Summertime Foods Bring Nostalgia

Summertime foods can be very nostalgic. Our readers share a few of their favorite summertime memories from their childhood.

Summertime Food Nostalgia

Memories of Summer Food

Summertime is here! It brings with it fresh tomato sandwiches, cold sweet tea, fried catfish, and so much more. When I reflect on all my summers it can stir such nostalgia in me. The summer season invites us to make so many memories that involve food. As a kid, I’m not sure there was anything better than my Mom hiring someone to watch our country store on a Sunday afternoon and all of us taking off in the big station wagon to the creek. We would head off on a Sunday drive by first stopping at another local country store, and each of us got our fried chicken boxes. We would always end up by the creek, eating fried chicken and cooling off from a hot day. I also have fabulous memories of my great Aunts coming up every summer from Mississippi to stay at my grandparents’ farm. I can still see all the ladies in the kitchen cooking up dinner.  My grandmother frying squash from the garden and boiling water to make the corn on the cob. A big container of sliced cucumbers in vinegar waiting in the fridge. Gosh, I just loved it!

My husband talks about all the times his family made homemade ice cream in the summertime. My mom has many fond memories of family reunions and all the great food her momma would make. She said her father always had a watermelon waiting for everyone to enjoy. These memories can only be made in the summer, and I think that anytime you build an experience around food….it sticks with you.

We invited our readers from Instagram and Facebook to share some of their favorite food memories with us.

  @erinaddington77: Summer is boiled peanuts on the beach, a million percent! It’s one of my most favorite things to eat, and the second you smell them cooking, I’m taken right back to childhood and smelling the peanuts my mom boils at the beach, and at home, as often as possible during the summer when the peanuts are green and sweet!  

  @jeanniemacalik: My dad hand cranking homemade ice cream on the front porch.. Cutting up a big watermelon and picking peaches and plums off the fruit trees in the back yard.. so sweet and delicious.. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and fresh green beans and corn on the cob.. pinto beans and cornbread which I still love to this day.. I can’t cook as good as my mom and my Aunts did.. but I learned from the best.. I try!! Takes me back to those happy times.. the best days ever!

@elgenacovigt: We went to Tybee Island and ate seafood. We saw this place that looked like the Munster lived there.. No grass and the parking lot was dirt. Reluctantly we went in. Best seafood every. Big platter of seafood boil. A deck over the water, a fat cat, an old sink nailed to a tree to wash your hands in.

@ohiobrowneyedbbw: Going out to the vegetable garden with my Grandfather and eating tomatoes off the vine. You wipe off any dirt on your shorts , take a bite, salt it and eat.

Getting our garden ready for Summer!

@marthadominguewilliams: Every summer my mom bought bushels of fresh okra and fresh corn. My siblings and I would sit at the kitchen table shucking corn and slicing okra. Then we would take the corn, cut the kernels off and “milk” the cob into a bowl. Mom and our housekeeper would put the corn and onions and tomatoes in a huge magnalite pot and make maque choux. They’d take the sliced okra and smother it down with onions, tomatoes and seasoning. Then they’d put okra and corn in small containers to freeze. (No ziplocks back then!) We’d eat the maque choux throughout the year. The okra was eaten as a side dish and saved for winter time to add to the gumbo. Great memories!”

@quilterwoman: “Going for a ride on Sunday, cause that’s what you did. Stopping at a little mom and pop store to get a ring of baloney, a hunk of cheese saltine crackers and we each picked out a pop. My fav was strawberry. Then off we’d go down the road and my mom made little cracker sandwiches while dad drove.”

@aka_grana: “My grandmother would make homemade vanilla ice cream & add Grape Nuts to it. It was delicious. That goes back 40+ summers. I miss those carefree days.”

@msannbutts: “Every summer my Daddy would plant a gigantic garden! Lots of days were spent in front of the tv shelling peas and butterbeans!

@pauletteajones: “One of my favorite memories is of my Mom stringing beans on the porch and hanging them up to dry!”


Kara Brooks: “Every Friday afternoon, when my mom picked me up from the sitter, we’d stop at the Junior Food Store on the way home and get a hunk of fresh cheddar from the wheel. Then have cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Eileen Welch: “Going to my grandmother’s house every summer and eating “Grandma’s donuts.” I discovered years later after I had my own kids her donuts were actually made from a mix ordered from a restaurant in New Orleans. I also used to watch her “make something out of nothing.” She would tell me stories of how and why she did while she was cooking. For example, I asked her one day why she put eggs in her milk gravy. She said when you have 7 kids to feed and only 2 eggs and a glass of milk, you make biscuits and gravy using milk and eggs. That way everyone gets some.”

Dena Martin: “I come from a very large family (8 sisters and 2 brothers) so there wasn’t a lot of money to go around. We made everything from scratch, including our bread. Beginning in spring and ending in the late fall, we would go to various farms to pick produce for canning and freezing. It would take forever to pick flats of blueberries! It was hard work, but everyone in our family had a role in our production assembly line. Good memories.”

Julie McCoy: “Going to my grandma’s house and picking Blackberries, and then she would make a huge cobbler, and she always had fresh cream, from her cows, to go on top. Yummy, and priceless memories.”

Barbara Thomas: “I was born on the 4th of July, and for years, I thought everyone was celebrating my birthday. We had a family reunion at the lake, and we had a lot of food. I remember my Mom making the best pie, and my Aunt making the best cake. We had swimming, horseback riding, horseshoe throwing, kickball, canoe riding, fireworks, etc. It was so much fun, and there was always a big birthday cake.

Cheri Hoffman: “My mother’s Homemade vanilla ice cream with my father’s homegrown strawberries served at our annual 4th of July party with aunts, uncles and 20 plus cousins. She made numerous canisters! In fact, a couple of weeks ago, a cousin mentioned that it was one of her favorite family memories.

Debbie Emerson: “My grandparents planted a huge garden every summer. I loved helping my gramps pick and gather the veggies from the garden and later helped granny snap beans, shuck corn and shell peas. I was always amazed at how fast she and Gramps could work through mounds of produce. These are some of my best memories from my childhood summers.”

Theralyn Soule: “My grandfather would BBQ a goat every summer & all of the family would come & enjoy all of the wonderful food & visit for hours. I remember drinking cold iced tea out of orange juice cans (they used to be metal) & making ice cream in an old-fashioned crank ice cream maker. The kids would take turns sitting on the ice cream maker so it wouldn’t move. The final product was delicious. The men would pitch washers into cans buried in the ground. I sure miss those days & the loved ones who are no longer with us.”

Mary Gregory: “Sitting under a shade tree with my mom snapping green beans and shelling peas. We had gone to the farmer’s market that morning and had to get this chore done before supper. With newspaper in our laps and paper sack between us we would work under the shade.”

Ripley Wagner: “I was raised by my grandmother and one of my favorite memories is sitting on the back porch shelling peas as evening set in. We had a large field of sunflowers next to us and the garden in front of us. The sounds of the crickets, the smell of earth and growing things scenting the air along with the feeling of the cool, crisp peapods is something I cherish. My grandma passed away years ago but I still have those evenings.”

You may also want to read Tobacco Fields and BLTs.

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