Good morning. It’s been a harrowing end to the month. Most of New Orleans woke up without power after Hurricane Ida pummeled the coast of Louisiana, and it seems especially cruel after a summer already rife with climate-related disasters. Wherever you are, stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones. We’ll be here when you’re ready to cook again.
This last week of August marks the traditional (if not official) end of summer. Although corn and tomatoes won’t just disappear after Labor Day, it sort of feels that way. Which means it’s time to take stock, and ask yourself some essential produce-related questions.
Have you eaten enough tomato sandwiches this summer? How about corn on the cob? If not, now is the time to set things straight. I’d start with this clever cacio e pepe variation (above) by Emily Fleischaker, which is on my urgent to-do list.
Or you can cut your corn off the cob and use it to make Lidey Heuck’s speedy crab and corn pasta, which will eliminate the need for dental floss immediately after your meal. There’s also Vallery Lomas’s elegant take on succotash, with sausage and shrimp. The recipe calls for okra, which I’ve never added to succotash but sounds divine. And okra takes a star turn in Yewande Komolafe’s bright and limey sazón-spiced shrimp and okra. For okra aficionados, the playful slipperiness is part of its appeal. Here’s an okra secret: Sometimes, when I’m slicing okra pods, I’ll dip them in salt and eat them raw. Try it before you knock it.
August is nearly over and I still haven’t made Sam’s tomato and watermelon salad, a summer tradition of mine since he first wrote about it in 2013. You can even skip the feta. It’s nice if you have some on hand, but not essential. To me, the genius part of the recipe is the electric shock of sherry vinegar, which is exactly what all that juicy sweetness needs to stay in line.
And speaking of juicy sweetness, are you a peach person or a nectarine person? I used to be team nectarine, but recently I’ve gone head over heels for the mini white doughnut peaches I’ve been buying at the farmers’ market. You need to eat at least three of them at a time to get their full effect, so I buy them by the quart rather than the pint.
You could also use them — or any kind of stone fruit — to make Alexa Weibel’s new kale and peach salad with crispy cornbread croutons. And David Tanis’s nectarine-raspberry cobbler with ginger biscuits is a fine thing to do with any overly ripe fruit that might be leaking all over your counter. Making Yossy Arefi’s blueberry-speckled nectarine galette is another.
And of course, stone fruit also pair well with chicken (hi chicken, I see you). So grill some chicken and peaches, the thighs marinated in balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and ginger until they get a little sticky, the peaches brushed with honey and thyme. For a stone-fruitless chicken dinner, there’s Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s classic chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice from their cookbook, “Jerusalem.”
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