For me, the seasons of New England aren’t just about changing temperatures and landscapes. They’re about flavors. The most delicious, mouth-watering flavors that you can imagine. But since my cooking passion is baking – and there are only so many cookies, cakes, and pies that one
should can eat in one sitting – I sadly often miss the flavors that belong to a particular month.
For example, one can bake blueberry muffins at any point in the year. But in August, a girl can pick her very own, plump blueberries – the sweetest and juiciest possible – and turn those into the most fresh, tender muffins imaginable. (It also doesn’t hurt that food purchased in-season also tends to be much more affordable).
And is it just me or does pumpkin somehow taste that much better once the leaves have begun to change color?
Sometimes, flavors just taste best when served in the right month. I couldn’t tell you why. It’s just the way it is.
I went blueberry picking this morning, and I stared at the large bowl of berries in my hands… and I wanted to panic. How does one choose what to make with such fresh, sweet fruit? How could I decide between blueberry pancakes, pie, crumble, crisp, bread, donuts, cupcakes or even cheesecake? Of course, there’s even the delicious – but healthier – option of simply tossing a handful of the berries into a bowl of cereal and milk.
So many endless possibilities! So little time before they would need to be eaten or frozen.
“Don’t forget about blueberry buckle,” my mom reminded me, as I began to recite all of the blueberry possibilities out loud. “Blueberry buckle is really good too.”
*Insert photo of me screaming, waving my hands in the air, and running through the blueberry fields like a crazy person*
And then it hit me.
Time and time again, I wait until last minute, and then I realize that the season for one of my favorite flavors is over. (Sometimes, that ends with my not having made even one recipe with my favorite seasonal flavors). But really, all that could change if I came up with a flavor of the month! If every month had a flavor to focus on, I would be a little more decisive when it came time to bake, and I’d be sure to use my favorite flavors in season.
For example… I remember that, when I was growing up, I could have told you what season we were in, just by the types of foods my mom was baking. To this day, zucchini bread signifies the end of summer, apple pie announces the arrival of fall, and pumpkin bread sings that the leaves are falling and soon-enough snow will be too.
So I did it! I began a list of flavors for each month (hopefully most of them correspond to the correct seasons they best fit with). My goal is to make one tried-and-true recipe each month that I absolutely have to bake (like strawberry shortcakes or pumpkin pie), and then to make one new recipe too (should I have the time). I decided to add in a few seasonal, savory flavors as well; because I don’t want to miss out on those favorites! (Of course, a few months have more than one flavor, so I’ll just use the list as flavor inspirations to guide me when I’m picking out something to bake or cook. AND this is a list-in-process, as I may have to adjust flavors to better match each month as it comes). 🙂
Think I can do it?
At the very least, I put a list together… and – well – you all know how much I do love a good list! But the main thing is that it will encourage me to bake at least one dessert – or to cook up one meal – that includes some of my favorite seasonal flavors. And documenting it will help me try new things each time, instead of panicking about not being able to fit everything in at once.
ALSO, my goal is to print out my favorite recipes and put them into a binder, so that – when a particular season hits – I’ll have tried-and-true recipes at my fingertips. (If I’m feeling particularly motivated, I may even write up a little paragraph about who I ate the food with and also may include a photo of the occasion. But no promises…). 😉
I just think that it would make for a wonderful keepsake of favorite, family recipes! Hmmmm, this is kind of sounding like a fun (and delicious) scrapbook project. 🙂
(Oh, but I need flavor inspiration for April. Ideas, please!! Also, did I forget any important flavors / seasonal foods that just have to be included? I definitely feel as though I might have left some out).
FLAVORS OF THE MONTH – Sweet and Savory
January – Cinnamon / Cranberries
February – Oatmeal
March – Bananas
May – Lemon
June – Strawberries
July – Watermelon / Cherries / (Does ‘grilled food’ count as a flavor? Ha, ha)
August – Blueberries / Corn / Zucchini / Basil
September – Peaches / Rosemary
October – Apples / Maple syrup / Butternut squash
November – Pumpkin / Gingerbread
December – Chocolate (obviously) / Peppermint