July is birthday month – my mother, grandmother, nephew Caleb, and the United States of America, to mention a few. For all the times we get together, again it’s my ever resourceful friend Wendy, she of the home-grown curry leaves I tossed with these curried cashews, who offered me an idea that has really taken my fancy.
Whether it is a birthday, a picnic, or an intimate tête-à-tête in the garden, this is a relaxed way to slip into the sumptuous of summer. You just pick up an apple slice, a celery stick, a super seed cracker or a piece of french sourdough and drag it through the spread.
It’s like a playful, tactile, Jackson Pollock-y splash of edible beauty, artful yet simple to prepare. Choose a spread, smear it across a slab of marble or a large serving tray, and surround it with bread, crackers, fruit and vegetables. In assembling, I thought of it as a still life, considering color, texture, and height, but also ease of reach.
Consider this a shared “plate.” Connecting, inspiring, celebrating: easy conversations, shared tastings, and that sweet summer gift of slowing down.
Which is what I think July is all about.
A Summer Garden Spread
Your choice of:
Vegan Cheesy Spread (recipe below)
Almond Butter and Homemade Cherry Jam (recipe below)
Petals of Lavender, Violet, Marigold
Torn leaves of Rosemary, Basil, Dill
Smear your spread of choice on a slab of marble, or a large serving plate. Sprinkle the florals and herbs. Assemble your bread, crackers, apples and celery around the spread. Hug everything in, and load up. Abundance, generosity, beauty are the qualities of nature. Let your tray sing of nature’s bounty.
Vegan Cheesy Spread
Makes 1 cup
1 c Tofu
1 T Tofu water (from the container)
1 T Shoyu
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 t Nutritional Yeast
Put everything in a bowl. Mash and mix with a fork. Loosely cover and let stand overnight. In the morning, put this in an electric blender and mix until smooth. Let set in your refrigerator for an hour, or until serving.
Delicious with gently mashed avocado.
With cherries, strawberries, blueberries, apples and almond butter you can make up a playful tray for children (and their grown-ups).
Alongside this streak of almond butter dappled with golden marigold petals is a stripe of quick and easy, home-made cherry jam.
Home-made Cherry Jam
Makes 1 cup
1 cup washed and pitted cherries
1 T juice of a fresh lemon
1 t psyllium husk
option: dash cinnamon or cardamom
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend gently until you have the consistency you want. I like it a bit chunky so only pulsed 5-6 times.
Put in a glass bowl or jar and cover. Use immediately, or keep refrigerated to last a week.
Happy 4th, Happy July, Happy birthday Mom!
What are you loving about this season? What is currently making your heart sing? Please share. And if you like these ideas, please share on social media using the hashtag #myfoodlovestory so we can find it and share too. Thank you & Namaste!