Life comes at you fast in the summer. I have so many things on my summer bucket list that I know if I try to do them all, I’m not going to have any time left to actually enjoy what I’m doing. Add a little sunshine and it seems like everything fun and exciting to do sprouts up at once.
Speaking of sprouting and seasonality, I recently found myself with an overabundance of fresh berries. Like, a lot of berries. Pints and pints of blueberries and strawberries sat in my fridge, gifted from a colleague who had over-prepared for a berry-filled photoshoot. And what do you do when you end up with gift berries? You make jam. Or at least, that’s what I did. Not to be corny, but jam is my current jam. Making preserves and jellies uses up a lot of berries at once, and if you preserve them at their peak ripeness, it’s virtually like capturing summer in a jar. The process is slow and easy, mostly consisting of mixing sugar and fruit together on the stove. My oven is right next to a window, so while I was lazily stirring a big pot of bursting blueberries, I got to enjoy a fresh summer breeze the entire time. The stirring, sweet smells and fresh air was oddly therapeutic. So far that’s my favorite mini moment this summer, and I’m sure my neighbors didn’t mind the rich aromas wafting out my window, either.
Jam is not complicated. In fact, this was only my second time preparing berries like this. We have a really nice jalapeño peach jam recipe, and our friends over at Betty Crocker have an even easier recipe for making freezer jam so you can enjoy summer long into the colder months. Jam it up, friends.
On the topic of capturing the season, we’ve been wrapping some summery packages of our own down in the Tablespoon Kitchens. Our wrapping paper of choice? Aluminum foil. Have you ever made a foil pack for the grill? They’re these perfect little meal packets that are great at sealing in moisture, meaning you end up with really juicy, tender single-serving portions. The containment cooking method of foil packs is unique and a fun experience if you’re not super into grilling, but by far my favorite thing about foil packs is that you can make them ahead of time. Wrap them up in foil and pop them in the fridge before the family show up for an evening of barbecuing, then throw them on the grill when you’re ready to eat. Plus, if you get rained out, most grill packs can be made in the oven instead.
That actually almost happened to us. We had a grilling day planned with our friends at Betty Crocker and Pillsbury to test (and more importantly, taste) some foil pack recipes. Even though dark clouds were threatening us with rain, we take grilling very seriously around here and powered through it. The Betty team went deep on complete dinner ideas, while the Pillsbury people figured out how to convert grill times to oven cooking times. We took the day to figure out how to fold the perfect foil packet, and we made a batch of our favorite upgraded foil pack recipe, coconut curried mussels. Yeah, we’re not afraid to cook seafood on the grill. We’re fancy like that. I mean, summer only comes once a year, so there’s absolutely no point in not going big on everything. Cooking mussels in a foil pack is actually extremely straight-forward. Once you get them in the foil pack, it’s hands-off and straight to the grill, then straight into your mouth. Oh, and you’ll be happy to hear that we finished grilling just before the rain started to pour. It’s like it was meant to be.
There’s so much summering to do still. Pool parties to attend, tents to pitch, beaches to lounge on—it’s a beautiful list that could go on and on. We’re spending the rest of the summer in savor-mode, from completing dessert bucket lists to testing the levels of how adventurous we’re feeling with all this down-time. We’re also going to keep rolling out new recipes all summer long. If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you’ll get a sneak peek of our new recipes once a week—in addition to lots of other dishes and drinks we are really proud of, of course. If you’ve tried any of our new recipes, be sure to drop us a comment about it! We sure do love a compliment. Happy summering!