7.19.2021

The July/August Issue

 "Summer is just a sneeze in a long, bad winter cold," Joni Mitchell once penned. The comparison is especially true in the northeast where cold winds can persist until mid-May and return in earnest by early September. The lesson here: take advantage of those long, languorous summer days before they vanish! While I tend not to read too many magazines during the summer months (too busy swimming, boating, outdoorsing) the one I do read from cover to cover is the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living. I always find at least one great new recipe to add to my repertoire and I am more drawn to the gardening features than I am in any of the year's monthly issues. The 2021 issue is a nice little summary of summery to-dos and must-trys. 

This cover really wooed me with its fresh take on a strawberry pie/pavlova. I knew immediately that I wanted to try to make it, although I haven't quite found the right moment to dive in. I can so easily imagine the light crispness of the meringue shell, the sweet texture of the strawberry filling, the silkiness of the whipped cream and the tartness of the fresh berries. Yum! 
Martha's column expounds on the virtues of one of America's native vegetable crops: okra. I can't say I'm especially fond of this vegetable. The few times I've tried it I have been let down by its tough, stringy texture and somewhat bitter flavour. But maybe I just haven't had it made the Martha way! (She could make shoelaces taste good). I was intrigued enough to read some of the recipes and will consider ordering it again if I ever see it on a menu, although it is not frequently seen in Canada.
A roster of summer Good Things fills this section, including ideas for the Fourth of July, outdoor dining, lawn games and alfresco cooking - including a grilled peach compotes that I've found myself pondering more times than I'd like to admit.




I love the 'tidal cool' of the first half of the Good Living section with its crafty take on bringing the seaside indoors, from DIY shell decorations and wreaths to napkin holders to centerpiece ideas - there's even a shell sconce idea that I thought was rather attractive and unique. 
The garden segment of Good Living was my "learn something new" moment. I had never heard of Monarda before, even though it is a life-giving midsummer bloomer that attracts bees, hummingbirds, song birds and wide-eyed onlookers who will be enchanted by its vibrant colours and stately heights. The plant grows naturally in many areas of North America and is simple to grow and propagate. 
 
The Everyday Food section is a celebration of summer classics, such as the wedge salad, but imagined in new ways to make them a little more flavourful, a little more interesting and a little more enjoyable. Tomatoes, steak, summer cocktails and grilled chicken all make appearances. 
The summer splash page is a lovely welcome to the features section with a bright blue bouquet and a fitting lyric by American songster Van Morrison.
The opening feature is an examination (re-examination, really) of classic sandwiches, elevated and enhanced with new flavour combinations and ingredients, with fresh takes on the turkey club, the peanut-butter and jelly, the best tartines and the most satisfying rolls. I was immediately taken by the fried-fish subs with Thai-style chili sauce and herbs. Yes please!
The editors then take a look at the virtues of bamboo decor, particularly as it relates to outdoor settings: by the pool, on the patio, under a tree or by the lake. It's a simple, sturdy, reliable and handsome addition to any space. I've always loved its understated rusticity and inherently beachy vibe. 
A book excerpt  from "The Maine House" Basha Burwell takes us inside a century-old stone cottage tucked away on Hunting Island, about a five-minute boat ride from Cape Newagen in the town of Southport, about an hour north of Portland. Its remoteness explains its weathered facade and the many ways the owners have enhanced its durability to withstand the harsh elements without sacrificing an iota of its stripped-down beauty.
There's that pie again! It's part of a feature on fruity desserts, from plum tarts to blueberry pies. There's also a chocolate-mousse tart with fresh raspberries that has me a bit fussed. 
The issue closes with a meandering stroll through a beautiful garden in Mountain View, California. Small, private outdoor rooms and wandering pathways that connect them all create an outdoor space that is filled with verdant surprises. 
The Remembering column on the last page is a flashback to Martha in the late 1970s rounding up some gray geese she raised at Turkey Hill. 


JULY/AUGUST ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS

Favourite Good Thing: Quick Peach Compote Dessert Cups, page 21

Favourite Recipe: Strawberry-Lemonade Angel Pie, page 89

Favourite Find: Monarda, page 38

Favourite Feature: "Wander This Way" by Julie Chai and Caitlin Atkinson

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