Pep­pery foods have been a part of the human diet for more than 8,000 years.

Long before the ancient Greeks and Romans gave mon­e­tary value to pep­per­corns, South Amer­i­can Indi­ans were eat­ing fiery hot wild chili pep­pers.

Chilies were eaten in Mex­ico, Brazil and Peru 6,000 years B.C. and were one of the first domes­ti­cated plants in the New World.

The love affair with chili pep­pers con­tin­ues. Most of us asso­ciate chili pep­pers with vary­ing degrees of heat. Super­hot chili pep­pers go beyond habanero pep­per heat and sur­pass 350,000 Scov­ille Heat Units.

Any num­ber of vari­eties of these super­hots have sur­passed two mil­lion Scov­ille Heat Units. Treat these pep­pers with the utmost respect when han­dling or cook­ing with them.

Read more: PPP…Peppers! →

Zuc­chini and other sum­mer squash vari­eties seem to be every­where. What are we wait­ing for such a squash sur­plus at our fin­ger­tips?

If pasta noo­dles are on the table at least once a week, this is the best sea­son to go for a light­ened up ver­sion with noo­dles cen­ter­plate.

Alfredo, mari­nara and pesto clas­sics make for irre­sistible sauces on top of squash noo­dles.

Grain free squash cut in either wide rib­bons or curly or flat thin noo­dles beckon to kitchen enthu­si­asts to explore all options. A sim­ple dressed up top­per of mint, basil, gar­lic and lemon juice keeps life sim­ple.

Asian noo­dle bowls are a world apart from Italy. Pad Thai, lo mein, stir fries and broth­ier dishes meant to be slurped give way to robust flavors.

Read more: Lighten Up! →

We’re com­pletely used to see­ing fresh pro­duce in vivid and some­times unusual col­ors.

Even so, when the flesh of a water­melon sur­prises us with a bright yel­low inte­rior, rather than the req­ui­site pink or red, it’s excit­ing.

Water­melon is that ancient half fruit, half veg­etable thing with likely orig­i­na­tion from the Kala­hari desert of Africa.

5,000 year old Egypt­ian hiero­glyphs depict water­melon images. By sym­bol­i­cally bury­ing the dead with water­melon, loved ones were thought to be nour­ished in the after­life.

Rich in anti-​inflammatory nutri­ents, water­melon is over 90% water and con­tains abun­dant elec­trolytes. This com­bi­na­tion is what is extremely hydrat­ing in hot weather con­di­tions. Color is optional.

Read more: Moonbeam →

By def­i­n­i­tion, a true tonic invig­o­rates, restores, refreshes or stim­u­lates. Sounds good, right? Par­tic­u­larly when the mer­cury is high and energy lev­els are low.

Let’s not men­tion alco­hol nor so called “mock­tails” here. A really authen­tic tonic stands on it’s own mer­its.

Amer­i­cans as a whole know how to over-​indulge. It makes sense that a new gen­er­a­tion back­lash aims to eat less, stay healthy and pay close atten­tion to con­sump­tion.

Inclined to drink to their own health, Mil­len­ni­als know when it’s time to pass on a craft beer or vin­tage glass of wine. Mind­ful­ness has an appeal that stay­ing sober sup­ports. Enter sum­mer ton­ics.

Non-​alcoholic drinks no longer stand as merely a glass full of club soda with a lime wedge. Adult bev­er­ages should feel like a cel­e­bra­tion as we keep our wits about us.

Read more: Sum­mer Tonics →

Not every­one is blessed with the tal­ents of a great pas­try chef. A chem­istry class at times seems eas­ier than fol­low­ing an elab­o­rate dessert recipe.

Not to worry. That same casual approach to sum­mer din­ing allows for sweet for­give­ness when it comes to summer’s famed desserts.

Pair­ing the best exquis­ite sea­sonal fruits with the sim­ple, rus­tic meth­ods of care­free desserts require almost no kitchen skills.

Light-​hearted clas­sics include fruit galettes, clafoutis, crisps and cob­blers.

The impre­cise, free-​form galette is more of an imper­fectly shaped pie or tart — filled with the good­ness of sliced berries, cher­ries, peaches, nec­tarines, plums, pears, apri­cots, apples, rhubarb or any com­bi­na­tion of on-​hand sum­mer fruits. The dough is folded in on itself giv­ing it an irreg­u­lar, but entic­ing look to the pastry.

Read more: Sweet Forgiveness →

Grilling, smok­ing and bar­be­cu­ing are all pre­ferred meth­ods of sum­mer­time cook­ing.

If you are the cook, you have a “secret sauce” of some kind in the out­door cook­ing arse­nal. Shar­ing it with oth­ers depends on how close to the vest you want to play it.

Those of us merely the lucky recip­i­ents of good food cooked by oth­ers can only imag­ine what goes into the secret sauce. A hint of honey, a hit of ginger…sweet apri­cots or plums all just a guess.

Mas­ters of mari­nades and glazes typ­i­cally have a “go to” one that can be applied to a choice of poul­try, fish, pork, beef or veg­eta­bles. Divulging any fam­ily recipes might be tricky.

A quick inter­net search results in thou­sands of rec­om­men­da­tions for rich, lusty, sticky sauces that can be appro­pri­ated as our own.

Read more: Secret Sauce →