My relationship with summer has never been easy. While others rush to put on shorts and sandals and spend hours at picnics and barbeques, I find myself desperately trying to stay cool and not get sunburned. Officially the palest person in Berlin with only two skin tones, white and red, my friends look annoyed whenever I take a seat at a café in the shade or worse still, inside. No matter how much people tell me how incredible Berlin is in this season, the hot weather makes me bad tempered and the warmer it gets, the more I long for a summer in England in my parents' garden, eating strawberries and cream and watching the tennis. While others dream of endless parties on the terrace with cool drinks, I struggle to deal with sticky nights and mosquitoes.
Yet this year I find myself enjoying the warmer days more than before, even if I'm not outside for very long. Though summer will never be my favourite season, it's hard to resist a time of year when the tomatoes have flavour once again, when you can smell the strawberries as you wander between market stands, gazing at the piles of fresh asparagus and the cherries. I love to take a moment to watch the changing palette of the sky as the sun goes down and enjoy the luxury of getting up early at the weekend to linger over the first silent moments with a cup of tea. And you, what are your favourite things about summer?
Strawberry smoothie - strawberries with kefir milk and rolled oats
In the Bürgerpark last weekend
One of the best things I've done recently was to get my hands on a copy of Heidi Swanson's new book, Super Natural Every Day. Like many others, I was always a fan of 101 Cookbooks but the book really blew me away with such wonderful recipes and I've been using it pretty much every day. It's hard to talk of favourites - millet muffins, baked oatmeal, wild rice casserole and yoghurt biscuits to name just a few - but I have a soft spot for these stuffed tomatoes with couscous and it seems like the perfect summer dish.
6 large, ripe tomatoes
115g/ !/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped,
2 shallots, minced
fine-grain sea salt
85g wholewheat or barley couscous (I used spelt)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Chop the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides with a teaspoon over a bowl, trying not to cut into the sides. Break up any large chunks. Place the empty tomatoes into a baking dish, greased and big enough to fit them all in.
2. For the filling, mix the tomato chunks, yoghurt, harissa, olive oil, salt, most of the basil and the shallots into a bowl. Test to see if you need more salt or harissa then add in the couscous.
3. Spoon the mixture into each tomato until almost full then bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the couscous is done. Top with the leftover basil.