Summer is isn’t over just yet! In fact, there’s plenty of great weather ahead of us. That means the garden is at its peak, the farmers markets are bursting with a rainbow of colors and fresh produce, the sun is setting later leaving a blanket of stars and warm nights filled with the flickering fireflies. What better way to celebrate the summer than to grab your closest friends and throw your own farm dinner! You don’t have to have an extravagant six course meal with wine pairings! You can have a good ole Eastern Shore shin dig right in your back yard using local produce from your local farms and wineries.

Things You’ll Need:

  • A fun guest list, a time, and a place.
  • Large table and enough chairs for people to sit
  • Table cloth, plates, silverware, cups and wine glasses
  • A menu and recipes for dinner
  • Food, wine or spirits
  • Lanterns, candles, flowers, music

Plan your menu ahead so you know what you’ll want to have for each course and also be prepared. Focus on what’s in season during the time you hold your farm dinner. Summer has the best selection for fresh produce, tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, and berries are at their peak. If you have your own garden, choose one recipe that you could use your own harvest or visit your weekly farmers market or closest produce stand to purchase your fruits and vegetables. Find a local brewery or winery in your area to use for spirits. Make your own porch iced tea that has been brewed in the sun all day. We’re in prime fish and seafood season during our summer months. Buy from local crabbers, seafood distributors, or fisherman, (If you’re lucky enough to know someone in the trade, invite them to your dinner maybe they’ll bring something to help with the main dish!)

Chose 3 or 4 dishes, when you’re planning your menu so you don’t spend so much time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. Summer is perfect for cold dishes so pick one or two you can prepare ahead of time. Appetizers and desserts are perfect for preparing earlier before your guests arrive. Need some ideas? How about Caprese Salad, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella smothered in olive oils, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and fresh basil. What about raw Strawberry Cobbler or grilled peaches with homemade whipped cream for dessert? Make your own salad dressing, marinades, or sauces for your main course. Choose fish, chicken, or crab for your main course, they take less time to cook and tend to have easier recipes.

Set your table. Have fun with it! The more mismatched your plates, silverware, and glassware the more rustic and fun it will be. Find a great place in your yard, driveway, porch, or even inside to hold the dinner. Decorate your table with a tablecloth, flowers, or candles. Place flatware, silverware, glassware and desired places for each guest. Make sure you have a chair for each person coming also. Need a little light and ambiance? Use lanterns or tiki torches. You can even put place cards out or let people sit wherever they’re comfortable.

Have your guests arrive 30 minutes before dinner. Let them mingle and enjoy a cocktail while you put the finishing touches on the first course. Have everyone sit down when you’re ready, give a toast, share some great stories and lots of laughter, eat slowly, enjoy your company, and indulge in all the incredible sights, smells, and tastes of summer!

 Back Porch Lavender-Peach Sun Tea

  •  5-6 green tea bags
  •  3-4 fresh peaches
  •  2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender
  •  2 tablespoons honey
  •  1 lemon- sliced
  •  2 tablespoons chocolate mint (more sprigs for garnish)
  •  Ice

Bring water to a boil. In a pitcher add tea bags, pour boiling water into pitcher and let steep for 15-20 minutes. In a separate container using a tea strainer, add lavender and mint, then steep for 8-10 minutes. Compost used lavender and mint leaves. Add lavender and mint infusion to pitcher with tea bags. Add lemon slices and honey. Stir well. Let tea sit in the sun for an hour or more too cool and absorb all the flavors. In a mason jar, add ice and pour tea. Garnish with mint sprigs.