian tea specialty. It tastes divine with thick Devonshire cream on warm scones–only a tiny amount is needed. Can also be used as a filling for sponge cakes. Damask roses give the most aromatic jam.
4 cups rose petals taken from your favorite rosebush
2 1/4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh water
Cut away the bottom of each petal, (can make jam bitter). Place in a large kettle and pour over the water. Heat very gently for 30 minutes to extract the color and fragrance and then remove the petals and put aside. Add sugar and lemon juice to the pan and make sure all the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly, allowing most of the liquid to evaporate. When you have a very thick syrup, put the petals back and stir through the mixture. As only a small amount of the jam is used a a time, it is better kept in small 4-oz jars
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
New Peas and Potatoes
2 pounds of tiny new potatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen small peas
Boil new potatoes with skins on just until tender when pierced with a fork.
Pour shelled peas into small amount of water in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil; add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Simmer for 6 minutes. Drain.
Make a medium white sauce : 2 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp, salt and dash pepper. Melt butter in heavy saucepan; add flour and whisk until well blended. When thick but not brown, add 1 cup rich milk (4%) or half and half slowly, whisking continually.
Add drained and cooked potatoes and peas to white sauce. Heat briefly; serve warm.
Father’s Day has to be the easiest celebration meal of all time. Simply buy the best steaks you can and set up your grill. Make a good coleslaw, cook corn on the cob either on the grill or in the kitchen. French bread with garlic butter and strawberry shortcake should do it. Watermelon may replace the shortcake if that’s a preference. In my experience, men usually prefer straightforward and relatively simple fare. My apologies to the gourmand among you dads.
That brings us to Flag Day which calls for a simple but spectacular flag cake. A lovely white sheet cake frosted with whipped cream and, using fresh blueberries and fresh strawberries to make the stars and stripes. Simple. Delicious.
Weddings and graduations are in a class by themselves and deserve a column of their own–!