When Jane Austen and other careful chroniclers of 19th-century society wrote about the social season, they usually meant the winter months. But at the beginning of the 21st century, summer is the biggest party time of the year. Why the change? I'd venture to guess that it's because the cooking is much fresher and simpler (and so is the cleanup).
This approach is certainly true for the Hall family of Long Meadow Ranch in Napa Valley. They invited F&W to a dinner featuring ingredients they grew themselveseverything from wine grapes to potatoes. Eating from the land this way is almost like living in the 19th century!
In "The Primary Pantry," F&W's Grace Parisi preserves vegetables and fruit available in great abundance in the summercorn, blueberries, tomatoesgiving them a whole new life. My favorite is the corn relish she uses to top hot dogs and give corn bread more heft. Another Test Kitchen star, Marcia Kiesel, tackles entertaining with fast dishes for two party menusone Asian-inspired, the other Mexican. I loved the Thai-style avocado-cucumber soup so much that I took the recipe home so I could make it before the issue came out.