Weekend Links + Photos: Sweet Summertime

There is a landslide of school supplies taking over our family room floor. Classes start on Tuesday and it’s time to sharpen our focus for another school year.

I’ve never been the mum who gleefully abandons the beach pails and picnic baskets to greet the school bus with cheers. I adore having the children around all summer, despite the challenges of juggling work (me) and play (all of us) for weeks on end, so the end of August is rather bittersweet.

This fall will be extra poignant, as Clara – teeny, tiny, little Clara – will be heading off to kindergarten. It seems like she just turned one not long ago, but that goes to show how quickly they really do grow up.

It’s been an incredible summer though, hasn’t it?

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Fresh tomato + peach Caprese salad with wild blueberries & thyme

I‘ve been enjoying a tomato salad nearly every day this month; it’s effortless eating when the tomatoes are ripening on the vine in my backyard and the kitchen garden is packed with herbs two feet tall.

Often the tomatoes are paired with briny olives and salty feta in an easy Greek salad and other times I dice them up for a Kale Tabbouleh with Cucumber, Mint and Garlic Scapes. Another favourite – and real crowd pleaser – is my Bloody Caesar Shrimp Salad, which combines tomatoes, celery and shrimp into a tangy dish perfect for quick Sunday lunch.

A recent creation that proved to be most delicious was the addition of sliced, fresh Niagara peaches to a Caprese salad. I served this riff on a classic at the start of the harvest dinner we hosted on the homestead a few weekends ago, and promised you the recipe. It’s a salad I serve at every harvest dinner, mostly because it is so delicious when prepared in season, but also because it is very easy.

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How to host a harvest dinner party

An outdoor dinner with friends to celebrate the season, in partnership with Beau’s All Natural.

There’s been a slight chill in the air since we returned home from a road trip through Southern Ontario last week.

While Niagara-on-the-Lake was blistering hot – hot enough to really sweeten the peaches we were picking – I’ve noticed I need to grab a flannel shirt when I’m heading out to the garden in the morning and evenings. The changing weather is just one reminder that summer is slipping away.

Here on the homestead, another sign of the season is our annual harvest dinner. It is summer’s last hurrah, a gathering of close friends for no reason other than celebrating the bounty of August produce.

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Campfire One-Pot Macaroni & Cheese

We’ve been road tripping through the blistering hot Niagara region of Ontario for the past week, visiting friends, picking stone fruits and enjoying plenty of beach time.

This easy pasta has come in handy for a quick meal when we have returned to our Airbnb hungry after a day of exploring. In the past I’ve always relied on the one-pot dish for camping trips, but it is a good recipe to have in your back pocket for any time you need a fast – and comforting – meal.

Here I’ve included photos of the Dutch oven campfire macaroni & cheese, but you can also prepare it in a heavy bottomed pot in your own kitchen.

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Do-Ahead Cider Ribs

I‘m furiously trying to wrap up about six deadlines to clear my schedule for our vacation next week, but I had to leave you with this recipe for ribs.

I served up a mammoth platter of sticky, cider-braised, barbecued-finished ribs to friends at our recent Canada Day party. And they were a massive hit. And it was my first time to ever – ever– prepare ribs. So I’m here to tell you, this is not only a great recipe for entertaining, but it’s also one for the novice rib cook.

Along with the rib recipe, I’ve included a peek at our menu for the party. It was super easy to pull together; keep reading and you’ll see why.

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