The U.P.’s home-grown delicacies

Karen Wils photo A garden harvest squash, berries and beans.

ESCANABA — Summer food is sooo good!

From s’mores cooked over the campfire to veggie kabobs on the gas grill, it’s hard to beat summer cuisine.

U.P. home-grown delicacies like succulent dilled salmon, fresh corn on the cob, garden beans and carrots, and wild raspberry pie are meals fit for a king or queen!

Summer has a taste all of its own. Ask any kid to list his or her favorite flavors of summer and they might say “Hot dogs on a stick, slightly blackened” or “Mackinac Island fudge ice cream.”

Adults might reply “a vine-ripened tomato; new, red potatoes; Michigan cherries and steaks on the grill.”

Karen Wils photo Basket of veggies ready to grill.

Slice yourself a piece of watermelon and read on about the joy of summer cooking.

Grandma was right. Garden-fresh is the best. Organic gardening is back in style. It is so much healthier for us to enjoy these fresh finger foods like cucumbers, snap peas, summer squash and green peppers.

A kitchen garden filled with herbs adds zest with basil, rosemary, parsley, and tarragon. Leaf lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard can be snipped off and tossed into salads.

Look at the magazine covers and the new recipe book pages and you will see how “in” it is to make and eat berry smoothies, roasted vegetables, kale chips, caramelized onions, and zucchini frittatas.

But summer foods don’t have to be fancy. Simple is more the rule. I remember many years ago tagging along with my Grandpa Rose — a Kansas farm boy transplant and awesome gardener — and eating his freshly harvested kohlrabies.

Peeled with a jackknife and slightly rinsed with the hose, they tasted so crisp and good right there in the garden.

I guess I inherited his love of growing things, because my yard is mostly gardens these days.

A simple way to enjoy the goodness of the garden that my family really likes is to make a basket of grilled veggies. First I clean and slice zucchini, or yellow squash, onion, mushrooms, green beans, slightly steamed cauliflower or broccoli, and carrots and place them all in a ziplock gallon bag. I add a marinade of olive oil, garlic, and seasoned salt and swish it around the bag.

At camp, I pour the veggies into a wire grill basket and let them cook and char until all are tender crisp and delicious.

The cast iron Dutch oven is another summer meal favorite tool. Hot coals, a nice chicken, seasonings, rosemary snipped from the garden and potatoes and you are all set to relax around the campfire with a great meal.

My son can make the best fruit cobblers in the Dutch oven thanks to his Boy Scout training.

Meals are a lot more fun if you know where your food is coming from. See what you can harvest in your garden or pick some wild blueberries or visit a Farmer’s Market.

The taste of an Upper Michigan summer is truly delicious!


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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