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Shoulder Season

Grace in the Kitchen – September

    Photo by Kelley Jordan

    There’s never been a time in my life when the arrival of September didn’t come as a surprise or a disappointment, until I discovered the shoulder season—that delightful time when kids are back at school, travel is cheaper, and the weather becomes bearable once again.

    Best of all, at this time of year, gardens and farmers’ markets are brimming with last-of-the-season tomatoes, peaches, and zucchini—making way for potatoes, pumpkins, and brussels sprouts, harbingers of autumn.

    It’s that magical time—the shoulder season, the interim—that brings me back to my kitchen, enthusiastically and with purpose. This September, I’m looking forward to the arrival of sockeye salmon in my Sitka Seafood Market box.

    Robust and flavorful, sockeye needs little more than a tasty sauce or simple side dish to round out the meal. I’ll turn juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and big bunches of fresh cilantro and basil into salads, salsas, and pestos. Maybe I’ll pickle some wax beans or grill some okra to smoky perfection.

    For the salmon, my stress-free, go-to method is cooking it on a cedar plank on a low and slow grill. The beauty of this technique is that you don’t have to flip the fish—still anxiety producing for me even after decades in professional kitchens. Plus, grilling over low heat allows for more even cooking. You’re less likely to overcook your fish which is always a challenge for sockeye, thinner fish fillets, and tail pieces.

    This summer, I’ve eaten my share of raw fish—ceviche, poke, and sashimi—to beat the heat, so I’m ready for September and cooked fish! Bring on the shoulder season!