Summer suds: Lagers offer easy drinking with clean, simple flavors

Firestone Lager” width=
Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Lighter beers that are low in alcohol, such as Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Firestone Lager, are sometimes known as “lawnmower” beers because of their refreshing character after an afternoon of yard work.

More and more craft brewers have recently been creating lagers as refreshing, easy-drinking alternatives to the IPAs that have dominated craft brewing for so long.

Lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast that ferments at much cooler temperatures than ale yeast, and they are difficult to make well because the clean, simple flavors very quickly reveal any flaws that are present.

Garden recipes and meal planning start the school year off right

Cherry Tomatoes” width=
Courtesy of Christine Moore
Homegrown tomatoes can be used in a variety of summer recipes, including Christine Moore’s Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta.

It’s a time of ripening. Tomatoes, corn, squash and melon are reaching full readiness at seemingly the precise same moment in our backyard vegetable boxes. After months of watering and waiting, it feels nearly miraculous that there is actual food on the vines. Or perhaps that is just the awe of a mediocre-at-best gardener.

Indoors, things are reaching a more complete state, too. Kids, ripe from a summer of equal parts adventure and boredom, are at their peak condition for taking on a new year of school.

Apricot Blackberry Kuchen


The recipe I share below for Apricot Blackberry Kuchen comes together in a few minutes and makes a colorful show of these peak of summer fruits. Cornmeal gives this Austrian coffee cake a slightly sandy texture. Fresh apricots and blackberries share the limelight in a delicious morning or mid-afternoon snacking cake.

 

Apricot heaven arrives this month


Photo by Eric Larson/Special to the Town Crier
Blenheim apricots grow throughout the Santa Clara Valley and can be made into many foods, including jams.

California’s favorite fruit, the Blenheim apricot, will arrive in local markets by mid-July. The Blenheim has the power to enchant adults and children alike with its gorgeous color, sweet perfume and perfectly balanced sweet/tart flavor. Jams, nectar, syrup, pies and pastry reach perfection with this variety of apricot, which is uniquely adapted to the Bay Area’s moderate coastal climate.

A top crop: Finding valley's heritage fruit


Jessica Yager/Special to the Town Crier
Lisa Price Newman showcases the versatility of apricots in her cookbook.

When Lisa Prince Newman demonstrated apricot recipes at the Los Altos History Museum’s Apricot STEM Fair June 30, she pulled fruit from a lug just harvested down the road in the Sunnyvale Heritage Orchard.

Since her book “For the Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of the Santa Clara Valley” came out last year, Newman has become an informal expert on when and where to find the heritage fruit of the region.

Summer specials: soup, sauce and smoothie

It’s time to indulge in the abundance of summer produce. My “Cooking Simply” column means just that – simple and easy. Following are three ways to indulge without drama.


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