I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve been feeling a bit conflicted about apples.
Have you seen them in the farmer’s markets in the last week or so? Bins of early apples nestled up alongside the summer squash and cherry tomatoes and big bunches of basil?
I have… and my first thought (Apples! I love apples!) was immediately followed by the realization that apples herald the coming of autumn. Another burst of excitement (Autumn! I love autumn! — and I do, in all of its roasted squash, clove-scented kitchen, crisp afternoon and brisk blue sky-glory), was too soon followed by guilt (is a love of autumn a betrayal of summer?) and a final realization that my beloved autumn is too soon followed by the dreaded winter: dreary, dark, dismal winter.
Between Thanksgiving and the holiday season, November and December are alright, but around February things are starting to feel quite bleak. By the time March finally rolls around with its lingering dirty patches of snow and slush and freezing rain, I’m already chomping at the bit for warmer weather and longer days and GREEN… but March is an interminable month, and often taunts us with a couple of warm days in the third week only to pitch us back into arctic temperatures just in time for the start of April, sometimes just in time to cruelly bury the first few crocus buds in a new layer of sleet or snow.
You see now why I’m so conflicted about the arrival of apples.
And so, in a desperate attempt to enjoy these last few weeks of summer, I’ve eaten more tomatoes and peaches than should reasonably fit inside a person. More importantly, I have been out and about, spending as much time in the parks, on the grass, swimming at the beach, lazing in the hammock, as I possibly can.
All that doesn’t leave much time for cooking… or (between all those peaches and tomatoes) a whole lot of room in the belly for much else. And so, today I am going to share something that is a light, healthy, eat-and-go (and picnic-friendly) sort of food so you can get out of your kitchen and into the park, or the beach, or… pretty much anyplace that is not your kitchen.
I stumbled into this one, but it was so delicious that I had to eat it all in one sitting and then make a double batch of it to eat all week just couldn’t wait to share it with you! I’m calling it “chive cream”. Here’s how it happened:
A few nights ago I found myself with a fridge full of crunchy vegetables (best eaten raw) and a container of plain yogurt. (This happens to me a lot, actually.)
It being dinnertime, I wasn’t in the mood for honey or granola with my yogurt, and me already being five minutes late to a happy hour date, I didn’t have time to cook anything. I rummaged around my fridge and, finding a lemon, decided to try turning the yogurt into a sort of dip for the raw veggies.
The lemon juice alone didn’t do the trick, but after another rummage and a bit of tinkering, I discovered that a little bit of mayo and a generous addition of freshly snipped chives turned my yogurt into a cool, creamy, savory, healthy treat. That night it served as a tangy protein-packed dip for my celery, carrots and bell peppers. The next day at lunch, it was a tasty topping for my halved hard-boiled egg, and this past weekend — thinned out with a touch more lemon juice — it became a creamy-yet-healthy dressing for my salad of spinach, lambs-quarter and cherry tomatoes. Next up I want to try adding in some chopped dill and fresh cracked pepper and using it to dress a green salad with cucumbers and thinly sliced red onion. Maybe I’ll even throw in a few thin slices of that green apple I couldn’t resist buying the other day at the market.
. . .
[Okay, so I wasn’t going to tell you… but — oh, the guilt! The skeleton in my closet! I couldn’t bear lying to you: I had to get it off my chest. Please don’t judge me.]
As tasty and versatile as it is, I suspect there are many more uses for this chive cream yet to be discovered. What will you come up with?
Chive Cream (makes everything better):
- Roughly 1 cup plain, strained “Greek” yogurt (I used a 6oz container of 2% Chobani)
- 2 spoonfuls mayonnaise (or to taste)
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- a few dashes or 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- one good handfull of chives, finely snipped (roughly 1/4 cup)
Combine everything, stir together well, and taste to adjust seasonings (adding more lemon, mayo, salt etc as desired). Either serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.
Now get out of here — seriously. Go run through a sprinkler or something.